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Discovery Health adds Israel to list of countries not covered by travel insurance, joining Russia and Ukraine

Discovery Health adds Israel to list of countries not covered by travel insurance, joining Russia and Ukraine
(Photo: Flickr / Raphael de Kadt)

If you are planning to visit Israel, which is currently in conflict with Hamas, you should know that the Discovery Health Medical Aid Scheme will not cover your travel insurance.

Israel is the latest country to be added to the list of countries where the Discovery Health Medical Scheme is no longer covering medical costs for members. 

Discovery, the largest open medical scheme in South Africa, told Daily Maverick that it was a longstanding company policy to exclude conflict zones from its international travel benefit. It said the exclusion of war-torn countries and territories was based on the advice of an international travel advisory service.

“Russia and Ukraine are included in the list of countries at war with the same rules applying to members travelling to these countries. Following the recent and unfortunate declaration of war in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, they are presently included on the list of 22 countries and territories in total that are excluded from the International Travel Benefit,” Discovery said.

“The Discovery Health Medical Scheme has a general scheme exclusion for healthcare services when travelling to war-torn countries and territories, considering the complexities of care and evacuation, and other risks.

“In line with precedent and the Scheme rules, every country and territory at war is excluded and this criteria has been consistently applied by the Scheme over the years.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Israel-Palestine War

The travel policy, which was formally implemented at the end of October, will only cover clients who were already in Israel at the time the decision was made.

Meanwhile, a temporary ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas has led to the release of women and children held hostage by Hamas, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli jails.

At least 86 hostages, from about 240 people taken to the Gaza Strip after Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel, have been released, while around 180 Palestinians have been freed from Israeli jails.

Israel launched its assault on Gaza after Hamas fighters crossed the border into southern Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and seizing hostages.

Israel has since engaged in an aerial assault and ground incursion on the Hamas-ruled enclave, killing at least 14,000 Gazans, with a significant number being children, according to Palestinian health authorities. DM

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