15 March 2016 by Anna Staford
It probably won’t be the first thing you think of when making your travel plans - but did you know that medical treatment abroad can be shockingly expensive? A recent example in the press highlighted a mother who had to sell her house to pay £67,000 of overseas medical bills. Her son had not disclosed a pre-existing medical condition when taking out his travel insurance, so when he was admitted to hospital to have his pancreas removed due to gallstones, his insurance company would not cover the costs. His passport was seized by the hospital until bills were paid. Expenses rose by £400 per day and the final bill was £67,000. A costly and traumatic consequence of not declaring a pre-existing medical condition.
Even straightforward medical treatment in Europe can be expensive:
This is an illness or disease that you have previously had symptoms for, advice, or treatment for. The exact definition and declaration requirements vary by Travel Insurance policy so check before you buy and understand your policy’s medical clauses fully. Some policies do cover certain common conditions in certain circumstances – such as asthma. The Globelink Travel Policy covers over 50 medical conditions as standard. Visit our pre-existing medical conditions page and review our ‘No Screen Conditions’ to find out more.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), may cover costs of state-provided treatment for a pre-existing medical condition if travelling within the European Economic Area (EEA), however, state healthcare provision varies and in some countries it may be limited, or not available. You will not be covered for the costs of repatriation or any additional medical support this may involve – like a doctor or nurse escort. Also often the nearest medical facilities to key tourist areas are private, where you will have to pay for treatment.
For details on how to obtain an EHIC card and what it covers, visit the NHS Choices website.
It’s easy to assume that your medical conditions won’t cause you a problem and to skip over the travel policy medical declaration requirements, but doing so can have disastrously costly repercussions. Most Travel insurance will cover accidents and unpredictable illness under the emergency medical section. However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition – and fail to disclose this, then it may invalidate your policy and you may not be covered for related costs incurred which could run into thousands of pounds.
Many policies will cover certain pre-existing medical conditions for an additional premium and/or increased excess; while this may seem like an unnecessary expense, is it really worth risking having to pay £67,000 for something that could be avoided? Recent research gathered by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) indicated that an astonishing 48% of those questioned did not realise that without travel insurance, they would be liable for their own medical costs while abroad. When the average cost of a travel insurance medical claim is nearly £1,000 it simply does not make financial sense to travel without it!
Our Globelink Policy covers 50 pre-existing conditions as standard with no extra premium.