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Going abroad without insurance could cost more than your health

From a moped accident in Thailand to a heart attack in the US, Admiral reveals how much hospital treatment costs around the world.

The real cost of getting ill abroad

Going abroad without travel insurance could end up being a pain in the wallet. Here you can explore the cost of medical treatment and getting ill in the most popular countries in the world for UK travellers.


The real cost of getting ill abroad

Going abroad without travel insurance could end up being a pain in the wallet. Here you can explore the cost of medical treatment and getting ill in the most popular countries in the world for UK travellers.

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*Based on Admiral’s estimated costs of the most common medical procedures

The cost of procedures and treatments


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Broken Leg inc. Repatriation

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Case studies

Moped Accident in Thailand -
‘Koh Samui Tattoo’

Known as the ‘Koh Samui Tattoo’ this accident is caused when someone accidentally rests their calf on the exhaust pipe of a moped. It’s not uncommon for this to happen as people often use mopeds to get around and see the sights of Thailand while on holiday or travelling, but they aren’t familiar with this type of transport. This accident can become extremely costly if the wound is not treated as soon as possible. If treated quickly, costs can range between £500 and £1,000 for medical costs and approximately £5,000 for an upgraded long-haul flight home if it comes to that.

However, due to the humidity in Thailand it’s not uncommon for the wound to become infected. If the wound is left untreated or becomes infected, costs can dramatically increase anywhere from around £3,000 to £15,000 for medical costs based on a likely hospital admission for antibiotic treatment, skin debridement or even possible amputation) and around £30,000 for a medically escorted repatriation back to the UK.

Potential cost: Up to £45,000
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Heart Attack in
the USA

High fat diets are one of the leading causes behind heart attacks and overindulging on your trip to the States could prove costly to your bank balance as well as your health. Depending on your destination, medical costs associated with suffering a heart attack while in the USA can range from anywhere between £50,000 and £200,000.

If you suffer with a heart attack, overseas air travel by a standard airline is not usually permitted for three weeks, and the patient must also be ‘chest pain free’ for the duration of that period. However, if the patient is stable for one-week following a heart attack, airlines may allow repatriation on the condition that the patient is accompanied by a medical professional, so should any chest pain occur in the air, the doctor can administer medication without diverting the plane.

Flights, medical escort hours, accommodation and a transfer costs can come in the region of £30,000.

Potential cost: Up to £230,000
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Gastroenteritis in

Trying out new cuisines or restaurants without a verified hygiene rating while abroad could land you with a bout of food poisoning. While these are usually self-limiting illnesses, they may require a day admission to a medical facility. The cost of this can range between £1,000 and £2,000 in Mexico. Facilities may also demand money or a letter of guarantee from insurance upfront before administering treatment. Once resolved, no special repatriation is required.

Potential cost: Up to £2,000
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Broken arm while
skiing in France

Whether staying on-piste or not, broken arms are a common injury sustained by skiers and snowboarders alike. Initially, skiers who have a suspected break will be treated by first responders who will then take them to a medical centre at the bottom of the mountain, where they would receive ambulatory treatment and X-rays for a cost of around £500. If the break can be immobilised a cast will be applied and the patient can usually continue their return journey home without any special requirements.

For a severe break, the patient would be transferred to a public hospital and treated under the EHIC (which covers 80% of costs). Providing surgery is a success, special repatriation costs aren’t necessary.

Potential cost: Up to £1,000
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Altitude sickness
in Peru

For explorers looking to hike the heights of the Andes, altitude training ahead of any expedition is worthwhile to avoid altitude sickness.

If struck by altitude sickness, the patient will need to be brought down from height immediately. This will either be done by standard ambulance or by a medical helicopter if the terrain isn’t accessible by car. Patients will then be taken to a hospital as near to sea level as possible for treatment. This can cost between £7,000 and £10,000.

If the condition resolves quickly, medical expenses will be in the region of £2,000. However, if the patent requires time in a hyperbaric chamber for treatment, the medical bill increases by between £6,000 and £8,000.

Potential cost: Up to £18,000
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Jellyfish sting in

When exploring the coast of Australia, adventurous swimmers will need to be wary of the country’s share of potentially lethal stinging species. Medical costs for treating a jellyfish sting will ordinarily be covered by the Reciprocal Health Agreement between Australia and the UK, and in most normal instances repatriation assistance is unnecessary.

However, if the sting occurs close to the day of travel and the injury is visible, the patient may be denied boarding, required to upgrade to a business class ticket to allow more room (as the sting may restrict blood flow) or they may even have to extend their trip until the swelling goes down. This could cost anything up to £12,000

Potential cost: Up to £12,000
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Travel Insurance

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