According to new data from travel insurance comparison site Compare travel insurance, a whopping 82 per cent of Australians are unsure whether they are covered by Medicare when on a cruise in domestic waters.
Natalie Ball, Director of Compare travel insurance, expressed her disbelief at the findings and reiterated that Medicare coverage stops once travellers set sail: “It’s astounding to see how many Aussies are under the misconception that Medicare covers you while cruising domestically. In fact, Medicare coverage is restricted to around 20 km from Australian ports, which means that once you’re out on the water; you’re on your own in terms of healthcare. Travel insurance is essential for a cruise holiday whether you are overseas or in Australian waters.”
The survey also found that more than one-third of cruise goers believe that travel insurance is less important for cruises than for other overseas holidays because doctors are on board. This is not the case, however, said Ball: “There is a widespread belief that cruise holidays are safer and less exposed to risk ─ this couldn’t be further from the truth. You are just as likely to fall ill, get injured or run into delays while cruising as you are when travelling overseas.” She added that cruisers shouldn’t rely solely on medical facilities on board as having doctors on call doesn’t undermine the need for travel insurance.
Ball went on to say that medical costs on board a cruise ship tend to be far greater than many travellers expect, with infirmary bills as much as US$5,000 a day and a ship evacuation costing between $10,000-$20,000 in Australian waters and up to $50,000 in international waters.
“Not only should you ensure your health is covered at sea, you can’t overlook the expense of an emergency evacuation,” notes Ball. “If you consider the astronomical risks, travel insurance is a no-brainer.” We at ITIJ tend to agree ─ it’s better to be safe than sorry and travel insurance gives peace of mind that should the unexpected occur there is a safety net.