D McKee, M McKee
Journal Issue: 
Volume 48: Issue 2: 2018




Brexit will have profound implications for British tourists visiting the rest of the European Union, in particular because of the likely loss of coverage of healthcare should they be injured or fall ill. This paper compares the cost of travel insurance within the EU and in comparable countries outside it, asking how it varies by age and pre-existing conditions.

Fictitious patients, differing by age, pre-existing condition, and destination (France, an EU Member State; Israel and Canada, two high income non-EU frequent destinations) were entered into an insurance price comparison website to assess the influence of these characteristics on prices quoted.

Cost of travel insurance increases with age, pre-existing health conditions and by destination. In those with no pre-existing conditions, there is a marked difference between France, where the cost rises steadily with age, and Israel and Canada, where there is a sharp increase after age 75. For individuals with any one pre-existing condition, there is no similar jump in cost but rather a progressive increase with age, although the rate of increase accelerates as the individuals concerned get older. For all travellers, the cost of insurance is highest for Canada and lowest for France

At present, pre-existing health conditions in British tourists travelling in the rest of the EU are covered by the European Health Insurance Card. With the UK’s probable exit from the EU and almost certain loss of this coverage, travellers in the older age groups may have to pay much more for their travel insurance, with some possibly tempted to forgo travel insurance coverage because of the cost.

It is essential that health professionals understand how leaving the EU may impact on those seeking their advice.