Medical cover when travelling

I am relocating to the UK in August. While I do qualify for cover under the NHS, this can take a while to set up, and during this time it is important to have medical cover in place should something happen. A medical emergency can end up costing you a small fortune if you find yourself in a foreign country with no travel insurance or medical cover in place.

There are several options available for travel insurance or medical when travelling abroad. Many banks offer travel insurance if you purchase your air ticket with your credit card. However, if you are the member of a medical aid, they may have an international travel benefit that you can take advantage of.

As a Discovery Health member, I am making use of the Discovery Health international travel benefit. If you are a member of Discovery Health, you can apply for an international travel benefit letter on your online profile, which is sent through almost immediately. This can be used when applying for your visa. According to a Discovery Health call centre agent, once you have this letter, there is no need to apply for the international travel benefit, as you are covered for 90 days of international travel.

However, it is important to make sure you know what is covered, as there are certain expenses that you will still be responsible for, even when in a foreign country.

Who is eligible for cover, and what is covered?

“The international travel benefit is available on the Executive Plan, Comprehensive, Priority, Saver Smart and Core Series. Members on the KeyCare Series do not have access to the international travel benefit,” explains Discovery Health.

It elaborates: “The international travel benefit offers medical emergency cover outside the borders of the Republic of South Africa. ER24, through its international partner, Euro Centre, assists members in medical emergencies while travelling.”

The Discovery Health international travel benefit offers emergency cover outside of South Africa for 90 days from the day of departure, to qualifying medical aid members. Discovery Health says: “You must be an active member of the Scheme at the time of the claim and also not be in a three-month general waiting period. Healthcare services related to a condition-specific waiting period are not covered on the International Travel Benefit.

“The cover ends on your return home or after 90 days from your date of departure from the Republic of South Africa, whichever happens first. If you are travelling for more than 90 days, you have to arrange additional travel insurance for medical cover through your travel agent before leaving the Republic of South Africa.”

Any treatment received must be from a qualified healthcare professional.

How much cover do you get?

Executive Plan members receive R10 million medical emergency cover per person for each journey.  Members of the Classic, Essential, Coastal and Smart plans receive R5 million cover per person for each journey.

“We cover out-of-hospital, medical emergency claims after you have paid the first €100 (about R1,525.36) or $150 (about R2,001.12) for each person, on each journey,” says Discovery Health.

The medical scheme emphasises: “The benefit does not cover you for elective treatment, any treatment related to a pre-existing medical or surgical condition and any treatment received outside of the 90-day period.”

For more information on the Discovery Health international travel benefit, click here.

Other medical aids in South Africa offer similar a travel benefit to that of Discovery Health. The best way to find out if you are covered when travelling and what the cover entails is to contact your medical scheme directly.

For more information on relocating to the UK, click here.

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