Save money, Buy before 1st June

Family (1)With our annual premium review approaching, now is the time to save money by arranging for your new international medical insurance with ALC Health to start before our rates increase on 1st June.

Choose from our range of flexible plans, each offering a range of comprehensive value-added benefits designed to give you more of what you want and less of what you don’t.

get your free quote here or contact ALC Health’s private client team at sales@alchealth.com or call us on +44 (0)1903 817970

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Vote for ALC Health at the Health Insurance Awards

vote-buttonVoting for this year’s Health Insurance Provider Awards is now open … and we’d really like your vote

We’ve been working really hard over the past 12 months to make sure that ALC Health continues to be your preferred international medical insurance provider and so now is your chance to show whether we have done a good job by nominating us in this year’s Health Insurance Provider Awards.

Simply click on the Vote for ALC Health herered button and follow the voting instructions to cast your vote for ALC Health in the Best individual international PMI Provider and Best group international PMI Provider categories and make 2014 our year !

Thank you, your vote means a lot to us

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Pollution compensation for expat workers

shutterstock_72778033Japanese electronics giant Panasonic has announced plans to pay expat workers in China a wage premium to compensate for dangerous air pollution. Thought to be a global first, Panasonic describes the payment as a “premium for expatriates to compensate for a difficult and sometimes harsh living environment.” writes expathealth.org

The air quality in many Chinese cities is routinely found to be at hazardous levels, something Panasonic, which operates several factories in the country, is taking into account for its expat workers. Chinese government statistics agree that air quality standards are well below internationally accepted levels in all but three of 74 major cities.

Panasonic declined to say how much the premium would be, or how many workers may be entitled to it. The move is part of wider deals reached in Japan’s annual labour talks, reported the Guardian.

Health risks

The air pollution in many Chinese cities regularly exceeds the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, particularly with regards to PM2.5 – small particles, or particulate matter, which can penetrate the lungs and are thought to cause thousands of premature deaths every year.

Levels of PM 2.5 regularly reach 400 micrograms per cubic metre in Beijing, much more than the WHO safe guideline of 25 micrograms. High levels of particulate matter have been linked to lung cancer, heart problems, and complications in pregnancy. As individuals are largely unable to control outdoor air pollution it is up to local and regional governments to implement changes to improve air quality.

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Smoking bans cut asthma and premature births

imagesCAFPGMRHSmoking bans cut asthma and premature births by 10%, study says according to the BBC.

Laws banning smoking in public places have had a positive impact on child health, an international study in the Lancet suggests.

Researchers found a 10% reduction in premature births and severe childhood asthma attacks within a year of smoke-free laws being introduced.

A research team analysed 11 previous studies from North America and Europe.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said smoking bans benefitted adults and children. Read More >

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We’re at the 8th Asia Health Insurance Conference

18th-19th June 2014, Singapore

This year’s Asia Health Insurance Conference is being held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore and will see ALC Health Director, Andrew Apps taking on the role of Conference Chairman as well as making a key note presentation on “providing innovative high-end insurance products to the region”.

As Asia’s comprehensive Health Insurance Strategy Conference, the event brings together senior executives from private insurance, government, providers and industry experts to discuss business potential in this important market.
If you are attending the conference, and would like to set up a meeting with Andrew, do let us know and we’ll arrange a time and place .

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Stress Reducing Travel Destinations, our top six suggestions

Beach Scene (1)Some trips are designed for exploration. Others, for trying new things. And then there are the vacations where the main goal is to get a little rest and relaxation—and there’s nothing wrong with that.

So what are some of the best destinations for a stress-free trip?

Tuscany What’s more relaxing than kicking back in a villa in the countryside of Tuscany? Although you won’t have others catering to your every need, this is the perfect option if you’re looking to reduce stress and explore the beautiful nearby towns on your own time. Enjoy the stunning rustic landscapes, a glass of delicious wine (it is Italy, after all!), and a break from whatever has you stressed.

