I should be at the Families in Global Transition Conference which is starting today, but I’m not. The reason I’m not there is because I picked up the phone to speak to my medical insurance company after reading about recent incidents with Canadians who’d traveled to the US and ended up with huge medical bills as a result of not understanding their policies.
Now I’m the first to admit that insurance policies are right at the bottom of my reading list. But the helpful woman at the other end of the phone explained that because I’m currently undergoing tests, my coverage won’t extend to some potentially very expensive medical emergencies. So even though my doctor assures me I’m well enough to travel and in all likelihood I’m healthy as a horse, I could be putting my family’s financial future on the line. So very reluctantly I cancelled at the last minute. My apologies to my many friends and colleagues who are shouldering my responsibilities in my absence.
To say I’m frustrated and disappointed is the world’s biggest understatement, but I’m not writing this for your sympathy. I want to alert you to this ‘loophole,’ which I’m told is a common, even on policies like mine which advertise that they cover you for pre-existing conditions. I shiver to think about past incidences where I may have traveled unwittingly without coverage.
Rachel Yates at Defining Moves just posted a few days ago with a useful checklist about healthcare for expats, and I’d like to add my tip about checking with your insurer if you have seen a doctor anytime in a 3 month window before you travel.
I’m well aware that this is a privileged expat whinge. Millions of people don’t have healthcare insurance even in North America, and millions more all over the world don’t have access to healthcare treatment at all. Despondent though I am at missing this annual get-together with bright international minds, I am thanking my lucky stars for who I am and where I am right now.