Many countries around the world have begun to implement changes to prevent foreign tourists from taking advantage of their health care systems. Specifically, when an uninsured foreign tourist gets into a car accident or becomes severely ill while traveling, their visit to a local doctor’s office or hospital uses resources paid for by the taxpayers in that country.
Why Some Countries Want Mandatory Travel Insurance for Foreign Visitors?
In some cases, foreign visitors leave a country they have visited without paying their medical bills. In the more serious cases, foreign visitors have traveled to countries where healthcare is free in order to take advantage of treatment they cannot receive in their own country.
In some countries where the hospitals are required to provide free medical services, the financial burden has become too much and there is growing concern about the policy of providing free medical care when foreign visitors are not paying their share. The issue has come to the attention of many taxpayers who do not want the burden of paying taxes to be exploited by foreign visitors.
Where is Travel Insurance Compulsory for Foreign Visitors Now?
Some countries have established policies for foreign visitors and require tourists to purchase travel health insurance prior to entry into the country or buy it when they arrive without it. If a foreigner lands in certain countries without adequate travel health insurance, they can purchase it upon entry or return immediately to their own country. These countries include:
- Travel Insurance for Schengen Visa Countries
- Travel Insurance for Cuba
- Travel Insurance for Dubai
- Travel Insurance for Russia
The government of Thailand started discussions to address concerns about the financial burden on the country’s state hospitals, which are required to provide foreigners with free medical services. To date, Thailand has not settled on a decision or mandate.
Where is Travel Insurance Recommended before Leaving your Home Country?
The government of Malaysia has begun the process of requiring mandatory travel insurance for Malaysian citizens traveling outside of Malaysia. Carrying adequate travel health insurance PRIOR to leaving their home country is a government requirement for many Malaysians. The Malaysian government recognizes that requiring visitors insurance for its citizens means their citizens are safer when they travel abroad.
3 Reasons Foreign Tourists Will Benefit from Travel Insurance
When you travel, you deal with much more uncertainty and the insurance you have already will not protect you on your trip.
While the countries who are making travel insurance mandatory have a point, and travel health insurance will pay for a traveler’s emergency medical care up to the limits of the policy, foreign tourists should recognize that having travel insurance means having access to additional benefits that could very well save your life:
- Not every travel emergency can be handled by your embassy, especially if it has limited staff or has been closed due to a civil uprising. Travel emergency assistance services with your travel insurance plan can provide the necessary support, including finding a way for you to evacuate the country if necessary.
- Not every medical emergency can be adequately treated in a country where you are traveling. If you need medical care that the host country cannot provide, your travel insurance provider will pay to evacuate you to the nearest hospital that can treat you.
- No other type of insurance provides repatriation, or the return of a traveler’s body to their home country. If you, or someone you care about, dies while in a foreign country, it can cost many thousands of dollars and weeks of negotiations to get the body home without travel insurance.
While the number of countries that require travel insurance is limited, it is the start of a growing trend. Countries that want tourist dollars have to weigh the advantages of imposing travel insurance requirements against the potential of losing travelers due to the increased expenses. Right now, most countries would rather have the tourist dollars but if enough countries see that making travel insurance mandatory does not change their tourism numbers much, the shift toward mandatory travel health insurance could speed up.
Whether or not the country you are traveling to requires visitors insurance, it is always a good idea to buy travel medical insurance when traveling abroad. Learn more about visitors insurance plans for traveling abroad.