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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, 07:38 AM
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Our insurance covers urgent care anywhere in the world. Of course, outside the US medical care is cheaper. Cheryl had urgent care in Bangkok, met with a specialist, a full range of tests plus medications for about US$200. All was reimbursed by our insurance.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:51 AM
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>>The NHS will charge foreigners for emergency treatment soon.

This shower of a government has launched a consultation on the principle of doing so, so it isn't yet a done deal. But such is the way of things, consultations have a habit of turning out to produce the answer the government wants. Whether it will make its way through parliament, with the upper house in its present mood, is another matter.

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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 07:52 AM
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Visit to a doctor in France this year for a virus cost me 30 euro. I had travel medical insurance but probably won't bother to file.

Broken wrist in Switzerland in 2005 was considerably more expensive. Attempt to set under X-ray, surgery under anesthetic to insert pins, night in the hospital (six person ward). I forget the exact cost, I think it was $3,000 or $4,000, but I do remember that the out-patient surgery to remove the pins in the US took very little time and cost almost the same amount. At the time I had employer group health insurance which reimbursed the Swiss bill.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 08:32 AM
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I have an amazing story to tell. A friend of ours received his bone marrow from a a young man from an old mining town in Germany (north of Dusseldorf, I think). Last summer, they decided to visit the donor and his family - both families were so excited as the father of the donor now considered him as his own son. On the 5th day of their 2-week visit, his appendix ruptured and had to go to ER! It sounds like it would just be a simple surgery, but in his condition (still taking meds for graft v host disease), it was scary. They were quite impressed with the doctors, hospital staff, and excellent care they provided. His wife thought they would have had to take a second mortgage to pay for numerous blood tests, surgery and hospital stay. The bill was less than 3000 euros which Kaiser reimbursed, no questions asked (why would they, they are thankful there was no extra zero in the bill!).
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 09:13 AM
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" Whether it will make its way through parliament, with the upper house in its present mood, is another matter."

Believe me: it will.

It's politically naive to imagine that the opposition parties would fritter away political goodwill by voting to waste taxpayers' money to offer free medical care to affluent foreigners.

Neither opposition party is going to let its peers take a position that would damage their MPs' election chances - and give Osborne just the excuse he wants to curtail the Lords' ability to hold him to account.

I appreciate it's possible a proper study might show that charging in our system would cost more than it'd raise - and I've seen no evidence health tourism costs anything like the billions RM67 claims. But it's just silly to think the Tories are stupid enough to go ahead with the charging plans if that turns out to be the case.

A party doesn't get to be the most successful political machine anywhere ever by being stupid. Its opponents have allowed it to become so successful by constantly underestimating its electoral competence.

They're not going to charge foreigners if it doesn't make money. Whether they're capable of ensuring the charging system then works as planned, of course, is a completely different question. Think of the congestion charge.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 09:24 AM
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France has also announced that medical care will no longer be provided for foreigners without advance payment -- except at the emergency room. This is due to the millions of euros owed by people from the Gulf countries and West Africa who come to France for the most expensive treatments and never pay their bills. This represents millions of euros. Frankly, I must admit that I worked for a Saudi company for almost my entire career and we already had to send cheques for hundreds of thousands of euros to the Institut Gustave Roussy in advance for the treatment of employees and their families since this was one of the first hospitals to learn its lesson about certain foreigners not paying what they owed.

Meanwhile, I am not at all suprised that Christina finds this thread pointless, because her dour attitude about just about everything is being seriously challenged by the positive reports that most people are giving. This must be quite painful for her.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 09:25 AM
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'and I've seen no evidence health tourism costs anything like the billions RM67 claims.'

This proposal isn't aimed specifically at 'health tourism', which refers to people coming to the UK with the aim of getting medical treatment for a pre-existing condition - its the total pool of costs, which extends to those having illness or accidents whilst visiting (which is obviously unplanned and not a deliberate attempt to take advantage of the system, but nonetheless eats into the budget), failed asylum seekers, expats etc
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 09:26 AM
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My only experience was a really bad chest cold/cough that I came down with in Paris and I wanted to get an antibiotic for. The hotel gave me the name of a private MD and I believe the cost was 25 euros for a brief visit/prescription.

