Travel abroad without Insurance at your peril

Compass-11.jpgPolicies help more than 4,300 people a week who need medical treatment while abroad

Travel insurance helps over 4,300 people a week who need medical treatment while they are abroad, but a fifth (19%) of all Brits risk travelling abroad uninsured, data shows.

The figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that in 2013 the average claim for emergency medical treatment was £930.

Travel insurers pay out an average of £4m every week to cover medical costs.

Aidan Kerr, head of travel insurance at the ABI, said: “No one expects to go holiday and have to make a claim on their travel insurance. However, unfortunately for many travellers, having something go wrong can be a very real experience. It can be especially traumatic when you or someone you are travelling with is taken ill or injured.” reports the Health Insurance Daily

The ABI said people travelling in Europe must have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows them to receive emergency treatment from public hospitals across Europe.

It also said consumers should shop around for the best deal but should not buy a policy based on price alone as it might not cover all of their needs.

The world’s best countries to retire to in 2014

parisThere is a wide belief that expats are career-driven youngsters, passionate adventure seekers and important business leaders. However, a significant chunk of the expatriate community is also made up of retirees. Those who have worked hard and are now looking to move to sunnier and peaceful locations abroad, to enjoy the rest of their lives.

A number of factors need to be considered when seeking out which country is best for retirement. Climate and the cost and quality of living is what is most instantly thought about, but looking at the healthcare system is equally as important. Here are the top countries with the best healthcare systems according to IL’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014, all ranking with 90 points and above.

  • France – 97 points – The country is renowned for the quality of its healthcare. It is always at the forefront of pioneering research, with fantastic hospitals and a high life expectancy rate. Even international medical insurance companies advice that expats choosing to live in France permanently, should join the national state health insurance. The CMU scheme is a popular option with any pre-existing conditions being disregarded. Expat retirees who have the E121/S1 are eligible from the start.
  • Uruguay – 96 points – Quality healthcare is available to all in Uruguay. There is a free public system that all residents are eligible for. The free clinics can be crowded but also ensures that those who do not have health insurance still have the basic cover. Every town is privy to this and assures that no one is left without quality cover. The private health system is well-equipped and inexpensive, of which an estimated 50% of the population enjoy. Each private healthcare organisation has its own standards for accepting new members, including age.
  • Malaysia – 95 points – The country is famed for its quality healthcare and the cheap cost. The staff are well trained and facilities are modern. There is a comprehensive range of healthcare services but foreigners cannot access the free public healthcare system. This shouldn’t be a problem however, as health insurance is extremely low in cost and can actually be paid out of pocket. However, age is a factor when considering annual premiums.
  • Costa Rica – 94 points – Costa Rica is known for its constant advancement in the public and private sector healthcare systems. Private healthcare is affordable and of high quality. Free medical services can sometimes be quite long and overcrowded but still works well for the residents. Expats becoming legal residents can join the CCSS and get free treatment for virtually everything, all at a small monthly fee.
  • Mexico and Portugal – 93 points – The countries’ healthcare systems includes a big universal health insurance programme as well as small private ones. There are an abundance of high quality hospitals and health insurance in both countries is relatively cheap. The cost of medical care will depend on the condition and the hospital.  Portuguese healthcare is available to legal residents of the country with their local healthcare. Basic cover is provided but additional insurance may be a good idea to cover any additional needs.
  • Spain and Panama – 91 points – The standard of hospitals and clinics in the Spain have been compared to the NHS. Private medical cover is advised and is usually set up in advance but registering with the local authority when you arrive is also crucial as it gives you the same healthcare rights as Spanish residents. In Panama, the quality of healthcare is high in the cities but not so much in rural areas. Private health insurance is very cheap as are prescription drugs.
  • Colombia, Thailand and Brazil – Hospitals in Colombia are of good quality and the staff are well trained and often English-speaking. Private medical insurance is advised on top of the national healthcare plan. The health system in Thailand consists of the private medical sector and the non-profit sector which was introduced in 2001. There are many English-speaking GPs. Medical care is available to anyone who is a legal resident in Brazil, including foreign residents

