In developing countries, medical facilities and resources are limited and emergency medical services are practically nonexistent. In some poor countries, local health standards are poor, equipment and supplies are scarce and essential items, such as oxygen kits, are in short supply. Drugs may be of poor quality or past their expiry dates. Chances are you are depriving the local population of a scarce but valuable resource.
If you're injured extensively in a car accident while travelling, you will almost certainly require a blood transfusion. Having no travel insurance means treatment at the local public hospital. Blood is a scarce resource in developing countries and is not screened as carefully as it is in more developed nations. A transfusion runs the risk of contracting hepatitis, HIV or malaria. If you require intravenous re-hydration then this may be yet another source of infection.
Some countries such as Thailand have private medical facilities. These facilities are funded externally and do not impinge on the local economy or its resources; indeed, these facilities often help local communities. Having insurance enables you to access these facilities and without it you rely on personal payment. Insurance also pays for medical evacuation, if required.
When travelling and diving in developing countries please enjoy the sites, sounds and culture of that nation, but don't deprive its people of a scarce resource by imposing on what is often an under-resourced health system. Insure yourself adequately before travelling and always carry your insurance details on you. You never know when you might need it. It can be very time consuming to obtain your policy details when you should be in the operating theatre!
Using a valuable limited resource in a country that struggles to supply its own people is wrong, particularly when such a scenario can be avoided by buying appropriate medical insurance. Be responsible and use some foresight.
Not all travel insurance is appropriate for your needs. Seek advice before you leave. Define your needs and then define what each policy covers and what it does not cover. Don't forget to cover yourself for your trip cancellation. You can't expect local operators to be liable for your cancellation just because of your country's decision to issue travel advisory warnings against every Muslim country and their neighbours. Read the small print. Don't over insure - don't take out 2 policies covering the same thing - no doubt you'll be left waiting while the insurance companies squabble over who's liable for your costs.
Some insurance programmes only cover treatment at a local facility, which may not be in your best interest particularly if you are diving and travelling to several destinations.
The Divers Alert Network insurance programme provides you with broad and comprehensive coverage. There are several packages available depending on your needs that can include general travel insurance too. The programmes are available worldwide and provide extensive medical protection from ear injuries and decompression illness to motorbike or taxi accidents. The program covers all in-water injuries incurred while diving or snorkelling and any diver can apply.
With World Nomads you can get low cost holiday insurance that covers you for both your diving and travel needs.