I would always do this versus waiting in a national health clinic - but naturally if you need ER services then obviously you will need to go to a public hosptial
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 09:32 AM
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A number of years ago in Dubrovnik I went to an emergency room for a lung problem. An exam and prescription cost some small amount for which I proffered a large denomination bill; the only money I had. They said, "Forget it.", as they had do change. I really knew I was not in the States then.

A few years ago I went to the American Hospital in Paris with a similar problem. A thorough examination by a specialist, and a prescription cost in the neighborhood of €100, which was reimbursed by my Blue Cross medical insurance in the States with no quibbles.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 09:36 AM
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My only experience was in the foreign country of the United States.. Hawaii specifically.

1992- 2 yr old son got a flower bud ( he was sniffing it ) stuck way up his nose.

Cost at walk in clinic for doctor to use long tweezers.. ( treatment time.. 2 minutes) .. 200 dollars.
That was 23 years ago.. can't imagine what it would be now. We were reimbursed at home by our travellers insurance .

Just a note.. we ALWAYS get supplemental medical insurance no matter where we travel. .and there are two rates .. ( this is the same no matter where you get your insurance here)
This is the question you will be asked:


"Will you be travelling to USA" or "World with no United States".. obviously cheaper rates apply to anywhere else in the whole world EXCEPT the States..
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 10:06 AM
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5 days in a Berlin hospital for Pneumonia cost my dad $6000 USD. But as he has supplemental Medicare insurance, 80% was reimbursed.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 10:21 AM
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My experience in going to ER in Naples after a fall that left my face bloodied - all the services she got and when I asked how much I owed - they said nothing - that they had no way to charge anyone anything except for prescription.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 10:56 AM
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Re: needmorevacation's post:

1. Medicare povides NO coverage outsode the US.

2. Medicare Advantage plans may or may not, it depends on the individual policy.

3. Some, but NOT all, supplemental (Medigap) policies provide coverage. BUT the coverage has a lifetime $50,000 cap and pays 80%.

I am now on Medicare with a Medigap plan that provides coverage, but I still take out additional insurance, not to mention evacuation and repatriation insurance.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 11:00 AM
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that they had no way to charge anyone anything except for prescription.

I was told very specifically that ER care is free, at least in Sicily (might there be regional differences?).
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 11:19 AM
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The standard cost to see a GP in France if you don't have a carte vitale is 23 euros. To see a specialist costs about 59 euros. Doctors will always give you a form you can submit to your insurance company back in your home country to try to get reimbursed.

The only emergency room I've ever been to in Europe was in Italy, when my daughter needed stitches in her head after an accident in Anzio. She was (very well) treated for several hours, got the stitches, and they refused to accept any payment. But that was years ago. I don't know what would happen now.

Prescriptions here are also dead cheap, even if you have no travel or other insurance. It's not unusual for me to get my magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin B1 and B6 and B12, and Vitamin D3 pills (which every doctor here tells you to take if you're my age, which isn't old), for around 10 euros. Plus, a trip to the pharmacie is always a treat - they have the coolest stuff!

If you're going to get sick or break something, do it outside the USA.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 11:49 AM
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When I needed a tetanus shot after my fall in Naples the pharmacy gave me a needle to give it to myself! When I said I doubted I wanted to do that they said don't you have a friend who can do it - again I went to the ER in Florence this time and there was no charge except for the actual tetanus vaccine.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 12:54 PM
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In December 2009 my late wife developed a severe infection while staying in an apartment in Paris. We called SOS Médicins, who sent a physician to treat her. That cost less than €100. He called an ambulance to transport her to a hospital emergency room. That was around €100, if I recollect properly. She was treated in emergency, where the doctor decided to admit her. She spent 5 days in hospital, underwent several tests, including imaging, and was treated with antibiotics. She was released with a mitt full of antibiotics and wished "bon courage". The hospital bill was €7000 or so. Other costs we incurred: I had to extend my stay in the city, so there was five nights of hotel accommodation, plus my meals and incidentals. That was something like $700 CDN, if I remember correctly. We also had to cancel our return flight to Canada (it was a reward flight, and as there were no other reward seats available, so we had to purchase revenue seats. I don't recollect what that cost, but it wasn't cheap.)

After a bit of argy bargy with my wife's travel insurance (Médivie/Blue Cross; they initially denied the claim), they ultimately reimbursed the hospital in Paris and paid a significant portion of our additional costs.

