Having the right international healthcare is sometimes associated with emergency situations, such as evacuation from the middle of a jungle, life threatening cases of malaria or major heart surgery on the other side of the world. In fact the majority of health claims reflect the general day-to-day health problems people suffer from in their everyday lives, although being abroad can exacerbate certain conditions.
MediCare International looked at the top types of claims from the past two years, to find out which conditions were more prevalent than others. The results not only reflect the most common complaints, but that being in a new and different environment can also have an impact health.
The most common ailment is back problems. Back pain is extremely common – about four in five people are affected at some point in their lifetime. Anyone can get back pain, but it is most common in people between the ages of 35 and 55. Carrying heavy cases, travelling on long haul flights, or sleeping in a different bed, can all bring on this type of pain.
The second most common ailment claimed for is respiratory infections. This includes influenza, which can be brought on by being in new surroundings and picking up viruses, which the individual has little or no resistance to. Air travel can be the perfect breeding ground for respiratory infection together with higher levels of pollution on congested streets, all of which makes for poor air quality.
Number three on the list, is gastro/abdominal problems. Unfamiliar germs and bacteria can play havoc with a digestive system. More serious problems such as dysentery are still commonplace for visitors to India if precautions are not taken. Even then, it is almost impossible to safeguard oneself from these types of illnesses.
Fourth on the list is cancer. The types of cancer costs covered by some but not all international health insurance would typically be diagnosis, drugs and treatment costs.
Asthma and Bronchitis are fifth on the list. As with respiratory problems, both conditions are exacerbated by poor quality air, new environments, or simply failing to treat existing health problems. Hypertension is the sixth most common ailment. Knee problems are next on the list. These can be caused by sports injuries, being overweight, and also a symptom of arthritis. Medical costs include pain relief and physiotherapy to improve the condition. Eczema and skin conditions are also commonplace for those seeking medical treatment abroad. Often new environments, stress or exposure to new substances can aggravate eczema, and the physical effects of the sun can lead to extreme sunburn for some people, if skin is not properly protected. Finally, urinary tract infections are also common when abroad. The problem can be exacerbated by hot weather or sometimes sexually transmitted diseases. Both men and women can be affected by these complaints and will need to seek help from the local doctor to clear up any infection.
David Pryor of MediCare International says, “People often associate private healthcare with medical emergencies. The truth is, the most common conditions reflect everyday living difficulties that can be exacerbated while abroad, and others are conditions that are often brought about from the effects of travel and simply being in new environments. What is striking is the proportion of these complaints which have a chronic aspect to them – back pain, cancer, respiratory problems, skin complaints – all of these can require ongoing treatment, something MediCare International covers as part of our chronic care benefit. We pride ourselves in providing the best possible care for our policyholders, whether it’s a new, curable condition or something which requires longer term treatment.”