Medical evacuation: getting a loved one home


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Medical evacuation: getting a loved one home

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), more than 20,000 Australians a year experience complications when travelling overseas. This figure includes over 700 hospital admissions, 600 deaths and 100 evacuations to another location for medical treatmenti.


Travel insurance can help to get a sick or injured traveller treatment overseas and if necessary home.

For someone injured or unwell, medical expenses overseas can be unpredictable and excessiveii. In some situations, it may be necessary for them to be transferred to the nearest hospital or home to Australia for treatmentiii. The process involved in bringing them home can be complicated, time-consuming and costly. For example, medical evacuations to Australia from the United States can range from $75,000-$300,000, while there have been some reported cases of medical evacuations from Bali costing more than $60,000iii. Under tragic circumstances, you may find yourself in the position of arranging for a deceased person to come home. This can also be expensive and difficult, due to medical, legal and bureaucratic proceduresiv.

However, there are some internationally accessible Australian services that can help. Operating overseas, 'missions', such as embassies, consulates and high commissions represent the Australian Government and provide services for Australians and their relatives travelling or living abroadv. The first point of contact when trying to get a family member or friend home would be the nearest mission. They can offer guidance, support and information to assist the family or traveller when dealing with the administrative and legal demands of a foreign countryvi.

Travel insurance is strongly recommended by a variety of organisations and government bodies such as the Australian Federation of Travel Agentsiii, DFATi, and the Insurance Council of Australiavii for a range of reasons:

Travel insurance can cover medical and hospital expenses so that all you have to worry about is a quick recovery.

With travel insurers and Australian missions providing 24-hour assistance hotlines, advice and information is accessible from any country. Travel insurance can help to cover expenses incurred by the policyholder for both medical assistance overseas and the costs associated with medical transfer and evacuation to the nearest hospital or to Australia.


i Insurance Council of Australia, 2012, Travel Insurance Key Points for Consumers, http://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/for-consumers/consumer-tips/travel-insurance

ii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Smartraveller), Death, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/death.html

iii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Smartraveller), 2011, Insurance, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/insurance.html#basics

iv Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Smartraveller), Consular Services Charter, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/services/consular-services-charter.html

v Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2013, Part 2: Consular services: welfare of Australians overseas, http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/consular-operations-handbook/part2.html#Chapter_8:_Deaths_of_Australians_overseas

vi Australian Federation of Travel Agents, Why You Need Travel Insurance, http://www.afta.com.au/WhyYouNeedTravelInsurance

vii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Smartraveller), 2011, Health, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/health.html