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Paying for Hospitalization Abroad


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Street Food Connoisseur
Posts: 638
Joined: July 16th, 2006
Location: Los Angeles, CA

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Tags: travel insurance, medical
  • Added on: April 23rd, 2011
This question was raised by my girlfriend, who, although she has agreed to come with me to South America, is afraid of getting ill. She has read in the Lonely Planet Guide to Argentina that medical providers there insist on getting paid in cash -- irrespective of how much health insurance the patient may carry.

Is it true that healthcare providers in a foreign country can refuse treatment unless they are paid in cash on the barrelhead? If that is the case, what is the point of getting travel insurance? I get the feeling that some accommodation is possible if only because it's necessary.


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Street Food Connoisseur
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Joined: March 26th, 2007
Location: New Zealand

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  • Added on: April 24th, 2011
When our daughter required hospital treatment in Cambodia, we had to pay up front.
However 1) it did not cost much (a matter of a couple of hundred dollars for everything; all tests, medications, dressings, needles, specialist treatment, having English-speaking doctor called out after hours etc) and 2) we still claimed on insurance later and were paid in full.
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Joined: December 5th, 2005
Location: London or Chicago

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  • Added on: April 25th, 2011
Corvinus wrote:Is it true that healthcare providers in a foreign country can refuse treatment unless they are paid in cash on the barrelhead?

That really varies by country. And some countries even provide free Emergency treatment. Also some countries have agreements with each other to treat their respective citizens. But, for the most part though, it's best to assume you will be paying up front and then will need to get reimbursed by the Insurance company. Keep in mind that for major treatment you may want to have a policy with emergency evacuation that will bring you back home for treatment.


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Joined: January 12th, 2008
Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

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  • Added on: April 25th, 2011
I (Canadian) once needed treatment at a clinic in the US & had to pay upfront :( however in El Salvador treatment at clinics is free, even for gringo foreigners. 8-)

It's all very :?
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