What happens if you fall ill abroad
How to avoid losing out if you fall ill while overseas.
Image: David J. Phillip - PA Photos
There are few things worse than falling ill while on a foreign holiday abroad. Here are five tips to make like easier if that happens to you.
1) Make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card
The EHIC card, available from the Department of Health, gives you access to state-provided healthcare in all 30 European Economic Area (EEA) countries, as well as Switzerland, at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.
Note that free healthcare does not apply in every country. You may be asked to pay for some care or for medications.
2) Check if the UK has reciprocal arrangements with other non-EEA countries
The UK has agreements with another 20 countries - including Turkmenistan, Russia and New Zealand - whereby some free care may be available. You can find out what is available here.
None of the above will cover things like repatriation in the event of an accident or ensure the best care available in that country. You should therefore strongly consider travel insurance.
3) Make sure you have the right insurance when you go abroad.
Specifically, you should:
- Be honest and declare any pre-existing medical conditions, even if you end up paying more for your cover. The alternative is that you may find you are unable to claim at a critical moment
- Check the cover applies to activities you may want to engage in: some policies want you to tell them if you intend to play golf or tennis
- Always make sure you have enough cover: in countries like the US, even £2 million may not be enough
4) Make sure you take a copy of the policy with you on holiday
Do not take the original, in case it gets lost. This will tell you the exact way to get help in an emergency, plus it may be useful if you find yourself arguing with someone over the phone.
5) In the event of a claim, follow the policy to the letter
Also, make sure that any doctor or hospital knows that you have medical insurance and what for. If you have to buy any medicines, keep both receipts and original prescriptions.
If you have emergency repatriation and your medical condition permits it, consider the possibility going back early. But if offered a return on a scheduled flight, check staff on it are equipped to care for you or that you will be accompanied - and that you will have plenty of room to stretch out.
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