Travel Insurance Policy, Medical Benefits and Health Care Abroad

Travel insurance should be an essential part of  your holiday plans as it offers comprehensive benefits for the duration of your travel. Apart from the lost luggage and stolen credit card cover, a good travel insurance plan should also offer a wide range of medical benefits. Travelling in a foreign country, you cannot be certain of the mishaps that may arise and without a good travel insurance plan, you may find yourself languishing in a third world hospital, with poor medical services.

The cost of health care varies throughout the world but your travel agent will ensure that the insurance plan you opt for will cover all the necessary medical expenses irrespective of your holiday destination. This will usually include emergency medical care, chronic medication and hospital cover. Travel insurance plans do not cover unnecessary medical services or cosmetic procedures.

Emergency Medical Services

Most injuries abroad will arise from an accident. Whether it is a minor fall, severe road accident or injury during some sporting activity, when you need medical attention you do not want to face an unhygienic and poorly stocked health care facility. Medical costs can be high, even in third world countries, and without a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you may find that you will quickly exhaust your holiday budget on medical bills.

Most travel insurance plans will pay for all emergency medical services, whether you visit the outpatient clinic or have to stay in hospital for a few days. Reputable plans will also cover extensive surgery at your holiday destination, unless your condition is such that you can safely return to your home country and receive the appropriate treatment. It is important to note that travel insurance cover will not pay for medical bills once you return to your home country, even if you have sustained the injury while on holiday.

Chronic Diseases and Drugs

It is important to inform your travel insurance provider of any chronic conditions and drugs that you may be using for your condition. In the event that your chronic medication gets lost and stolen, your travel insurance plan will cover the cost of purchasing these drugs in a foreign country. While certain drugs may be affordable here in South Africa, it could cost you a pretty penny to replace them in another country.

Due to medical regulations abroad, it may not simply be a matter of walking into an overseas pharmacy and requesting another course of your chronic medication. You may need a prescription from your supervising doctor here in South Africa or have to visit a doctor at your holiday destination before the pharmacy dispenses the medication. Your travel insurance plan will usually cover these costs although certain restrictions may be placed on specific chronic diseases.

Hospital Cover

A serious injury or even a severe infection or diarrhoea may require hospitalisation while you are abroad. A private hospital with reputable doctors and adequate facilities is expensive in every country. Even if you are visiting a country with a weaker currency, you may still not be able to afford the private hospital bills. Settling for a public health facility may be an option, but just about every country, including developed nations, have  restrictions on services for those using their facilities.

Overcrowding, unmotivated staff and a lack of equipment and facilities is not only a problem in South African public hospitals. This is a global problem and if you don’t know the local language, you may have a very difficult time communicating with the hospital staff. A private health facility will offer all the services and amenities that you will need at the time of your illness to ensure that you make a speedy recovery at the hands of the best medical personnel in the country. Every travel insurance plan with comprehensive medical benefits will cover these costs, whether it is the doctor’s bill, hospital care or even emergency blood tests, x-rays and CT scans.

The cost of travel insurance is usually less than 10% of your travel fare and if you look around for cheap travel insurance, you may find special deals through reputable insurance providers that has all the comprehensive medical cover you will need.