If you fall ill or have an accident during your holiday, you might need to seek medical treatment abroad. People with pre existing medical conditions should be wary of travelling to countries with poor healthcare facilities. If you have a severe medical condition, it can be difficult to get appropriate treatment.
When you book a trip abroad, make sure you buy travel insurance and declare any pre existing medical conditions.
If you fall ill abroad, travel insurance can cover the cost of any medical treatment you might need to receive. Your travel insurer will also be able to help you arrange appropriate treatment or repatriation back to the UK if necessary.
Your travel insurer should offer 24 hour emergency assistance. If you need to seek urgent medical treatment abroad, call the emergency assistance number for advice.
Medication for pre existing medical conditions
Before you travel abroad with a medical condition, find out if the country you are visiting will be able to offer you the right medication and care if you fall ill as a result of your condition. Bear in mind that medication you take at home could be illegal in certain countries, so do some research before you travel.
Make a note of the name of your medication (not just the brand). That way, if you lose your medication and need a new prescription, you will know what to ask for. If you can, translate the name of your medication into the local language and keep a note of it.
Claiming for medical treatment abroad
If you do need to receive medical treatment abroad, you'll need to contact your travel insurer in order to make a claim. You should read the policy wording carefully at this point, because different insurers may have different rules. For example some insurers require you to contact them immediately if require a hospital stay or if your treatment is likely to be over £250.
After receiving medical treatment abroad, keep hold of any receipts or doctors' notes to send to your insurer in order to make a claim. These will act as proof that you received the treatment.
European Health Insurance Card
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you access to state-provide healthcare in the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
The EHIC only allows you access to certain types of medical treatment abroad, so it's important to accompany it with comprehensive travel insurance. Your EHIC will never cover the cost of repatriation, while travel insurance will.
The EHIC is free for all British nationals and is valid for five years, after which time it can be renewed. EHICs have replaced E111 forms, which are now invalid.
Remember to carry your EHIC with you so that you can produce it if you need to receive medical treatment abroad.