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Expat Investor : May June 2008
14 EXPAT INVESTOR ? May/June 2008 Everyday illnesses such as flu and colds can play havoc with anyone’s lifestyle, but can also have more serious implications for the expatriate living and working overseas. Less well known, but just as disruptive is a group of viruses, called ‘Noroviruses’ or ‘winter- vomiting viruses’, which hit the UK last winter and caused huge numbers of people to suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea. MediCare International explains that this annual pest is the most common cause of stomach bugs in the UK, affecting all ages and although not generally dangerous, causes projectile HEALTHCARE Fast Facts 55009 Medicare’s precautions for expats vomiting, watery diarrhoea along with a fever, headaches and aching limbs. Most people make a full recovery within one to two days, but it can cause more serious problems for the very old and very young who risk becoming dehydrated and may require hospital treatment. Obviously, this nasty group of viruses is not restricted to the UK – indeed, stomach bugs and problems caused by eating the wrong food or drinking untreated water are common problems in some parts of the world and it is these type of ‘everyday’ illnesses that can cause problems for the unwary expatriate. With more and more people moving to work in areas where hygiene is suspect – perhaps in overseas call centres or on IT placements – it is vital to make sure that you are covered with international health insurance. David Pryor, Senior Executive, comments, “Healthcare problems, such as everyday stomach upsets, that are not normally an issue in the UK, can pose real health problems in other areas of the world with lower hygiene standards. “Regular trips to the doctor to settle bouts of food poisoning can soon mount up, but it is precisely these sort of costs which are covered by MediCare’s international healthcare policies. “It is worrying to note that even today there are still around 50% of UK expatriates around the world without international healthcare insurance. “These people are taking a real gamble with their health and that of their family too. It’s so easy to get cover in this day and age. And MediCare International is able to provide health cover for expatriates of all ages, including those over 65 and all occupations, including those expatriates who work in hot spots.” When considering international health policies, most people focus on the need for hospital treatment and emergency evacuations whilst ignoring the everyday costs for routine illnesses. For a premium of around £100 per month, MediCare clients will find GP visits, specialist consultant fees, medication, X-rays and even complementary therapies covered, with their first outpatient claim free of any excess on all policies except their basic option. Mr Pryor is familiar with the costs of regular GP visits, commenting, “It is amazing how fast the cost of everyday drugs to treat minor problems such as stomach upsets and infections mounts up. “A fever, for example, may require samples to be tested in a pathology laboratory to identify the precise nature of the cause. Equally, respiratory problems will usually need an X- ray, in addition to a wide range of antibiotics.” MediCare International estimates that the typical cost of an annual premium for those working in more exotic parts of the world can quickly be recouped. A simple stomach upset, if not properly managed, can evolve into a more complicated condition that may require specific and immediate treatment. Such treatment may involve the use of specimen culturing, barium meals, internal examinations using endoscopes and, of course, a range of drugs. In India, for example, home of low cost call centres, where costs are generally not that high, a course of investigation and treatment could easily cost from £150 to £200, depending upon the severity of the illness, which could quickly become a recurring cost in areas of poor sanitation. It certainly pays to follow good hygiene rules and watch what you eat wherever possible. expatinvestor.com
July August 2008