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Travel Medical Insurance - is it really necessary? (Italy)

Travel Medical Insurance - is it really necessary? (Italy)

Old Apr 14th, 2010, 07:21 PM
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Travel Medical Insurance - is it really necessary? (Italy)

This from Italy's official government tourism board: Italy has no medical program covering U.S. and Canada citizens. Therefore, U.S. and Canadian tourists are advised to take out an insurance policy before traveling.

Yet, when I was there in October '07 and was taken by ambulance to one hospital and then referred to a second, neither asked for payment of any kind. When I asked about the bill, they both indicated "no charge".

SO, what is the story? Why would two hospitals treat a foreigner for free if they were not somehow reimbursed for it? They sure wouldn't do it here in the US.

Any ex-Pats living in Italy? Anyone natives that can explain it?

Bottom line, do I need to purchase Travel Medical Insurance? I gotta know.... I've been a slacker on this and we leave next Tuesday!

Thanks!
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 07:30 PM
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In more than 20 trips, I've never worried about this. Perhaps I'm wrong. I suspect a hospital would not throw you out. To an Italian, I can imagine that it would be easier to treat you and send you on your way than to have to explain why they couldn't treat you.

My friend in Florence told me this Italian saying: "Fatta la legge, trovato l'inganno." (Make the law, find the trick [loophole, scam].)
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 07:40 PM
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Absolutely necesssary.

Medical insurance will not only cover you in the country you go to - and make sure it does - but also if you wish will fly you to the home with emergency service or to the hospital of your choice....furthermore if you have to cut your trip short because of the illness, the insurance will repay all your advance purchases of hotel, air, etc...including the un scheduled flight home.

Take it from one whose been there, done that.
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 07:43 PM
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I guess the only thing you really need to worry about is Medical Evacuation Insurance, should something happen and you, or someone else, wants you to be taken care of at home. The typical medivac cost can amount to $35,000 or more. The problem is that most Americans do not have sufficient coverage when traveling.

Italy, like Spain and France, have socialized medicine and will generally take care of anyone needing assistance, but at least in Spain, they ask you to pay the bill.
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 07:50 PM
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I have never bought it but its the evacuation part I worry about. We have a month trip to Egypt & Jordan this Sept & my husband is having back issues-he just had his 3rd epideral last week. Sees a ssurgeon next week. Am I nervous-YOU BET
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 09:55 PM
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Check your own medical insurance first as it may cover you out of the country, but usually not evacuation.

Emergency treatment will be free in Italy, but if you just need a doctor visit, you will probably have to pay a bit(they typically will have a doctor come to the hotel). The Roma Pass includes some medical service now.

Roma Pass Travel Health MET
By calling the multilingual CALL CENTER, available 24 hours a day, it is possible to:
* Ask information about public and private medical facilities available throughout the city
* Receive information regarding location, address, telephone number and method of access to the Public Healthcare Facilities that are closest or most appropriate for the resolution of health related problems
* Activate, after explicit request, the medical assistance services (house-call visits, diagnostic services, specialty services, ambulance services), provided by Travel Health MET to Roma Pass holders at discounted fees
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 10:20 PM
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Not needed - if you are willing to cover your own risks which may run into tens of thousands of dollars especially if something really bad happens and you need to be flown back to the US.

Like most civilised countries you will be given emergency treatment - ie stuff that would normally mean you get hospitalised.
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 11:51 PM
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We always take out Travel Insurance no matter where we go overseas.

A couple of years ago our friend was in a Swiss Hospital for 4 days waiting for a gallstone to pass - cost was 8000CH all covered by his insurance. He wasn't allowed to leave the hospital without paying - thank goodness he had a large limit on his Credit Card.

Our daughter broke her ankle earlier this year in Canada and required surgery to put a plate in, this was all covered by her insurance as well as the op to remove it in December. The bill for the ambulance alone was $600 - she would have been up the creek so to speak without that insurance!

Our view is that if we can afford to travel we can afford the extra for insurance. You just never know.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 12:27 AM
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Why should the tax payers of Italy or any other European country foot the bill for Americans who are taken ill in their country?

So you were lucky last time and they didn't charge you, but next time they may, and it may be a lot.

If your own medical insurance doesn't cover you then spend a few extra dollars and take out insurance.
As Maudie says, if you can afford to travel you can afford the insurance.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 01:25 AM
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What is your probability of taking ill or getting injured? What would you expect your costs to be in such a scenario? Multiply your probability by your costs. If that number exceeds the cost of the insurance, then buy the insurance.