Head to Asia on a Detox Holiday

Beach (3)As the spiritual home of healing, Asia is an ideal choice for a detox holiday to cleanse your body, clear your mind and improve your overall well-being. To help you along the way and ensure you get the very best out of your healing escape, Health and Fitness Travel, the UK’s leading specialist in healthy holidays worldwide, handpicked some of the best detox holidays to be found across the exotic continent we know and love as, Asia. Whether you take detox holidays on a regular basis or are looking to try out your first, Health and Fitness Travel’s tailor-made holidays combine a variety of holistic spa treatments, fitness activities and healthy detox diets, for a personalized life-changing experience that will have you ‘spring-cleansing’ year after year writes the

Thailand: Absolute Sanctuary Detox With lush rainforests, beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, Thailand is the perfect place to detox, de-stress and relax away from the worries of modern life. Using a combination of detoxing drinks and natural spa therapies, the tropical oasis of Absolute Sanctuary offers guests a range of holistic wellness programs to boost your well-being revival. Heal your body with up to 4 detox drinks a day, together with coconut juice and unlimited broth soups; all designed to improve your digestion and leave you feeling re-enerzised. Also renowned for its comprehensive yoga holidays, Absolute Sanctuary provides a selection of disciplines across multiple classes every day, to complement your detox.

Bali: Como Shambhala Detox Holiday Renowned for its idyllic landscapes and rich cultural heritage, heavily influenced by the Hindu- Buddhist ideals of spiritual well-being, Bali is an ideal choice for a destination detox holiday. Cleanse your body of toxins with a choice of healing therapies and a diverse menu of fresh and nutritional detox cuisine at Como Shambhala. Take advantage of the multi-award winning spa and indulge in luxury treatments, designed to help remove an accumulation of harmful toxins from your body. Meals at the resort’s restaurants can be personalized to your specific detoxing goals and tastes, so you can improve your body’s natural defense system while enjoying mouth-watering and healthy Asian-inspired cuisine.

India: Ananda Detox As the birthplace of yoga and holistic Ayurvedic spa treatments, it should come as no surprise that some of the best detox holidays in the world can be found in inspirational India. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, Ananda’s beautiful scenery adds to the healing power of the resort’s detox program. Structuring their programs to address all areas of holistic healing, Ananda provides the key to an effective detox with treatments to improve blood circulation and the efficiency of the lymphatic system. Rejuvenate with healing treatments including mountain dew skin facials and detoxifying salt scrubs, alongside daily wellness classes performed with stunning views of the scenic backdrop.

Philippines: The Farm Detox Formed of over 7,000 islands, boasting lush rainforest and secluded beaches, many of the Philippines sparsely inhabited islands provide the ideal retreat for a detox escape. Cleanse your body and restore balance to your life with a detox holiday at The Farm. Tailor your escape with a range of cleansing treatments combined with award-winning raw vegan cuisine to leave you feeling renewed and revitalized. Consultations with a medical doctor and personal trainer will not only help you achieve your goals, but also set you up to improve your lifestyle and nutritional choices after you return home.  

Guest Author: Health and Fitness Travel Health and Fitness Travel is a global luxury wellness travel company that originated in the UK in 2010 and is committed to providing healthy holidays that enhance and change lives. Created by Paul Joseph and Adam Heathcote as a result of their passion for health and fitness travel and offering bespoke holidays to improve people’s well-being to lead happier and healthier lives.    

