Like the Health Service you are in, you need to “Check the small print” for exclusions. If you travel, make sure your health cover is for the best hospital care,…

Even the Private Travel Insurance industry is trying to ration. Like the Health Service you are in, you need to “Check the small print” for exclusions. If you travel, make sure your health cover is for the best hospital care,…

Andrew Ellison reports in the Times 18th April 2018: Travel insurers ‘ban private hospitals to keep costs down’

Image result for health exclusions cartoon

A British doctor on holiday in Thailand says he almost died because his travel insurer insisted that he transfer from a private hospital to a state-run hospital after he fell desperately ill.

The man, who had a policy with a £10 million medical emergency limit, says he only survived because he was able to identify the severity of his condition and transferred himself back after a five-hour wait for treatment.

The case illustrates how the trend among insurers to use small print to cut standards of cover puts holidaymakers at risk. Analysis by The Times of policy documents at Britain’s ten biggest travel insurers reveals that half effectively ban travellers from using private hospitals, even in developing countries, except in exceptional circumstances.

Campaigners say people visiting far-flung destinations where state-run care is often of a questionable standard must no longer assume their policies cover them to go to the nearest or best hospital. James Daley, of Fairer Finance, said: “This is part of a drive to keep costs down. In most medical emergencies, you go to the nearest facility or the one recommended by someone locally. Insurers should be making these sort of terms crystal clear up front.”

The doctor, who does not want to be named, went to the nearest hospital to the resort where his family were staying about 50 miles from Bangkok after experiencing abdominal pains. Surgery was necessary so he rang the 24-hour emergency number supplied by his insurer, HolidaySafe. He knew his life was at risk but he says the service was staffed by non-medics who sent him to a government hospital further away.

After travelling there by taxi, he says he was made to wait almost five hours in a corridor without water, sustaining kidney damage. Realising that he would probably die if he stayed there, he took another taxi back to the private hospital and was treated before being transferred to the capital for surgery.

A spokesman for HolidaySafe said: “We never insist or demand that customers receive treatment at particular centres and we did not do this in this case. Our view is it is the patient’s choice where he or she seeks treatment. However, we do give recommendations and those include public hospitals in many areas of the world.”

Image result for health exclusions cartoon

This entry was posted in Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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