Expat Interview: Travelling with a Pre-Existing Condition
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
At Medibroker, our expert health insurance advisors help people with all sorts of needs find the best health cover for their time overseas. Many people with pre-existing conditions contact us after struggling to find cover for their needs by going to insurers direct, and we pride ourselves on our ability to help these customers.
Having a pre-existing condition does make finding an international health insurance plan more difficult, but with Medibroker's completely free service, your health doesn't have to hold you back from enjoying life abroad.
Here, we interviewed Jo from Frugal First Class Travel about what it's like to travel with a chronic illness and how she makes sure it never slows her down.
What made you start travelling?
Coming from Australia, being a traveller is almost in my DNA. It's something we Australians "just do". I fell in love with Europe on my very first trip there in my early 20s and it's an ongoing and ever growing love affair. I love the culture, architecture and landscapes I experience when I'm travelling. The thrill of discovering a new destination, and the joy of visiting old favorites is what keeps me travelling.
As a medical practitioner, do you have any words of advice for fellow travellers and expats about international health insurance?
My key advice is to ensure you are adequately insured. You need to include the cost of adequate insurance in any travel budget. It is false economy to go without insurance, and an even bigger waste of money to be under-insured. If you can't afford your insurance, you can't afford to take that trip.
Being adequately insured means choosing a product that is suitable for your destination - there is no point buying a budget product if you are travelling to Europe or North America as an Australian. You need a product that provides you with a level of cover consistent with the cost of health care in those jurisdictions.
I think it is also important to understand what activities your product will cover you for. For most of us a standard product is fine but if you are an adrenaline junkie or into big adventures, just make sure that base jumping off the Empire State Building or swimming with sharks is covered!
If you are going to be staying in a country for any length of time, I think it's also worth getting a basic understanding of how healthcare works. When you are sick is not the time to have to learn to navigate a new system.
Travelling with a Chronic Illness (AKA a Pre-Existing Condition)
How has travelling with a health condition affected your experience of being abroad?
For me it means being well prepared before I leave home. I try to optimise my health before I head off. I do really basic things like getting a letter from my doctor outlining my condition and my medications. If I'm sick and need to seek medical assistance I don't want to have to worry about my medications and the doses. Because my condition is prone to relapses I also make sure I carry a supply of the medications I need to manage the relapse. I get side effects from the relapse treatment, so I also carry a supply of medications to manage that. Then I know that I can enjoy my trip and if I do happen to get sick, I know I've got everything I need to minimise any disruption to my plans.
My illness affects my gut, so from a practical point of view, I try extra hard to avoid any sort of food related illness. I'm obsessive about hand hygiene and where and what I eat. Everyone should do that anyway - getting food poisoning isn't fun for anyone!
How does having a pre-existing condition affect your international health insurance?
Fortunately I've never had any trouble with my international health insurance. The key thing is not to hide any information from your insurer about your personal details. That means being honest about your age, and in the answers to any questions about your health. You don't need to risk voiding your policy by trying to "outsmart" your insurer.
I've been very fortunate in that I've never needed to access my health insurance while travelling. I understand my body, I understand my illness and I am well equipped to deal with my illness when I am travelling. While to me it's essential to travel with insurance, my view is that I should do everything in my power to avoid needing to use it. That's why I travel with all the medications I need to manage any eventuality.
If I do get sick, I slow down a bit and rest. I'm aggressive in escalating the treatment of any relapse to make sure things don't get out of control.
Looking for Overseas Health Cover for your Pre-Existing Condition?
Finding an appropriate health plan for your life abroad can be a real issue if you have a pre-existing condition, as many insurers may refuse to provide cover. Save time and worry by using our free service and let our health insurance advisors assess a range of over 30 providers to find a plan that will protect you.
Medibroker can search the market to find an international health insurance plan that can cover your pre-existing conditions in your destination. Fill in our short form and one of our expert team will get back to you. Our health insurance advice and comparison service is 100% free and completely impartial - we work in your best interests.