I will be on HER Radio this Thursday 2/27 at 2:20pm ET (12:20pm AZ Time) discussing what to do if you get sick while traveling. I'll give you a back story of my story and why I think this is so important.
My better half, Wayne, and I were on a three week vacation at the Hyatt Ziva, San Jose Cabo San Lucas in January. Wayne has a disease called PSC (primary sclerosing cholangitist). It is a rare liver disease caused by ulcerative colitis 35 years ago. It is progressively getting worse but we were not educated enough and never thought that he could have portal hypertension thus causing an esophageal bleed while in Cabo the first week of our arrival.
Wayne became fatigued, lethargic and very anemic which we found out through blood tests at the doctor’s office at the hotel. They were shocked at his anemia (loss of about 2 1/2 to 3 pints of blood) and low white blood count as well as his elevated liver enzymes.
They wanted to hospitalize him doing an upper GI test and colonoscopy, ekg’s, ultra sounds, lung x-rays, etc. and we got very nervous about it. Wayne asked the doctor what he would do if it were him. The answer was “we would treat you like family and do the utmost to help you, but if I were in your shoes, I would go home asap, and be where you are comfortable, in your own doctor’s hands, and have the tests there…after all you are in a foreign country...procedures, hospitalization, insurance all become a factor”.
So we had to quickly get on the phone, not tell the airline that we had a medical emergency, because they would not have allowed us to fly, and had to wait until the next day because of no flights connecting through Phoenix to Flagstaff where Wayne’s Gastroenterologist is located.
It cost us over $800 to change our reservation with the airlines almost twice as much as it would have been to buy a medical transport insurance plan for the entire year! And we had to wait a day to leave San Jose Cabo and spend 10 hours at airports. It doesn’t make sense to do that……in addition to all the stress and angst about getting a sick person back via commercial air.
We finally got out the next day and it was a 10 hour ordeal to get back home. We had called the doctor and they were all set up to do the Upper GI procedure the following morning at 8:30am. He had his esophageal varices banded and has since had the procedure done again and will have to undergo another procedure in three weeks.
The bottom line is that a friend told us the next day that we should buy Medical Insurance for any trip no matter if it is in the US or globally to foreign countries. We never think this could happen to us, but it does and more often than one thinks. You can buy medical travel insurance for yourself, your significant other as well as getting family members home through companies such as Sky Med or Med Jet. You can buy the insurance per day for a single trip or yearly, or five year plan for such reasonable amounts that you cannot afford to not have it. They will send you straight home in a private jet, helicopter you off an island, get you medical assistance immediately, etc. for a nominal fee. This is the best program I have ever seen and I would never leave home without it. The peace of mind it would give you is “priceless”.