5 myths about medical evacuation

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Many people will only come across medical evacuation on TV. Perhaps when the news reports on a natural disaster, or in a military movie when wounded soldiers are airlifted from the battlefield. The reality of a medical evacuation – or repatriation – can be quite different though. We’ve lined up five common misconceptions about medical evacuation. 

1. Medical evacuation is only for emergency situations

It’s true that medical transports can often happen in response to an emergency – a patient is rushed into hospital by ambulance or helicopter. But that does not always have to be the case. Patients or their families might still require medical transport services, or even a medical repatriation, if the situation is not urgent. In these cases, when there is no time pressure, travelling by road ambulance or on a commercial flight with a medical escort can offer many benefits in terms of comfort and cost. Medical transports can be arranged in advance and can offer a solution for people who might not be able to travel on regular transport. 

2. My travel insurance won’t cover my medical evacuation

Despite what people might expect, most standard travel insurance policies cover repatriation – you don’t need specific repatriation insurance. However, your payout will depend on your level and type of travel insurance; basic travel insurance won’t pay out as much as premium travel insurance. Your payout may also be limited by a pre-existing condition, or if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you became ill or injured.

If you think you might require medical evacuation, it’s best to get in touch with the Emergency Assistance services at your insurance company to discuss your options. Your situation will be assessed in detail by a specialist team at the travel insurers, and they may agree to cover some or all of the repatriation costs.

After assessing your situation, your insurance company may initially say that they won’t cover you for repatriation, perhaps because they think that your medical condition isn’t critical, or that local medical care in adequate. Sometimes they feel that travelling can wait until the patient is a bit better. However, you may prefer an immediate return to your home country where medical treatment may be superior, and you’re in a familiar environment and closer to loved ones. If that’s the case, it might be worth getting in touch with an independent medical repatriation company, like EMS.

3. I can’t be repatriated if I’m not insured or my insurance are refusing to cover the repatriation. 

There are some medical evacuation services who work exclusively with insurance companies and who only repatriate patients if their insurer has confirmed they will cover the costs. EMS 24-7 is not one of them! We are here to help, whether you are insured or not.  We understand that there are many reasons why a patient or their family might prefer a repatriation over a prolonged stay in a local hospital abroad. As fully qualified medical practitioners, we can assess both your situation and the quality of the healthcare that you’re receiving, and whether you could be better treated in your home country. If it’s safe to bring you home, we can act immediately – often on the same day. 

NB. If you are insured, your insurance company may still pay part or all of the repatriation cost after being presented with an invoice, depending on your insurance and your situation. 

4. Medical evacuation is too expensive.

Though it’s true that most medical repatriations involve significant costs, these might not be as high as many people think. Our experience and expertise have also taught us that more is possible than might appear at first. 

The cost of a repatriation depends on a number of factors including, mode of transport, the patient’s condition, the number and qualifications of the medical team required, distance etc. To get the most accurate idea of what’s involved, it’s best to request a free quote through our website, or to get in touch and discuss your situation with one of our medical coordinators. You can get in touch with EMS 24-7 by phone, email, live chat or Whatsapp message.

5. Medical evacuation is too risky because I won’t receive medical care while travelling.

All patient transport carries risk, but our qualified medical teams are carefully selected to match your situation’s particular needs, so that quality care can be carried out and treatment can be continued – even in transit. We only use the highest quality medical equipment, and our road and air ambulances are ICU-equipped with life-saving technology for every medical emergency. We can continue hospital treatment as well as respond to changes in the patient’s condition. In fact, we have found that it’s not uncommon for patients to improve during the journey, especially if the standard of care they had been receiving previously, was less than to be desired. 

If you have any questions regarding our services, or would like to talk through your situation to find out what the options are, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are here 24/7.

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