Health costs abroad

If everyone knew how much it cost to receive medical treatment abroad, no one would think about leaving home without adequate travel insurance.

The USA is the one place in the world where you don’t want to get sick or have an accident without travel insurance. Medical treatment will probably be more expensive in the USA so if you’re planning a holiday, whether you’re skiing in Colorado or basking in the Florida sun, it goes without saying that you’d be mad to go without travel insurance. You should also make sure that the limits are high enough to cope with larger medical bills for more serious injuries, for example, a broken leg.

Things are much simpler within the EU. Travellers who carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may get access to state-provided medical treatment in EU countries. But remember it won’t necessarily cover everything that’s included under the UK NHS service.

So, for example, if you break an arm or leg you may be expected to pay towards an x-ray and putting the limb in a cast. That’s why it’s important to take out travel insurance. And of course, the EHIC card won’t cover the cost of repatriation or the cost of special assistance or air ambulance on the flight back.

You also need to be aware that some EU countries (for example Spain and Cyprus) do not have many state-provided health centres. In these countries, private clinics are more common and your EHIC would not entitle you to access treatment there.

Here are some common holiday ailments and injuries and the cost of treatment in various countries.


USA - Minor operations like an appendectomy can cost £20,000 (if there are no complications) for an uninsured person.

India - Even in a relatively inexpensive country like India an appendectomy at a private clinic or hospital (there’s no reciprocal medical agreement with the UK) will set you back around £800.

Australia - The UK has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia allowing UK citizens access to limited subsidised health services for emergency treatment. So if you do need to have your appendix out you won’t be faced with a huge bill at the end of it.

EU countries - As acute appendicitis is classed as an emergency treatment, you should only have to pay a minimum amount towards the healthcare costs. In some countries the EHIC card only automatically covers 75% of the costs and you’ll have to make up the rest. Only if you have travel insurance will you be able to claim this extra amount back.

Broken Limb

A fractured lower leg can cost over £6,000 to treat in the USA. In the EU you can get access to the equivalent of the NHS, drastically reducing the cost of treatment but you will still have to pay something towards it, which is why it’s vital that you don’t just rely on your EHIC card. The cost in Australia will also be minimal if you are treated under the Medicare scheme.

However, should you break a limb in India, as a tourist you won’t be entitled to use local medical facilities so you will have to rely on private medical care, which is quite expensive. In fact there is a burgeoning tourist health industry, which is tipped to be the next big thing in the country. So getting treatment for a broken limb could end up costing you hundreds of pounds.

Emergency dental treatment

Toothache on holiday can be hell and it’s one health problem that can’t wait until you get back home. The cost of dental work varies quite a lot in Europe.

The prices for extractions are: £24 (Poland), £43 (Greece) and £40 (Germany). And should you need an emergency filling, expect to pay around £23 (Poland), £30 (Greece) and £100 (Germany).

USA - A simple tooth extraction starts at £50. If it’s a surgical extraction it will cost upwards of £70 and a basic filling will set you back £40. The initial consultation is extra – around £30 minimum.

Australia - UK tourists are not entitled to dental treatment under Medicare so expect to pay around £90 for an extraction and fillings start at £40.

India - The price of dental treatment is substantially lower on the Indian subcontinent – £18 for an extraction and £23 for a filling.

All above quoted average costs were correct as of July 2008. Source of costs - Global Excel Management.

Wherever you’re having your emergency dental treatment or indeed any medical treatment it’s wise to choose the practitioner based on quality rather than price.

Make sure you are fully aware of all the health implications and possible costs involved before you travel. Get an online travel insurance quote from Churchill today.