Do I really need repatriation and evacuation assistance?
When you take the decision to live abroad, having emergency repatriation assistance (also called medical insurance) is a necessity in case of accident or illness. Bear in mind that the public health system in your home country may offer quality services and coverage, but this is certainly not the case in every country in the world! It is therefore important to check whether your insurance plan includes this service.
Why is this so important?
If you wish to move to an area where the provided care is limited, you should take advantage of this service for your own safety. If the country where you have settled down does not offer appropriate treatment, then medical evacuation enables you to be transferred to another country in order to be treated according to your needs. This differs from repatriation, which means that the patient is taken back to his or her home country.
Although most credit cards offer certain guarantees, these are often capped and, above all, limited in time. It is therefore more prudent to subscribe an international health insurance if you are planning to move away for several months. In areas with few good quality medical services, it becomes an absolute necessity. You also need to be aware that most international health insurance for expats will reimburse medical treatments related to an evacuation or repatriation, but transportation costs are not always covered. You must then find an additional evacuation/repatriation assistance.
The costs of evacuation and repatriation is related to the region where the individual is located, it is difficult to give an average cost as it can greatly vary, potentially up to several tens of thousands of euros. Moreover, the urgency of the situation often implies a significant additional cost, for example in the case of repatriation by medical aircraft.
Which countries are most at risk?
These regions correspond more generally to countries with a high health risk. For instance, environmental factors, infectious diseases or access to medicines and drug treatments are considered. Here is a non-exhaustive list (Guide de l’expatriation 2019, Petit Futé, Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette) of the regions where we advise expatriates to take out an evacuation assistance policy:
High Medical Risk countries:
The African continent (Libya, Somalia, Nigeria, Mauritania, Congo, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic) because the health system is very precarious;
Iraq, North Korea, Syria because the political situation affects medical services;
Eastern countries such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan;
Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar…
- Medium Medical Risk countries:
Risk of infectious diseases and medical care reserved for affluent citizens.
Central and South America (Mexico, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru);
Eastern European countries (Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Russia).
Middle East (Turkey, Saudi Arabia)…
Even if you are not planning to travel to one of these countries anytime soon, we strongly advise you to be cautious when purchasing medical assistance. It is also important to keep in mind that repatriation and evacuation must be motivated by concrete and tangible medical reasons. This is by no means a decision taken lightly.
At Foyer Global Health, our additional assistance includes evacuation and repatriation to the country of residence/origin and related costs (transportation, etc.) under certain circumstances. Find more information about how Foyer Global Health covers medical evacuation.