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Emergency medical care outside of home country--How much did it cost you?

Emergency medical care outside of home country--How much did it cost you?

Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 05:49 AM
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Emergency medical care outside of home country--How much did it cost you?

I am curious. We just returned from Sicily where we had an unplanned (and aren't they all?) visit to the Pronto Soccorso (emergency care facility). Plus, for many of us in the United States it is now open enrollment time when we can choose or change our health insurers. So, both of these two things together got me thinking.

If you had emergency care while visiting another country, how much did it cost overall and what did you end up paying? I am posting this on the Europe board since it is most active but am interested in worldwide experiences.

Just to make clear: Our regular insurance will give us some coverage while out of country, and we have a long-standing travel insurance policy that includes medical care. So, my question is not whether to buy coverage that will take care of us while traveling. I am more interested in knowing how much you were charged for your emergency medical care and what kind of potential bills travelers could be looking at.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:04 AM
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I'm a Brit who gets free travel insurance from his bank so not really able to help but topping because I want to know the answer too
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:12 AM
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Most Americans report paying less than 50€ for treatment in the emergency room of any public hospital in France, if anything. The emergency room never requests payment at the time of treatment but sends a bill to your home address a month or two later.

A visit to a GP costs 23€ in France if you have no other coverage.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:22 AM
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I'm a Belgian who gets free treatement in all of Europe.

We just had a visit to a hospital, I must sen dthe papers properly documented to my 'mutuelle' (healtcare) and will get refunded.

Outside Europe it is a little bit more complex but we also get refunded. hat is not covered by national healthcare will be by my insurance.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:26 AM
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Cheaper than an emergency visit in the US, that's for sure.

I dread the thought of being back in the U.S. and having an emergency come up.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:32 AM
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Wife was in the UK visiting a friend and came down with a really bad upper respiratory infection. She went to the hospital and they just put her as a guest under the friend she was visiting and the only cost was the medicine.

When I was working in Germany as a US expat, I went to see the doctor about a painful lump on the back of my neck and she sent me to the hospital. Four hours later, a sonogram, an outpatient procedure, and follow-up to remove the stitches came to 85 Euro. And that was the uninsured rate.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:33 AM
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I had to go to A&E (Emergency) in northern England last year. Examination, Xrays, meds, crutches which I still have, wrapping my ankle in a sleeve, a staff member assigned to push me around in a wheelchair for 2 hours to the various departments (Xray, pharmacy twice to drop off the prescription and later to collect the medication, exam room twice, PT and out to my car) and the only thing they could have charged me for was the prescription. But they didn't because it would have been too complicated with their computer system. I tried to pay but they wouldn't take my ££.

So when I got home I sent a donation to the hospital's charity association.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:34 AM
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In Todos Santos, Mexico I fell out of a tall bed and instinctively reached out to the nightstand to stop the fall. My hand landed right on the rim of a margarita glass, which shattered and dug deep into my palm.

It cost USD $5 to get it nicely stitched up in the local health clinic in the morning.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:45 AM
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Well, as someone who lives in the US and who knows all of the problems with our health care system (and its costs) I am already depressed after hearing about these low costs for emergency care elsewhere.

As an example for those of you who live outside of the US, a couple years ago my husband had a cardiac emergency that luckily turned out not to be a heart attack but rather something much more minor. He was taken by ambulance from our home to the hospital, treated in the emergency room, had a radiological procedure (angiogram), and was in the cardiac intensive care ward for two days. Total bill $22,000.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:48 AM
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In South Korea, a trip to the hospital for a sprained back/muscle spasms cost $15. Thinking the charge would be much, much more, we pulled out a credit card, which the hospital could not take. Relative then volunteered to put it on a South Korean card so we asked for the total so we could reimburse...and were so surprised at the 18,000won charge. Paid cash and left happy...and pain free.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:50 AM
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My wife had to have a scheduled procedure and the total cost of everything, including the 4 nights in the hospital (private room), physical therapy, and follow-up visits was less than 6000 Euro. That was the "uninsured" rate. After insurance reimbursed us the 80% they were responsible for, we were only 1200 Euro out of pocket.