Cambodia Visit the most remote parts of Cambodia and stay in an overwater bungalow along a peaceful river or a small island off the southern coast of the country. Enjoy an all-inclusive resort experience at Song Saa Private Island, take a swim in your own private pool, or stroll through one of the many gardens on the property. Or, stay at 4 Rivers Floating Lodge where you can relax, visit nearby villages, or take a tour of the jungle.

Vietnam Known as one of the safest and most beautiful destinations in the world, Vietnam is a great spot for either hiking through local forests or chilling on the beach. Take a boat tour of the ancient ruins at Hoi An, or spend a few days at a beachside resort on the island of Phu Quoc. It also doesn’t hurt that they have a gorgeous spa.

Belize The perfect destination for beach bums, Belize offers tons of aquatic trips and activities from which to choose. Visit one of the many cayes nearby, go snorkeling, or tan on the white sandy beaches in Queen Cays. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, check out the ancient Mayan ruins.

Western Australia You won’t find any tourist traps on Rottnest Island. In fact, you probably won’t find any cars either. Instead, locals or visitors get around via bicycle or spend their days peacefully on one of the many gorgeous beaches.

Iceland A relaxing trip doesn’t have to mean “tropical location.” Iceland is a peaceful, stunning destination that features both a beautiful countryside and a vibrant city in Reykjavik. Or, visit the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, which people flock to for a dip in the naturally heated waters.

Reproduced with kind permission of the healthytravelblog.com

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Improving global prevention, detection and response to infection

treavel-healthTwenty-six countries have formed a global coalition to improve prevention, detection, and response to infectious international health threats.
Formed to take on outbreaks, whether they are natural, accidental, or intentional, the initiative mirrors efforts by the World Health Organisation which set out guidelines in 2005 for countries to measure their preparedness for emerging disease threats and outbreaks.
Around $40 million will come out of existing resources to support the efforts in 2014 of 10 low- and middle-income countries which are working to meet the regulations set out by WHO.
Diseases which have never been present in, or were eradicated from, the U.S. are seeing a resurgence. Mosquito-borne West Nile type viruses have appeared for the first time, and drug-resistant tuberculosis is being reported. In areas with high-immigrant populations, and with business people who regularly travel abroad for work, there have been growing reports of TB.
International health regulations require countries to report outbreak to WHO, but many haven’t complied. One of the Global Health Security Agenda’s aims is to better link countries’ disease monitoring systems, and enable biological samples to be shared more rapidly.
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Loneliness worse for your health than obesity

Feeling extremely lonely on a regular basis is worse than obesity for increasing health risks which lead to premature death, say researchers. The study from the University of Chicago found feeling lonely can increase the risk of premature death in an older person by 14 percent. A 2010 study found extreme loneliness has double the impact of obesity on early death in older people writes  of Expathealth.org

The findings mean extreme loneliness is nearly as bad as disadvantaged socioeconomic status in increasing the risk of premature death. Studies have shown people who are of low socioeconomic status have a 19 percent higher risk of early death than those in a better socioeconomic position.

Loneliness can result in disrupted sleep, raised blood pressure, depression, and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, found dramatic differences in the rate of decline of the mental and physical health between socially engaged and lonely older people.

Loneliness risk for expat retirees

Anyone planning on retiring abroad needs to consider the implications of moving away from their family, friends, and social circle.

“Retiring to Florida to live in a warmer climate among strangers isn’t necessarily a good idea if it means you are disconnected from the people who mean the most to you,” said Cacioppo. Population changes make understanding the role of loneliness and health all the more important, he explained.

Although many people are happy in their own company, most people need some degree of social interaction on a daily basis. The research carried out by Cacioppo and his colleagues identified three core dimensions to healthy relationships – intimate connectedness, which comes from having someone in your life you feel affirms who you are; relational connectedness, which comes from having face-to-face contacts that are mutually rewarding; and collective connectedness, which comes from feeling that you’re part of a group.

Older people living alone aren’t necessarily lonely, Cacioppo pointed out. If they remain socially active, and engage with, and enjoy the company of, other people then the adverse effects of extreme loneliness don’t apply.

