Anyone who has got ill or needed medical treatment while
abroad knows what an unpleasant experience it can be. The language barriers.
The lack of understanding. The different policies and rules. And the expenses.
The big expenses – at least for those with inappropriate health insurance.
It comes as no surprise therefore that almost every travel
expert worth their salt recommends investing in a health insurance policy
before leaving home, in order to control the costs should medical help be
needed. Additionally, a proper insurance policy like this can sometimes result
in swifter treatment, hospitals with better facilities and all manner of ‘add
on’ services like repatriation if they’re ever needed.
The benefits are hardly rocket science.
So it seems odd that a study by Nationwide reveals just how
few people actually invest in medical insurance when heading abroad; and the
unnecessary risks they may be taking with their health – and their bank balance.
The research shows that 20% of those surveyed wouldn’t take
out any form of insurance when travelling for one or two weeks – whether that’s
within Europe or not. 38% wouldn’t arrange insurance for a short weekend away.
However arguably the most worrying statistic of all is that
almost one in four people wouldn’t bother taking out insurance before heading
overseas for a period of up to six months at a time. Clearly, the longer that
you are abroad, the greater the odds of you needing some form of medical help
so people’s optimism in this respect really is surprising.
The study most certainly didn’t take into account the costs
of medical insurance; the research focused purely on whether or not British
tourists would take the small amount of time and effort required to arrange
insurance before leaving home. Even fewer would actually make a claim even if
an opportunity arose.
Nationwide claim that the cost of a flight and doctor from
Australia could weigh in at over £15,000 while an air ambulance ride in America
could cost several times that figure. Note that without appropriate medical
insurance, you or your family would be expected to pay these fees out of your
For those minority of travellers who took the safer route
and spent a little bit of money on such a policy, the costs would likely be
covered for you by your insurer.
The moral of the story is a simple one; don’t be one of the
people who takes chances with their health while travelling. To ensure that you
get the very best care should you need it, always consider health insurance to be obligatory when travelling – even within Europe where an EHIC will offer
some health benefits to travellers from other European destinations.