Expat medical evacuation doesn’t come cheap

medical evacuation

If you are abroad and need to be evacuated for medical reasons it could cost you more than $100,000 without medical evacuation insurance.

When 31 year old British man, Matthew Taylor, moved to Bali to teach English he didn’t suspect his family would have to raise nearly £200,000 to fly him home after an accident. Matthew suffered a serious head injury while riding a motorbike on the Indonesian island. With no health insurance, his parents were forced to find £200,000 to cover his medical expenses and fly him back to the UK for continuing treatment.

This story and several others like it raise the question of emergency medical evacuation coverage. This is an additional extra on top of the usual health insurance coverage. For expatriates moving to remote areas or those with poor healthcare systems, it is certainly something to consider.

What is emergency medical evacuation?

If you are struck down by a medical emergency while abroad, medical evacuation will transport you to the nearest medical treatment facility. Some policies pay for a family member to travel with you and others take you to a pre-approved centre of excellence.

International evacuation can cost as much as £100,000. You may require a private air ambulance, helicopter or a block of seats on a commercial flight. Even if you have health insurance often your policy won’t cover an emergency medical evacuation.

How to choose a medical evacuation plan

There are several things you should consider before buying this type of coverage:

  • Does the insurance cover “high-risk” activities such as para-sailing, scuba diving, skiing and mountain climbing?
  • Does the insurance company require second opinions or pre-authorizations before medical treatment can start?
  • Are pre-existing conditions covered?
  • Will the insurance company pay foreign doctors and hospitals directly?
  • Do the insurers guarantee medical payments abroad?
  • Does the insurance policy cover returning me home should I need treatment?