Will backpackers be covered for COVID-19 treatment?

WITH the recommendation that all Australians overseas should return home as soon as possible on commercial flights, the question remains about our tourists here.

Byron Bay has been well known for its high-level of backpacking and tourist numbers, and as the pandemic stretches across the globe, travel insurance companies are facing increased demand.

For backpackers in Australia, who may or may not have travel insurance, it is reasonable to assume some of them may need medical care during the pandemic.

A NSW Health spokesperson said clinicians at NSW public hospitals had a professional and ethical obligation to treat all patients according to need, regardless of health cover or Medicare eligibility.

"Most people that are not eligible for Medicare will have health or travel insurance," they said.

"NSW Health launched a media campaign last year urging overseas visitors to NSW to take out health insurance.

"For those that do not have adequate insurance coverage, NSW Health will look to waive costs to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.

"This includes the waiving of payment and debt recovery procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment."

An NRMA Insurance spokesperson said Australian travellers were encouraged to contact them about their policies should they have any concerns.

"Our NRMA Insurance travel policies will cover any overseas medical expenses incurred for COVID-19 regardless of when you purchased the policy for countries that have not been issued with an Australian 'Do Not Travel' alert.

"There are exclusions which may impact cover relating to the amendment or cancellation of travel plans and additional expenses as a result of any epidemic or pandemic such as COVID-19.

"For example, cover will be excluded for cancellation costs in the event your tour gets cancelled due to COVID-19."

On the NRMA website it is highlighted that other than medical costs, if tours or holiday plans get cancelled because of a pandemic, those are not covered under the insurance policy.



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