Health & Medical

How much does it cost to be hospitalised in Australia’s most popular destinations?

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This article was written by Richard Laycock. Richard is an Insurance Expert from finder.com.au

Make sure you get travel insurance before your trip just in case you get banged up while abroad.

Barely a week passes without a news story breaking about an Australian getting into trouble overseas and requiring serious medical attention. And yet, people still flock overseas without travel insurance.

Just look at the 2018 Australian Travel Insurance Behaviour survey from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT found that not only did 11% of Aussie travellers go overseas without travel insurance, but they also found that 18% of those between the age of 18 and 29 travelled without insurance.

Travelling without insurance may seem like a quick way to save some cash before you go away, but when you weigh up the cost of buying a policy versus going to the hospital, those savings quickly disappear.

How much does it cost to stay in a hospital in some of Australia’s favourite destinations?

The question over whether getting travel insurance is worth the money got us thinking, so a couple of years ago we got a hold of a World Health Organization (WHO) report that looked at just the accommodation costs of staying in a hospital.

Just to clarify, this is just the cost of you taking up a bed in a hospital. It does not include any of the costs associated with treatment, food or specialists – which is where the real money is spent.

Out of the top ten most popular destinations for Aussie travellers, in only two locations (Vietnam and Indonesia) would spending the night in a hospital bed cost you less than taking out a travel insurance policy.

Again, this report didn’t look at any of the medical costs, just the accommodation costs. For example, if you’re heading to the United States for a holiday and you wind up in hospital, that one night will cost you over $700 a night just for the bed. But what if it’s for something serious?

In 2016, a TID customer wound up in an intensive care unit (ICU) in the US for a gangrenous appendix. The cost of treatment in ICU, along with surgical and postoperative care, left this traveller with a bill of almost $200,000.

You can really see the true value of getting cover should something go wrong.

It won’t happen to me

Going overseas without travel insurance is a roll of the dice. Sure, you might head overseas and have nothing happen. In 2017-18, 10.7 million Australians made overseas trips and while the majority had an incident-free trip, 11,800 people needed help from the Australian consulate services for the following:

  • 1,540 arrests
  • 1,585 hospitalisations
  • 2,510 whereabouts inquiries
  • 1,671 deaths
  • 269 assaults

While this is only a fraction of those travellers who went abroad, these are just those that contacted the Australian consulate services. This doesn’t take into account the countless others who faced cancellations, luggage delays or had their luggage lost or stolen.


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