So, to answer your question ("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."), the key point I would make is that there is a huge difference between and in-an-out treatment in emergency and being admitted for care, and that the associated costs of hotels, food, transportation, flight changes, etc can add up quickly. Oh, and pet care, as our cats had to spend an extra week in jail.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 01:18 PM
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I've had to take visiting relatives to the emergency room in Italy four times.

One was bitten by a dog, whose owner was able to provide proof of rabies vaccination. She had to have minor exploratory surgery on her hand (with local anaesthesia, in the emergency room.) There was a bruise to a tendon. They bandaged and splinted the hand. No charge.

Another relative had a neurological problem, and was seen in the emergency room, and admitted for observation. The charges for all tests and two nights in the hospital were about €250. No cause was found for her problem, which didn't recur. Maybe severe jet lag?

A niece fainted twice in one day and was seen in the emergency room and given a full battery of tests: tilt table, electrocardiogram, stress test, electroencephalogram, blood tests, etc. The charge was under €100. It was decided that she had taken a prescription medicine too close to the previous dose, due to miscalculation of the time zones (10 zones away).

My granddaughter had appendicitis and was taken to the emergency room. She was given a prescription for antibiotics, which is now the preferred method here for initial treatment of appendicitis. We took her to a pediatrician a week later to evaluate whether surgery would be necessary. It wasn't, and she's been fine ever since. The emergency room charged nothing; the pediatrician (outside the national health system) charge something like €50. Her pediatrician in the US refused to believe she really had appendicitis, saying, "Here we don't give antibiotics for tummy aches." I recently read, though, that antibiotics are beginning to be used in the US for treating appendicitis, and that it's especially successful with children. We were ahead of them on that!

The difference in cost of prescription medicines is mind-boggling. I once had to make an emergency trip to the US, leaving early on a Monday morning, with no opportunity to purchase a supply of a medicine I need to take. I had only enough for the next day. I called a physician friend in the US and asked her to call in a prescription for me to a pharmacy in the town where I was going. En route, I missed a connection in Rome and had time to kill, so I went into a pharmacy at the airport to request an emergency supply of one week's worth. Since I had no prescription, I had to pay the full price of €12.

I was only planning to be in the US for a week, so I really didn't need the prescription my friend called in, but I decided to pick it up in case I was delayed on the trip home. The pharmacy didn't have the medicine on hand, but said they could order it. I asked how much it would cost (using a discount code my friend had given me). The cost for a one-week's supply was $200! And I would have had to buy a month's worth, for $800. I decided I could live with the risk of missing one day's worth of the medicine and told them not to bother ordering it.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 01:24 PM
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Medical Care in Italy for tourists: EU nationals and non-EU

In case of emergency, it is good to know how the medical care system in Italy operates: foreign visitors (from EU and non-EU countries) have exactly the same rights as Italian citizens with regard to emergency medical treatment, free of charge in emergency rooms of public hospitals.

http://www.venetoinside.com/en/disco...to/healthcare/

Doctors who work within the public health system are the best doctors in Italy, so it is not wise to seek out private doctors. They are generally regarded as second tier.

The primary reason to have travel insurance when traveling to Italy is to cover any extra travel costs you might incur should you be unable to stick to your travel plan. If doctors tell you that you should not fly for 10 days (making this up), and you therefore need an extra 10 nights in a hotel plus rearranging your air tickets, travel insurance will pay that cost for you and your immediate family traveling with you. That sort of thing. Of course it is also good if Etna erupts and your flight is cancelled, etc.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2015, 02:33 PM
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Doctors who work within the public health system are the best doctors in Italy, so it is not wise to seek out private doctors. They are generally regarded as second tier.


This may be true for general practitioners, but specialists in Italy very rarely work entirely within the national system. Almost all specialists see patients privately, although they may be affiliated with a public hospital. The only way you can choose which specialist you want to see is to make an appointment at his private office. If you make a specialist appointment through the public system, the appointment is for a "cardiology consultation", for example, and the doctor is whoever is on duty the day of your appointment.

Just as an example, when I needed surgery for a torn tendon, I made an appointment with a highly recommended orthopedic surgeon. He ordered an MRI, I think it's called in English, which I had done in the public system. I had the surgery done in the public hospital, where my specialist practiced, but the office visits were private.

Consultations through the public system have long wait times. I waited a year to see a rheumatologist; if it had been something serious, I would have wanted to choose my rheumatologist and see her quickly. That can only be done through the private system.
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