Many expats unwittingly put themselves, their families and loved ones at risk by not realising that hospitals in almost two thirds of countries across the world do not screen blood before transfusions.
This could mean that a life-saving operation or medical procedure can be exposing the expat to the risk of contracting blood-borne diseases like strains of hepatitis or the AIDS virus.
Medical care is often a gamble as few countries have the resources to offer a full-scale health service with trained staff, up-to-the-minute technology and access to the latest drugs and treatment.
According to expat medical insurer ALC Global Health Insurance –
- Only a fifth of countries have technology capable of detecting and treating emerging infections
- Measles cases soared by 50% in the USA last year, and the increase is blamed on infected travellers
- Donor blood is unfit for use after 30 days, contributing to a severe strain on many health services
Besides the risk of infection, many expats are unaware of the huge costs charged in many countries for top class health care.
The firm explained that looking after a mother giving birth in Hong Kong costs £6,000 – and even more if complications develop.
Director Andrew Apps said: “Expats should not overlook sorting out comprehensive health cover before they leave the UK.
“Many fail to realise the costs of decent medical care in some countries, yet the chance of falling ill or having an accident is ever present.”
He also pointed out that many countries are charging expats a premium for health services because many UK patients travel to places like Russia, South Africa and India as medical tourists.
“Blood screening is one issue that should concern every expat,” said Apps. “Few countries screen blood to ensure the donor was not carrying an infection or disease.
“The best medical policies make sure clean blood is couriered out so patients do not come out of hospital with something worse than took them there.”
Besides standards of care, Apps also recommends expats should consider a policy that covers the costs of repatriation of the patient and their family in the event of a medical emergency and repatriating a body should the patient die.
He also explained care during pregnancy and childbirth is often not included as standard in many healthcare policies.