Older people moving abroad can avoid the consequences of loneliness by staying in touch with friends and family at home, taking part in family traditions including travelling home for important events where possible.

For people moving abroad for the first time there are plenty of expat areas in countries such as Spain, France, and Thailand, where foreigners tend to live. Moving to one of these areas, at least in the beginning, can help with the settling-in process. A common language and shared interests can help support you when you first move abroad and until you find your feet.

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Travel Helps People Live Longer

If you’re thinking about taking a week long vacation, why not make it two?

According to a new report on the interconnection between travel and health, there are some serious health benefits to traveling. The report from the Global Commission on Aging, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, and the U.S. Travel Association uncovers a link between traveling and better physical and mental health, and even shows that those who travel live longer reports the healthytravelblog

The survey found that women who traveled infrequently had a higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease compared to those who traveled at least twice a year.

Men also reaped some significant health benefits; those who didn’t take a vacation once a year were shown to have a 20 percent higher risk of death, while 30 percent were more likely to die from heart disease.

And when it comes to happiness, 86 percent of those who traveled were more content with their lives, compared with 75 percent of those who did not travel.

So how exactly might travel improve health?

A similar study conducted in Australia discovered that travel improved three important factors related to happiness: positive emotions, a sense of purpose, and a sense of involvement. The findings showed that the entire process of traveling, from booking a trip to looking at pictures from it afterwards, simply made people happier.

And since experiencing positive emotions lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease, travel is a great way to stay happy and healthy.

So the next time you travel, be sure to take some time and stop stressing over the things that go wrong. But since that can sometimes be difficult to do, here are some tips for a stress-free vacation:

  • Plan ahead: From booking your flight and accommodations well in advance to creating an itinerary for your trip, there are plenty of vacation details that can be sorted out ahead of time. Even if you don’t plan on visiting every landmark, you’ll at least have time built into your schedule to do so.
  • Pack smart: You can’t predict if something will go wrong, but you can at least be prepared. Make sure you pack a travel-sized first aid kit in case of an emergency and an extra set of clothes in your carry on.
  • Get travel insurance: Trip protection will come in handy if your trip is delayed or cancelled for whatever reason, and travel health insurance can come in handy in case of a medical emergency.
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NHS cuts free care for British expats living in the EU who retire early

shutterstock_58717219The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has caused a stir this week by banning Brits who retire early in the EU from accessing its free health care. This move will affect many British expats who have taken the opportunity to retire early in the sun but who rely on cheap or free care back home writes

The current legislation means British expatriates under state retirement age (65 for men, 60 for women) can receive free health care in countries such as France and Spain even though they are ineligible because they don’t work. The cost to European Union countries of treating these early retirees is reimbursed by the NHS.

The new rules are part of cost-cutting measures being reviewed by the NHS and will come into force on April 1, says the Department of Health.

Currently early retirees complete a S1 form before they leave the UK which entitles them, and possibly their dependents, to free care for two and a half years. To qualify for the full cover period, expats should have paid National Insurance contributions in the UK for three years prior to moving abroad.

The changes won’t affect those who currently have a valid S1 form, but once it runs out they will be required to make arrangements to cover their health care costs. As the rule is likely to come into force in April, expats who think they’re eligible are advised to fill in an S1 form now, which will enable them to have access for the next two and a half years.

The most recent figures show 2,355 residual S1 forms were issued in 2012/13, with many valid for the full 30 months.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that the NHS is sustainable and fair for the British taxpayer. The changes only apply to new applications. All existing residual S1 forms will remain in place and continue to be valid until their cessation date.”

The removal of NHS care for expats will mean they will need to find other cover options such as private medical insurance to cover any expenses until they reach retirement age. This will be very costly for some, and for others with pre-existing conditions, it may be impossible to find.

The changes will only affect those who are not working but are under state retirement age and living within the EU. People who qualify for emergency care with the European Health Insurance card (EHIC) will still be able to access treatment.

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