If we had it done in the US, even with insurance, it would have costs us over $5k
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:51 AM
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janisj - that is to change. The NHS will charge foreigners for emergency treatment soon.

As far as Europeans receiving free treatment throughout Europe that isn't strictly true. If you are visiting a country where the locals have to pay a certain amount before their treatment is covered, or have to pay for GP visits then Europeans have to do the same. You can reclaim it from your travel insurance but not from you local health care scheme under the terms of the EHIC. And you have to have an EHIC to show or some places will charge you regardless.
One thing you have to make sure of in countries like Spain is that you are not taken to a private hospital in an emergency - the EHIC only covers state funded care.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 06:52 AM
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Greece: An hour and a half in the ER treatment room with an MD and a nurse,wound cleaning, stitches, €3. Follow up care in other National Hospitals around the country, no charge oncluding femoving stitches. My antibiotics cost €9. The hospital printed out my receipt so I could file a claim for tne €3 when I got home. I still have it. Our supplemental insurance covers ER care abroad.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:06 AM
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I had a respiratory infection while in Rome once. After a long wait at Santo Spirito and a visit with the doctor they didn't charge me anything. Wrote down a script for a medication that I was able to buy in a pharmacy. So mine was pretty minor, and is not the best example of 'what-if', but I was certainly wondering the same thing you are, seeing as how just a visit to the US ER is so wildly expensive. I didn't ask them, they didn't say anything about payment, so I left. And never got anything in the mail either. I didn't know if it was because I really ought not to be charged or if it was another case of 'why bother?' that I and others have encountered so often in Italy. Not a generalization of all Italians by any means, but it's a common enough attitude to find.

(I tried to buy cough drops/throat lozenges shortly after and the woman at the counter insisted they didn't sell them there...at the pharmacy. :/ After asking her for the fourth time (in Italian, mind you) she reached into the drawer next to her and asked 'oh, these?'. Yes. Those.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:11 AM
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As mentioned above it was announced in the news within the last week that there is a to be more effort made to recoup healthcare costs from tourists in the UK. I would take that to mean tourists from nations that do not have reciprocal agreements. There has been some commentary about the complexity of invoicing people abroad etc and how hard pressed doctors won't have time to put together the paperwork for this, but the sums said to be involved are in the billions now so I think it likely some sort of increased drive to claim back costs will start sooner rather than later.

I am going to go out on a limb and say I absolutely hate these threads which I know often are intended merely to hilight the costs of care in different countries, but when half the anecdotes coming back are of how such and such a person wasn't charged because the hospital didn't have the time and resources to process an invoice, really what other message does that give than 'its ok not to take out cover because it's likely you won't be persued'
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:12 AM
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Kinda like speeding and parking tickets, right?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:14 AM
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In Prague $4400 for 16 days in hospital for treatment of pneumonia. It was reimbursed by my health insurance. My doctor was totally wowed. My DD had a shot in her spine in Slovakia. Payment was a bottle of wine. SIL was taken to hospital in Amiens, France. Given all sorts of tests . Charged $250.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:15 AM
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Our visit to the emergency room (broken ankle) in Sicily cost us nothing. Our U.S. plan covered the 6 week follow up visits in France minus the standard co-pay.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:26 AM
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I was listening to the Doctors on Radio 4 a couple of days discussing emergency charges for foreigners (which might come in as described above) they worked out they might charge £60 for a broken arm. I guess ambulance on top.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:26 AM
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I think this thread is pointless in providing any real information. Costs for emergency care will vary depending on country, facility, and what is wrong with you and the treatment and procedures you need, as well as the way that country and facility bill foreigners. SO what's the point of such anecdotal questioning and info. People should have health insurance for when they are abroad, period, end of story. Anyone that can afford to travel for no reason but pleasure can afford to buy it.

If not, yes, you can presume it will be cheaper than the US, but that could still be thousands if it's something serious.
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