Perched at the entrance to the Mediterranean, with a pleasant climate and overlooking the sea, Gibraltar is a popular place to visit if you’re into swimming, sailing or other water sports. However, rugby, football and hockey are also popular sports on the Rock and a number of residents belong to sporting associations, such as the Gibraltar Football Association.The territory has three marinas, with opportunities for chartering a yacht or learning to sail. Diving is also popular, with over 50 wrecks around these dangerous straits, and so is swimming, with some people taking up the challenge to swim across the Straits to Morocco.
These are potentially high-risk activities. What sort of health insurance cover is offered should you hurt yourself as a visitor to the Rock or as a resident? We look at some of the options below.
What cover is available for residents of Gibraltar?
Health insurance is organized by a contributory system called the Group Practice Medical Scheme (GPMS), and if you are registered with it, or are a British national who has been paying national insurance contributions back home, then you will be covered in cases of emergency and injury. Gibraltar has one public hospital, St Bernard’s, and you will be treated here in the event of an accident or a sports injury.
What cover is available for visitors to Gibraltar?
If you are visiting the Rock, it is strongly recommended that you take out full private cover and do not rely solely on your EHIC card, if you have one. In this case, if you do sustain an injury, you will need to contact your health insurance provider and check that treatment will be covered under the terms of your policy. If so, then your provider may be able to pay for your healthcare treatment directly, but check this with the hospital as they may ask you to pay in cash and then claim the money back from your insurance company once you return to your home nation.
Note that there are time limits in place with most insurers for compensation claims; you will not be able to retroactively claim compensation for an injury suffered many years ago, for example.
If you booked your holiday through a registered travel agent, you should be covered by existing legislation and they will be able to advise you with regard to making a claim.
Make sure that you take notes relating to your treatment: the name of the hospital, the name of the doctor, the time and place of your injury, and the nature of your injury. Be sure also to keep any medical bills that you receive: you will need to forward this information to your insurance provider in order to maximize the chances of success of your claim.
Check that your existing health insurance policy covers you for repatriation: many policies do not.
Where to seek treatment in Gibraltar
Gibraltar has one public hospital and a number of private clinics. The public hospital, St Bernard’s, will cover you for emergencies. Private clinics, such as the Specialist Medical Centre, can offer a wide range of treatments from referral to a physiotherapist to surgical intervention, depending on the nature of your injury.
The SMM says that they can bill private insurers directly, depending on whether pre-approval for treatment has been sought, and will therefore need your policy details when you seek treatment.
How much will treatment cost?
The cost of your treatment will obviously depend on the nature of your injury. Osteo La Cala, a specialist clinic which includes treatment for sports injuries, says that an initial consultation will cost €65. This covers a 60-minute consultation which includes a case history, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment advice, with €55 for a follow-up, which will include an ongoing treatment plan. Overall, however, expats describe out-of-pocket private healthcare in the territory as expensive.
How much could I claim?
Again, this depends on the nature of your injury and the time and expertise required to treat it, but for a minor to severe leg injury, you would be looking at compensation in the region of up to €247,000. A minor to severe ankle injury would be around up to €12,000 – €61,000. A minor to severe back injury is in the region of €2,150 – €141,000, and a minor head injury €2,000 to £11,000.
As so many variables have an effect on the cost of international private medical insurance for Gibraltar it becomes very difficult to give accurate estimates without knowing the full details of the coverage required. However, as a very rough guide, using a standard profile of a 40-year-old British male with no deductibles, no co-insurance, a middle-tier plan/product, all modules included and worldwide coverage excluding the US, a ballpark price of around £4,000/$5,000 might be expected. Were coverage to be expanded to include the US then the premium could increase to almost double that amount.
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