Canadians underestimate costs of foreign medical treatment

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No-one expects to become ill or injured while on holiday or away from home, but it does happen. And as Canadians continue to pack their bags and head out, the need to understand how much illness or injury can cost is essential, says a new BMO Insurance study.

BMO Insurance found that while we’re seasoned travelers – nearly half (43 percent) of those surveyed visited a country outside North America in the past year – we’re not always aware of how pricey a procedure could be.

The survey found:

  • Over four-in-five Canadians (82 per cent) believe it costs $5,000 or less to treat decompression sickness in Thailand, far below the actual cost of $40,000.
  • Eighty per cent of Canadians believe the cost of treating pneumonia in the U.S. is $10,000 or less, when in reality, the bill can run as high as $66,000.

The report also found that many Canadians do not know who is financially responsible should medical treatment be required while abroad. When surveyed, only half correctly identified that those travelling outside of Canada without medical insurance are themselves responsible for covering the majority of medical expenses.

“The costs associated with encountering a medical emergency while traveling can be formidable without adequate travel medical insurance,” said Julie Barker-Merz, Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, BMO Insurance in a statement. “While still in the planning stages of your vacation, be sure to do your research and investigate travel medical insurance options and purchase one that is right for your trip. Should an unfortunate event occur, the last thing you should be worrying about is whether you’ll have enough money to deal with such an emergency.”