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One in five UK holidaymakers seek treatment abroad

Over 1 in 5 (22%) UK holidaymakers have needed to seek medical treatment whilst abroad, research fromGocompare.com travel insurance has found.

Some 14% of UK adults polled had to prove they had medical cover on their travel insurance before they could get treatment. However, a worryingly similar number (23%) don’t always make sure they have travel insurance for their holiday. In the study of over 1400 UK adults, less than half (49%) of those who needed treatment agreed that they received good quality care and 14% said they couldn’t get any treatment until they could prove they had travel insurance with medical cover. Some 7% of respondents said that they received an unexpectedly high medical bill following their treatment.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the holidaymakers who needed treatment in Europe said that they didn’t have to pay anything for their medical care as it was covered by their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

However 70% believed that the EHIC entitles them to free emergency medical care anywhere in Europe, which is not the case. In research carried out before the EU referendum, 23% of UK holidaymakers felt worried that a Brexit would mean they would lose valuable medical protection provided by the European Health Insurance Card. Alex Edwards, travel insurancespokesperson at Gocompare.com, said: ” Having an accident or falling seriously ill abroad can quickly lead to a substantial medical bill if you don’t have insurance, especially in developed countries where medical costs can be extremely high.” He added: “It’s one thing to receive a big bill after your treatment, but what’s more frightening is the prospect of having emergency treatment delayed or refused until you, or your family, can prove how it’s going to be paid for, something 14% of our survey respondents experienced. “We’re very accustomed in the UK to receiving our emergency medical care whenever we need it and without question. But in some places, if you can’t prove you have the means to cover the bill, you may not receive the care you need or your treatment may be delayed.” He concluded: “It’s great to see that many savvy Brits have used their EHIC to get emergency free medical treatment in Europe. However, there’s still considerable confusion about the benefit it actually provides and a now a question mark over its future following Brexit.

“Holidaymakers should view it as complementing the medical cover provided by a decent travel insurance¬†policy rather than as an alternative to it. And of course the EHIC has no benefit at all outside of the European Economic Area (plus Switzerland) which means in countries like Turkey, Albania and Montenegro you’re totally dependent on your travel insurance to cover your medical bill or you’ll be paying for your treatment yourself.”

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