It’s admittedly a worrying thing to think about – having to have medical treatment abroad. It’s daunting, possibly confusing and potentially costly. Don’t fret – there are some essential tips to know that will guide you through any eventuality. Here are some useful words of advice in case you’re needing any treatment on your travels.
You’ll probably want some health insurance
There’s absolutely no denying that treatment in foreign countries is often expensive. And by expensive, we mean really expensive. TINZ has published a handy infographic that highlights the potential prices you’ll be forking out for common accidents in certain countries. An accident on Germany’s Bavarian Alps, for example, will cost nothing short of $120,000 – that’s just over roughly £90,000.
The reason for healthcare being so extortionate in foreign countries is usually down to a lack of a free service, such as the NHS in the United Kingdom. In a majority of countries, healthcare isn’t free – the United States being a prime example – and so the costs of an ambulance service, a stay in a hospital and the treatment itself adds up.
By having travel insurance, you’re ensuring you’ll be entitled to free treatment wherever you are. By the looks of the average healthcare costs across the world, it’s worth it.
Do your research on your destination
Depending on where you’re headed, you’re going to want to ensure there’s some form of adequate facility in case of an emergency. Chances are, if you’re within reasonable distance of a big town or city, you won’t be far away from a hospital. But it’s worth checking the smaller, less-developed locations – especially if you’re travelling through somewhere such as Asia or South America – to ensure you’re always close to healthcare if you need it.
You’ll also have to check that your insurance – if you have it – is valid in your destination. Some places in the world will not be covered if you’re heading there – you can find out where by checking the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website before booking your travels. If you’re in Europe you’re going to want to get yourself an EHIC card, which covers additional expenses – for example, if you fall ill on a flight and are diverted to a European airport to return home.
Ask around for tips on where to go and who to see
If you’re staying in a hotel or with a group, ask those who would know where you should go in the case of needing healthcare in the local area. Tour guides, hotel staff and even your embassy will be able to give you advice on where to go in case of an emergency, and perhaps even tell you who to see.
You may have to be careful in this instance, though – Wanderlust highlights that locals are likely to point you in the direction of healthcare that compromises on quality in favour of cheaper treatment. If you insist you’re willing to pay, as you’re covered by insurance, then you’ll be led to facilities that are adequate and safe.
Don’t do anything you shouldn’t do
It’s perhaps the easiest tip of all – but don’t be tempted to do something you shouldn’t. Many tourists and travellers end up requiring healthcare as a result of partaking in an activity that’s dangerous and, sometimes, against the law. If you’re taking a tour of an area that involves climbing, rafting or another potentially dangerous activity, make sure it’s with a licensed organisation that are taking the right safety precautions.
There’s plenty of things you can do of your own accord to stay out of harm’s way, too. Don’t eat any food you feel is suspicious or wrongly cooked to save yourself from any infections. Have the required vaccinations before you head out in case of any nasty bites from mosquitoes and other insects – repellent helps, too.
And don’t drive any vehicles without a license, as although road laws are considerably laxer in certain countries, you’ll have a hard time navigating the chaotic traffic – and if you look at the aforementioned guide to healthcare costs across the world, you’ll see that a motorbike accident in Vietnam will set you back $5,500.
So, it’s safe to say that so long as you’re careful and vigilant, you won’t have to worry too much. As long as you do your research and know the rules and regulations of medical treatment wherever you’re heading, you can stay out of harm’s way and ensure a safe and fun trip without any hiccups.