Insurance for Meditourist

Insurance for cosmetic or plastic surgery abroad.


"Going overseas for routine  procedures can save patients a significant sum. For example, laser eye surgery in the UK costs £1,000 on average, but this can be cut to just £458 in Hungary."

Left exposed to the meditourist (medical tourist) trap
By Jo Thornhill
An estimated 100,000 Britons go abroad every year for cosmetic, dental or other types of surgery, hoping to slash the cost of treatment. But they are leaving themselves exposed if anything goes wrong, as ordinary travel insurance policies do not cover complications resulting from elective surgery abroad.

Last week, specialist travel insurer PJ Hayman launched the first policy to do this. But there are restrictions and the cover is not cheap. The policy is underwritten by Axa and covers the policyholder for treatment and lodging costs as a result of elective surgery abroad (eg. plastic or cosmetic surgery)- rather than emergency surgery - going wrong.

Cover does not begin until 48 hours after the procedure (cosmetic, plastic surgery abroad) and can last for up to 31 days while the patient is overseas. But the insurance, which extends to those up to the age of 74, ceases on return to the UK. Most dental and cosmetic surgery procedures abroad are included, plus others such as laser eye surgery, treatment for fertility problems, skin lesions, varicose veins, cataracts and hernias. B0t0x injections are covered, but heart surgery and cancer treatment are not. The surgery must take place in an officially registered clinic or regulated hospital recognised by the insurer.

PJ Hayman says that where complications arise within 48 hours of surgery the patient should return to the clinic, which will deal with the problem. But Dan Moore, senior researcher at consumer lobby group Which?, says this could create a 'grey' area and may result in disputes when it comes to claiming.
'It worries me that some people may be tempted to ignore a serious problem until past the 48-hour limit because they are worried about costs,' he says. ' Insurance for cosmetic surgery abroad is a good idea, especially as many people will not realise they are not covered by existing policies, but I have concerns about the terms of this policy and how restrictive it might be.'

PJ Hayman says claims will be dealt with on merit and, in the event of a complication, the insurer's emergency assistance team will liaise with the surgeon to clarify the validity of the claim.
Medical touristswill pay a high premium. A 45-year-old wanting breast reduction in Hungary would pay £108 to cover a seven-day trip. A 70-year-old woman having a hip replacement in Germany would have to pay £235 for the recommended 24-day stay.

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