Myself, I do have an international medical insurance policy, but have never actually used it outside of the US. I would not pay for it myself.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 02:42 AM
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The general practice in Italy is that proper hospitals aren't really set up to charge for emergencies. But in theory, people from countries without a reciprocal arrangement are supposed to pay, so you WILL be charged for most non-emergencies, and can't guarantee you'll get off free for an emergency either.

Be very, very careful about forking out for evacuation policies. Most such policies are a complete waste of money: you'll only be repatriated if it's clinically necessary, the insurance company makes that decision - and no company on earth will offer, unless they have to, to transfer you from Italy to the US, where they'll be charged more for inadequate care, on top of the cost of a medijet.

You CAN buy "no questions asked" medevac. This is a great deal costlier - and it's often a great deal riskier to fly someone seriously ill from Italy than to have them treated there anyway. You really need to be sure you value the benefit.

What really matters for most people is getting home comfortably after discharge from hospital. So make sure the insurance you get covers the travel disruption inevitable for anything beyond a sprained ankle.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 03:05 AM
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I bought "no questions asked medivac" for US$250 which covered me for an entire year.

And it is evacuation to any hospital, not only the closest one.

http://www.medjetassist.com/
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 05:33 AM
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Read the fine print very carefully for any medical evacuation insurance. Many policies do include "medical evacuation," but when you read the details it often turns out to be "medical evacuation" to the medical facility nearest to where you were injured or you became ill--usually an ambulance ride. Often it will say that they will evacuate you to the medical facility nearest your home OR nearest to where you were injured/ill AT THEIR OPTION, not your option. Just read carefully.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 05:51 AM
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I always buy medical insurance as I am over 65 and medicare does not cover anything outside the US. I also have BlueCross supplmentay and sure that would cover very little.
If I had a back problem which I have I would definitely have insurance. I am going to Israel in May and bought my insurance when I booked the trip. Coverage is much better if you buy the insurance at the same time especially if it is a booked trip with a tour company. Check insurance on Insuremytrip.com
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 05:56 AM
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My husband and I took out medjetassist (thanks Ekscrunchy) for our trip to Egypt and Jordan last December. I was thankful that we didn't need it but felt alot better having it since he has some heart issues.

As an international flight attendant, I cannot begin to tell you how many passengers I have had with accidents and health issues while in Italy. Broken ankles;falling on marble steps and knocking out teeth or needed stitches on their face,etc. Sometimes my Rome and Venice flights look like "war zone combat flights" during the summertime.The one thing that I learned is pay for the insurance because it can get expensive for even the little things.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 06:02 AM
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I visited a hospital in Sorrento as an outpatient and was charged (a nominal fee), and I saw a doctor in Cefalu and was not charged. However, my US medical insurance covers me for emergencies abroad - when I broke my wrist in Switzerland the hospital called my insurance company to confirm coverage.

I carry annual medevac insurance from tenweb.com - they arranged a car and driver and plane tickets to get me home from Switzerland. Several people on the Asia board use Divers Alert Network, which is cheaper.

There is no way I would travel without both medical and medical evacuation insurance. No matter how healthy you are, accidents happen, and are more likely to happen in strange environments.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 01:21 PM
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They have similar laws in other countries, that you MUST have insurance to enter (like the Czech Republic). They have never made me prove it, though, upon entry, I suspect they may do that based on where you are from or subjective criteria.

Hospitals will often, indeed, treat people for free in the US if they are in the emergency room. It's a law. IN fact, there was a recent thread on here about that. I mean, the hospital may bill someone, but they don't know if you will pay when they treat you in the US, for emergencies.

You seem to want to know what you can get away with rather than what would be the prudent thing to do. DO you have health insurance that would cover you abroad? If not, I'd sure buy it.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 01:26 PM
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Christina: >>You seem to want to know what you can get away with . . .<<

The thread is <B>4 years old</B> (was topped by a new member touting coverage in Canada - may be spamming - who knows?)
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 01:34 PM
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With respect to med insurance covering your travel from some foreign place to home:

It is almost always the case that it is entirely <i>their</i> decision as to whether they will pay to bring you home.

For example, if you suddenly require surgery in London, UK, it is highly unlikely that they will pay to bring you to Madison, GA because you would feel more comfortable at home.

About the only thing you can be sure of is that they will pay to repatriate your remains.
ira is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 03:17 PM
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I don't worry about it. If I am in Paris I know the French medical system is probably at least the equivalent of that in the States for almost all situations, and a lot less costly. If I have to recover from a broken ankle, I would LOVE to do so in Paris, rather than back home.

At my age, if it is a serious incident and I collapse in the street, my dear wife has strict instructions to thrust a pain au chocolate in my mouth and step on my neck, rather than let people pound on my chest. I will go with a smile on my face.
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