Health and Fitness Travel offers clients a tailor-made seamless service with the very best health and fitness holidays, handpicked by its expert team, together with exclusive and added value packages with the best deals. As leading specialists, Health and Fitness Travel has also created their own collection of trademark healthy holidays in various destinations which include Fusion Fitness™ BodyBreaks™ and Discover Recover™, offering clients the best value and holiday experience. For more information visit:

Expat health insurance top priority for half of businesses

backview of senior couple looking over the seaAccording to research 47% of companies believe health insurance cover is an essential part of the benefits package for expat employees. The Anatomy of an international business research, which surveyed 1,000 employers, also found that 43% believe that share options are an essential part of the package writes

More than a quarter (27%) of those polled said their staff had used a 24-hour medical helpline abroad, and 26% have had to make use of medical evacuation where facilities were not available locally. Nearly half (45%) think medical evacuation should be included as part of an international insurance package, with the same percentage calling for a 24-hour medical helpline

Most expatriates positive about their lifestyle

A survey by a leading international private medical insurance broker amongst expatriates has discovered that most expatriates were positive about their lifestyle with 80% of the sample saying they either ‘really enjoyed’ or ‘enjoyed’ their lives abroad writes iPMI magazine.
By contrast, less than 2% said they were not enjoying their time overseas. Nearly 60% of the sample cited a better climate as the main reason for their positive outlook, closely followed by an improved standard of living. Being away from their home country was also an influencing factor. A better social life, additional income, experiencing different cultures and their job did not add significantly to the overall happiness of respondents

What is dengue and how is it treated?

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. There are four distinct serotypes of the dengue virus (DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3 and DEN 4). Symptoms appear in 3–14 days (average 4–7 days) after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults.

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Severe dengue is a potentially lethal complication but early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses often save lives.

More than 70% of the disease burden is in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the incidence and severity of disease have increased rapidly in recent years. The African and Eastern Mediterranean regions have also recorded more outbreaks of the disease in the last ten years. In 2010 indigenous transmission of dengue was also reported in two countries of Europe. Urbanization, rapid movement of people and goods, favorable climatic conditions and lack of trained staff have all contributed to the global increase of dengue

Benefits of learning a second language last a lifetime

shutterstock_28674544For many expats learning a second or third language is par for the course, but studies have shown the benefits of speaking another language extend far beyond being able to communicate. Learning a language benefits the brain in ways that can pay off later in life, according to the deepening field of study into the relationship between bilingualism and cognition.

Increasing numbers of studies are finding learning a language benefits an ageing brain. In one large Scottish study, researchers looked at the standard intelligences tests, administered to 11-year olds, of 835 native English speakers born in Edinburgh in 1936. Many were retested in their 70s and those who spoke two or more languages performed significantly better cognitively on certain tasks than would be expected from their original IQ tests, said study author Dr. Thomas Bak of the University of Edinburgh.

“Our results suggest a protective effect of bilingualism against age-related cognitive decline, independently of IQ,” Bak and his co-authors concluded.

In a separate study from Canada, psychologists also studied bilingualism and its effects on the brain in dementia patients. They discovered people who speak two or more languages outperformed monolinguals in tasks which require attention, selection and inhibition. These are the high-level cognitive processes which we need to multitask effectively.

For the brain the process of multitasking is complicated and taxes energy resources, said Ellen Bialystok in CBC News, who runs a cognitive research lab at York. She first observed how bilingual children perform better in the 1980s writes

“What a bilingual always has to do is draw attention to the right language, and keep that other active language out of the way. Now the system that selects, inhibits, and switches is the executive function system, she explained.

“That means that every time a bilingual opens their mouth, they’re using their executive function system. It’s getting practised, it’s getting fortified, and it’s becoming more efficient.”

BrokerFish launches ALC Health Company Page, one of the world’s leading international medical insurance comparison sites launched a dedicated ALC Health Company Page on their web site:

What says about ALC’s health insurance:

“ALC consistently stands out among other international medical insurance companies by its approach to customer care and where we have found their service to be both highly responsive and efficient.

We like ALC World – their dedicated online member service which brings together a range of services. They work hard to make sure that your experience of ALC Health is the best it can be. Whether it’s when you receive your policy documents for the first time or need their assistance when making a claim, their knowledgeable and highly experienced team are on hand to help you every step of the way.”.

