What's the cost of medical aid abroad?

The cost of health care is rising around the globe, but does your health insurance work overseas as well?

What's the cost of medical aid abroad?

Travel can broaden your horizons quicker than any other method of cultural immersion. You can partake in activities of new cultures and learn to appreciate a worldview that may be different from the one you grew up with. Conversely, travel can also put you in a lot of unpredictable situations. You could stumble upon a hidden gem on your journey and have a great story to tell when you get back home. You could also run into emergencies that limit the vitality of the trip. One of the most common issues that travellers face is medical emergencies. Health emergencies can burn a hole in your pocket if you do not have medical insurance abroad. 

Related: 5 Of the best travel credit cards in India 

The rising cost of health care

Over the last couple of decades, health care costs have risen significantly higher than the average inflation in the economy. This is true for India, and the world at large. It is also true that health care expenses are comparatively higher in other countries when compared to India. For example, an MRI scan that costs around Rs 25,000 in India, can cost you as much as Rs 77,465 (US$ 1,119) in the US.

Cost of medical aid abroad

The United States is one of the many travel destination countries where the medical aid costs are higher as compared to India. For example, an overnight stay in hospital can set you back by US $661 (By about Rs 45,400) in Italy, US $682 (By about Rs 47,000) in China, US $780 (By about Rs 53,680) in Singapore and US $2,841 (Rs 1,95,522) in Canada. In Hong Kong, if you slip and break an ankle, getting it fixed can cost you as much as an astonishing US $8,305 (Around Rs 5,71,563). The same situation will set you back by US $2000 (Rs 1,37,643) in Canada, US $3,790 (Rs 2,60,834) in Italy and US $5,110 (Rs 3,51,678) in Germany. In case of an extreme emergency evacuation, depending on which part of the world you are in, the process can cost you upward of US $200,000 (Rs 1,37,64,320).  

Related: How much does it cost to study abroad?

Is your health insurance valid overseas?

The drastic differences in the health care costs highlight the threat that a health emergency abroad can pose to your savings. The solution? Health insurance policies to see you through such emergencies. However, these health insurance policies only cover treatment in India. The reason for this is simple: the higher cost of health care overseas would force the policies without any geographical restrictions to be priced very high. The high premiums will make such policies unattractive to most resident Indians. Unless you are planning to settle abroad, getting a health insurance policy that would provide coverage in a foreign country as well, may be overkill. What is the way out?

Travel insurance 

The best way to get insurance coverage against any medical emergencies that may arise while abroad, is through a travel insurance policy. A travel insurance policy does not just protect you against theft, missed or cancelled flights and other travel-related emergencies but also against medical emergencies. The smart option would be to opt for medical coverage based on the medical costs prevalent at your destination. Medical cover can include individual travel insurance policy, along with group travel insurance policies which would be applicable for the entire family. Though, if you have senior citizens travelling with you – ensure that they are not excluded from your policy because of their age. Many insurers offer senior citizen travel insurance plans designed with the needs of the aged in mind. 

Related: 6 Simple ways to cut down expenses on doctors and healthcare 

Pack important medication and a first aid kit

While you may be able to get over-the-counter medication in most countries, carrying all your prescription medication is always advisable. Carrying a first-aid kit – which may include ibuprofen, paracetamol, Imodium, or acetaminophen saves the hassle of finding these basic medications in a foreign environment. Equally important is to pack all essentials – any vitamins you take regularly, ointments and bandages for cuts etc.

It is also important to pack the list of prescription medicines, your doctor’s contact information and a brief medical history. Noting down any allergies you have in your medical history is a good idea since it reduces the chances of a misdiagnosis and the amount of time it will take for the medical responders to prescribe medications. For example, if you have an allergy to penicillin – the medical responders should know of this in case of an emergency. This will ensure that even if you cannot talk to the medical responders, they can find someone who can read it out to them.

Another tip is to learn a few phrases in the language commonly spoken at your destination. This includes phrases for “I need help.” or “How do I get to the nearest hospital?”. Taking simple precautions can go a long way in a pressing situation. Want to read about medical travel insurance and its importance? Click here.

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