5 Key Benefits of Medical Repatriation for International Patients

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Medical repatriation is an invaluable service when you’re sick or injured abroad. This involves flying you back home on an air ambulance plane equipped with Intensive Care Unit-style equipment.

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This process differs from medical evacuation, which transports you to the nearest healthcare facility. Here are five key benefits of medical repatriation for international patients:

Access to the Best Care

With medical repatriation, patients can receive top-quality care from doctors they know and trust. This allows them to avoid substantial healthcare debt from out-of-network treatment and ensure they receive the best treatment.

Repatriation services use planes that are configured explicitly for medical travel. This helps minimize turbulence and provides a smoother ride for critically ill patients. They also typically fly at higher altitudes, which can reduce the chance of a medical emergency during the flight.

Whether traveling for work or pleasure, being injured or sick abroad can be terrifying. Not only are you far from home, but language barriers, cultural differences, and unfamiliar surroundings may make it challenging to feel safe. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and loneliness.

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Avoid Healthcare Debt

Many work visa expats who get sick or injured abroad require repatriation services. This involves transporting the patient to their country of origin via commercial airline flights accompanied by medical professionals. It can be a more cost-effective solution than a medical evacuation, typically reserved for emergencies in locations that lack the proper healthcare capabilities and are prone to natural disasters, war, or civil unrest.

While hospitals are legally required to treat all patients, regardless of their immigration status, this obligation ends once they have stabilized and a discharge plan has been created. Some nurses have called into question this practice, arguing that forcing repatriation is unethical and undermines the key value of healthcare: caring for people. It can also lead to significant financial debt for the patient if their health insurance provider doesn’t cover treatment in the home country.

Family Support

Many expats travel to remote locations worldwide, where access to good medical care is only sometimes available. If an employee is ill or injured while on assignment, medical repatriation services can help them get home.

Repatriation flights are typically medically equipped, maybe a helicopter or a regularly scheduled airliner. They are staffed by qualified medical personnel who can provide immediate treatment on board.

In addition to air transport, a medical repatriation service will coordinate ground transportation at the departure and destination points. This ensures that the patient gets the best care possible. In addition, the repatriation team will help family members plan for travel and accommodation. This can be a huge relief for families dealing with the stress of a medical crisis while abroad.

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Reliability

For patients who are ill or injured while traveling abroad, medical repatriation services help bring them back to their home country. This means access to specialized care and familiar healthcare systems that can enhance the chances for positive outcomes.

The process of arranging repatriation is complex and involves numerous variables. The patient must first be assessed and a plan established. This includes determining what type of transport will be necessary to get them back home. This is typically an air ambulance but can also be a stretcher on a commercial flight.

For example, if someone became COVID-19 positive while traveling overseas and needed to travel long distances for treatment, their insurance provider would likely leverage an air ambulance service that uses aircraft configured explicitly for medical transportation. This can reduce the risk of turbulence and other hazards during the trip.

Cost

If a patient becomes severely injured or ill on a trip abroad, medical repatriation services help get them back home for treatment and rehabilitation. This service helps avoid medical debt and allows families to access in-network care from trusted doctors.

Repatriation can be provided by a medical air ambulance, commercial airline, or even a private plane, depending on the patient’s needs. For example, an air ambulance flight may be required if a patient requires a stretcher or respiratory assistance.

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Repatriation also helps prevent travel insurance fraud, which occurs when people buy travel insurance for a trip and then claim that they cannot fly due to an injury or illness. Travel insurance companies often recommend medical repatriation for this reason.