hospital bed

Think that travel insurance isn’t worth it? Think again

Information verified correct on June 25th, 2016

How much does a hospital bed cost in the 20 most popular destinations for Australian travellers – and how good is the healthcare when you get there?

Travel insurance is often an afterthought. An additional expense. An annoyance. But when the proverbial hits the fan, it can be a real money saver. Just how much would it cost you if you had to pay for a hospital bed while overseas? And how good would the treatment you get actually be?

How we worked this out

We analysed 10,000 anonymised travel insurance quotes submitted to finder.com.au to identify the most popular destinations for our users. Then for each of those countries, we identified hospital costs, based on WHO Department of Health Systems Financing (2011) estimates (these are the most recent published figures). Those figures are likely to be on the low side, since they only represent the "hotel" component of hospital costs, which means drugs and diagnostic tests will need to be paid for as well.

The WHO figures are in international dollars (I$), which is a hypothetical unit of currency with the same purchasing power parity as the US dollar. We converted this to the value of the Australian dollar during the same period.

Finally, we used our travel insurance quote comparison tool to calculate the cost of a policy for a two-week journey to each destination for a 35-year-old traveller. Each destination produced over 40 quotes. We took the average cost of all the policies, basic through comprehensive.

The Top 20: Hospital bed costs and travel insurance costs

DestinationCost of a hospital bedCost of travel insuranceDifference
United States of America$751.06$102.57$648.49
Indonesia$39.64$68.55-$28.91
United Kingdom$564.34$79.42$484.92
Thailand$91.89$72.89$19.00
New Zealand$390.95$57.84$333.11
Canada$603.99$99.64$504.35
Italy$482.87$82.09$400.78
Vietnam$25.66$72.89-$47.23
Singapore$893.34$72.89$820.45
France$517.35$82.09$435.26
Japan$507.49$79.06$428.43
Fiji$47.15$59.34-$12.19
China$66.00$74.76-$8.76
Germany$561.44$82.09$479.35
Spain$486.55$82.09$404.46
Malaysia$179.81$72.44$107.37
Philippines$34.01$72.89-$38.88
India$27.30$73.83-$46.53
*Hong Kong$721.53$74.76$646.77
Netherlands$671.13$82.99$588.14

*Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China was not included in the WHO Department of Health Systems Financing (2011) estimates. Cost for hospital bed was sourced from The Hospital Authority (HA) https://www.ha.org.hk/haho/ho/cs/v3/serviceguide_feenchg-en.htm 

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Which country has the worst healthcare rating?

Money isn't everything, especially when it comes to your health. Even with travel insurance, you don't want to get stuck in a country with a poor healthcare system. So we extended our analysis of the 20 most popular destinations to assess the quality of the medical system, based on four key measures:

  • International SOS ranking. The International SOS ranking gives a medical rating to a country based on numerous factors including: access to prescription medication, administrative, cultural and language barriers, the presence of infectious disease, and the standard of medical and dental care. These factors are ranked on a scale:
    • Large rapidly developing countries. Refers to developing nations with disparate levels of healthcare: well-developed in major cities but almost non-existent in rural areas.
    • Low risk. International standard of care throughout the nation, with high standards of emergency care and low risk of infectious disease.
    • Medium risk. Varying (high to low) levels of standard international heath care available. Reasonable emergency services and minor risk of water-borne diseases.
    • High risk. Nations with limited medical services. Basic emergency and dental care. Serious risk of infectious diseases (e.g. dengue fever or typhoid). Limited access to prescription medication.
    • Extreme risk. Healthcare systems that are either overtaxed or virtually non-existent. Limited to no emergency services, with the risk there is no access to prescription medications. High degree of risk for contracting an infectious disease.
  • WHO World Health Report ranking. The most recent World Health Report Health systems: improving performance (2000) assessed the performance of national health systems.
  • ABS departure figures. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) release monthly figures for short-haul overseas departures of Australian residents.
  • Travel advisory. A governmental warning provided by smartraveller.gov.au, which provides safety advice for Australians venturing overseas.

How do the countries stack up?

