When an individual in the UK is taken ill or has an accident, they can generally call on the support of their family and friends to help them get the care and assistance they need. Furthermore, if medical treatment is needed, an individual can look forward to receiving free treatment from a familiar healthcare system where there are no language or cultural barriers.
Unfortunately, these aspects are often not available to UK citizens who choose to live or work overseas as expatriates. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that expats obtain international health insurance policies which will include suitable arrangements for medical evacuation and repatriation.
The difference between medical evacuation and repatriation
A medical evacuation is used to transport an expat to the nearest appropriate health facility in the event of them experiencing a medical emergency in an area where suitable treatment is not readily available. This can be facilitated by ambulance, air ambulance, commercial flight or indeed any suitable mode of transportation.
A medical repatriation is executed under the same conditions as a medical evacuation but provides expats with the option of going back to the UK and receiving their treatment in a familiar environment amongst family and friends.
Specific medical circumstances
It is important to emphasize that the medical evacuation and repatriation services available on expat health insurance policies are only to be used for specific medical circumstances; therefore they are not to be seen as being any kind of substitute for emergency search and rescue programs. Indeed, evacuation and repatriation services are not responsible for airlifting expats from avalanched mountains or rescuing overseas workers from tsunami floods – these acts fall squarely under the host nation’s authority and as such will require the intervention of their own emergency services.
Naturally, the reason for purchasing international medical insurance is very simple – to cover costs. To ensure their costs will indeed be covered, expats need to ask themselves (and their insurers) exactly how their various evacuation or repatriation expenses will be paid. Indeed, an expat will certainly need to know whether their insurers will settle directly so that there is no cash outlay on their side or require them to pay first and then claim later.
Of course, this is just one aspect of the claim process. To ensure they get the best treatment and experience the least amount of stress possible, expats should familiarise themselves with all aspects of their insurance policies and arm themselves with all relevant information. After all, being ill or injured overseas can be traumatic enough as it is without having to worry about what may or may not be available under the terms and conditions of a particular policy.
Quite simply, having suitable expatriate health insurance in place can help an expat who is living or working overseas to get the medical evacuation or repatriation they need to enjoy a suitably competent and effective level of emergency healthcare – and that really can be invaluable.
For more information please visit – www.expatriatehealthcare.com