Indonesian government ‘defeated by cigarette industry’

Tobacco companies have largely ignored the deadline for displaying graphic warnings on all cigarette packs sold in Indonesia. The setback is a blow to Indonesia’s anti-smoking campaign and its efforts to lower the smoking rate, currently the highest for male smokers in the world.

Despite being told a year and a half ago, many tobacco companies have not heeded the requirements to cover at least 40 percent of packaging with graphic warnings. The deadline for complying was Tuesday 24th June and campaigners say most companies didn’t make changes.

The National Commission for Child Protection said it found little sign of change in brands being sold in Jakarta and 11 other cities across the country. “This clearly indicates that the cigarette industry has defied Indonesian law,” said commission chair Arist Merdeka Sirait. “The government has been defeated by the cigarette industry.”

Only around 12 percent of the 3,300 tobacco brands owned by 672 companies nationwide have registered the photos they plan to use on their packaging, according to the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency. Manufacturers were given a choice of five images last June.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said companies who missed the deadline will be issued with a warning and continued failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $42,000, and five years in prison.

Indonesia’s largest cigarette supplier, Philip Morris-owned Sampoerna, said it had issued packets with the new warnings on Monday, but needed time to clear its existing stock.

“We believe the government will implement the regulation consistently and fairly, so as to realize a climate of healthy competition among cigarette manufacturers, as well as providing clear information about the impact of smoking on health,” Sampoerna spokesman Tommy Hersyaputera said.

Tobacco controls are particularly contentious in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest producers of cigarettes and a growing market for the industry. Tobacco farmers often hold protests when restrictions are proposed. Indonesia is also one of the few countries which hasn’t joined a World Health Organisation tobacco treaty.

Advertising also runs rife in ways not seen in western countries for years. Billboards, LED displays, and television ads all push cigarettes on Indonesia’s 240 million people. A national survey found 67 percent of males aged of 15 smoke – the highest rate in the world – and 35 percent of the total population regularly smoke, surpassed on only by Russia

Travelers warned to get measles vaccine

treavel-healthAfter the recent measles outbreak in the USA, travelers going abroad this summer are advised to get vaccinated before they travel. There have been a record-number of measles cases in the United States this year, many resulting from unvaccinated travelers visiting places such as Southeast Asia, and Africa and returning home infected with the disease, reports

So far this year, there have been a confirmed 334 measles cases, the highest figure in more than two decades. ‘Homegrown’ measles cases – those originating the US – were eliminated in 2000, and the recent spike is due to unvaccinated travelers visiting areas which have an active measles outbreak.

“This is not the kind of record we want to break, but should be a wake-up call for travelers and for parents to make sure vaccination records are up to date,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.

Before the measles vaccine became available in 1963, the virus infected about 500,000 Americans each year, causing 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. The CDC said 22 of the cases seen the US this year had been brought back from the Philippines, where a large outbreak began in October 2013.

Measles is best prevented by the MMR vaccine, which, when administered correctly, protects patients from measles, mumps and rubella. Ninety percent of cases in the US this year have been among people who have not had the vaccination or are of unknown vaccination status, according to the CDC. Many people who don’t have the vaccine do so due to religious, personal, or philosophical reasons, reports USA Today.

“Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that’s best prevented with an MMR vaccine,” said Dr. Mark Sannes, chair of infectious disease for the Park Nicollet Travel Clinic. He also noted polio is on the rise in other countries, and 10 places are currently experiencing outbreaks.

Other common disease travelers should consider vaccinations for are hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, and rabies. While there is no vaccine at present, malaria is another ongoing risk for visitors to many tropical and subtropical regions. You should ideally see your doctor four to six weeks before you travel for advice on which vaccines you may require. Even if you leave it late, Sannes notes, last-minute appointments should still be available.

Though measles remains officially “eliminated” in the USA – because there have been no sustained homegrown outbreaks in recent years – “this is a reminder that we cannot let our guard down,” Schuchat said.

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