I was stunned to read that, in 2017, around 10 million Brits travelled abroad without the right level of travel insurance coverage. This is according to research carried out by The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).
Many Americans do the same. When USJetcost.com, polled 4,784 travelling Americans, in 2017, they discovered that 41% of them did not have a travel insurance policy. Did you know your existing United States health insurance likely doesn’t cover you overseas?
To me, this sounds crazy because, without a doubt, you can enjoy safer international travel if insured properly. Below I explain why I have come to believe that to be the case.
Countries are no longer prepared to foot the bill for tourist’s medical bills.
In the past, it was fairly easy to get treatment in countries that had a good free at the point of entry healthcare service, for example, in the UK or Spain.
You could turn up and at any accident and emergency department and get treatment. You just gave your name, waited your turn and got treated. But, that has started to change. Now the rules, which have been in place for decades, are being applied more often.
Most countries commit to treating anyone who is in a life-threatening situation regardless of whether they can pay or not. If you have an accident and an ambulance takes you to a hospital. You will get seen and assessed. If you are in a really bad way treatment will start quickly. Usually, without anyone worrying about who you are and whether you can pay.
But, if you are walking wounded, things are now very different. In some countries, you will be required to present your travel insurance documents or a credit card before being allowed into the treatment area.
The UK is on the list of countries that have greatly tightened up their procedures. You can read about the process by clicking here. As you can see the situation is a complex one and if treatment requires a hospital stay, drugs or follow up visits, most people will need to pay for these things.
Given that the situation is so complex and that the rules are fluid, in many parts of the world, proper travel medical insurance is essential. It is the best way to make sure you get the access you need to the country’s medical facilities.
Medical treatment abroad can be expensive.
The cost of medical treatment varies considerably across the world. But, it is never cheap. Even in countries where costs are generally lower, you can easily end up paying thousands. For example, if you needed a heart bypass while staying in India the bill would be from $7,500, upwards.
The cost of medical evacuation or repatriation is astronomical.
Things get a lot worse if you need to be medically evacuated. The cost of this can easily run to thousands of dollars. For example, if you are staying in a remote place and need to be transported hundreds of miles to a hospital with the right facilities.
Or, worse, if you need to be sent to your home country on a medical flight, in that situation you are talking tens of thousands. A typical medical flight from Europe to the USA currently costs around $25,000.
So, hopefully, you can see why I believe that good quality medical travel insurance is a must. You only have to skip buying it once and have an accident to end up paying off a huge debt.