United States of America

Cost of a hospital bed$751.06
Cost of travel insurance$102.57
Difference$648.49
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking37
Australian travellers past year (ABS)1,056,900
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Guide to travel insurance for the USA

Indonesia

Cost of a hospital bed$39.64
Cost of travel insurance$68.55
Difference-$28.91
International SOS rankingLarge Rapidly Developing Countries
WHO World Health Report ranking92
Australian travellers past year (ABS)1,207,600
Travel advisoryExercise a high degree of caution

Find out more about getting travel insurance for Indonesia

United Kingdom

Cost of a hospital bed$564.34
Cost of travel insurance$79.42
Difference$484.92
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking18
Australian travellers past year (ABS)595,900
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Benefits of travel insurance for the UK

Thailand

Cost of a hospital bed$91.89
Cost of travel insurance$72.89
Difference$19.00
International SOS rankingMedium Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking47
Australian travellers past year (ABS)600,400
Travel advisoryExercise a high degree of caution

What you need to know about getting travel insurance for Thailand

New Zealand

Cost of a hospital bed$390.95
Cost of travel insurance$57.84
Difference$333.11
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking41
Australian travellers past year (ABS)1,324,400
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

A guide to New Zealand travel insurance

Canada

Cost of a hospital bed$603.99
Cost of travel insurance$99.64
Difference$504.35
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking30
Australian travellers past year (ABS)132100
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Getting travel insurance for Canada

Italy

Cost of a hospital bed$482.87
Cost of travel insurance$82.09
Difference$400.78
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking2
Australian travellers past year (ABS)196,300
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Vietnam

Cost of a hospital bed$25.66
Cost of travel insurance$72.89
Difference-$47.23
International SOS rankingLarge Rapidly Developing Countries
WHO World Health Report ranking160
Australian travellers past year (ABS)252,800
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

How to find the right travel insurance for Vietnam

Singapore

Cost of a hospital bed$893.34
Cost of travel insurance$72.89
Difference$820.45
International SOS rankingMedium Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking6
Australian travellers past year (ABS)394,400
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Guide to travel insurance for Singapore

France

Cost of a hospital bed$517.35
Cost of travel insurance$82.09
Difference$435.26
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking1
Australian travellers past year (ABS)163,800
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Learn more about travel insurance for France

Japan

Cost of a hospital bed$507.49
Cost of travel insurance$79.06
Difference$428.43
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking10
Australian travellers past year (ABS)285,300
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Need travel insurance for Japan? A guide to getting cover

Fiji

Cost of a hospital bed$47.15
Cost of travel insurance$59.34
Difference-$12.19
International SOS rankingMedium Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking96
Australian travellers past year (ABS)363,400
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Finding the right travel insurance for Fiji

China

Cost of a hospital bed$66.00
Cost of travel insurance$74.76
Difference-$8.76
International SOS rankingLarge Rapidly Developing Countries
WHO World Health Report ranking144
Australian travellers past year (ABS)441,000
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Get the right travel insurance for China holiday

Germany

Cost of a hospital bed$561.44
Cost of travel insurance$82.09
Difference$479.35
International SOS RankingLow Risk
WHO ranked health systems25
Australian Travellers Past Year (ABS)105700
Travel AdvisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Spain

Cost of a hospital bed$486.55
Cost of travel insurance$82.09
Difference$404.46
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking7
Australian travellers past year (ABS)66,800
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Malaysia

Cost of a hospital bed$179.81
Cost of travel insurance$72.44
Difference$107.37
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking49
Australian travellers past year (ABS)296,500
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

A guide to travel insurance for Malaysia

Philippines

Cost of a hospital bed$34.01
Cost of travel insurance$72.89
Difference-$38.88
International SOS rankingLarge Rapidly Developing Countries
WHO World Health Report ranking60
Australian travellers past year (ABS)222,000
Travel advisoryExercise a high degree of caution

India

Cost of a hospital bed$27.30
Cost of travel insurance$73.83
Difference-$46.53
International SOS rankingLarge Rapidly Developing Countries
WHO World Health Report ranking112
Australian travellers past year (ABS)299,400
Travel advisoryExercise a high degree of caution

Find the right travel insurance for India

*Hong Kong

Cost of a hospital bed$721.53
Cost of travel insurance$74.76
Difference$646.77
International SOS rankingLarge Rapidly Developing Countries
WHO World Health Report rankingNot ranked
Australian travellers past year (ABS)237,000
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

Hong Kong travel insurance guide

Netherlands

Cost of a hospital bed$671.13
Cost of travel insurance$82.99
Difference$588.14
International SOS rankingLow Risk
WHO World Health Report ranking17
Australian travellers past year (ABS)37,700
Travel advisoryExercise normal safety precautions

A full listing of countries to come.

More about international travel insurance

Picture: StudioTempura, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)

Richard Laycock

Richard is an insurance content producer and publisher for finder.com.au. While Richard is unable to provide personalised advice, his research background allows him to get to the core of an idea and explain it in layman's terms. Richard is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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