Abta warns overseas medical costs ‘have gone through the roof’

Abta has warned travellers that overseas medical bills have risen “substantially” since 2019 – and urged them to buy travel insurance when they book their trip.

People requiring an air ambulance will now find that the cost of being flown safely home on a long-haul flight will now cost more than twice the amounts charged in 2019.

In 2019, an air ambulance from the European Union to the UK cost between €15,000-20,000. This rose in 2023 to between €25,000-30,000.

Worldwide costs are even higher, more than doubling from €35,000-40,000 in 2019 to €75,000-85,000 in 2023.

These air ambulance and other medical costs should be covered by a comprehensive travel insurance policy, highlighted the association.

It also noted holidaymakers may sometimes rely solely on the General Health Insurance Card (Ghic), which allows UK citizens access to state medical care in the EU and a handful of other destinations.

However, not all these services are provided free of charge and air ambulance costs are not covered by Ghic.

Graeme Buck, Abta communications director, said: “Every year we see very sad stories of uninsured people who have fallen ill or had an accident while overseas and are running up large medical bills.

“They often resort to setting up a GoFundMe page or similar, but they will now find they need to raise substantially more money, with air ambulance and other medical costs having gone through the roof.

“It is simply not worth the risk of financial ruin, simply to save a few pounds, so always take out travel insurance at the time of booking your holiday or other travel arrangements.”

Jennifer Anderson, consular and crisis director at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said: “Travelling without insurance can be expensive and distressing if things do go wrong when you are abroad.

“The good news is that purchasing the right travel insurance does not take long and could save you a lot of money and stress.

“I encourage anyone booking travel to make sure your travel insurance covers the places you visit, the duration of your visit and any planned activities and do disclose any medical conditions so your cover remains valid.”

Picture by aappp/Shutterstock

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