• International Insurance Blog

  • Saturday, March 17, 2018

This weekend promises to be Britain’s coldest for the year. The Brits have even predicted havoc and death to happen over the month due to the extreme weather conditions. If you are traveling to the UK, you need to arm yourself with international medical insurance and international travel insurance. One would cover your medical bills in case you get sick or sprain an ankle over a bad patch of ice while the other insurance can provide you with a safety net for missed or cancelled flights.

Early in the week, the temperature dropped to a severe negative 9.4 degrees Celsius. February 1 was the coldest recorded temperature in the UK for 2012 winter season.  The government has begun preparing for the worst as Prime Minister David Cameron has set emergency and MP on alert. The country is already at level 3 on the cold weather alert and is expected to remain at this level or worse up to next week.  Alert level 3 is the second gravest level in weather conditions. The sick and elderly and those traveling are advised to keep indoors.

Respected British forecaster, Brian Gaze has said that, “This is the coldest week of winter so far, and if you are travelling, keep checking local forecasts and travel information.” The Met Office has issued a similar warning to residents and visitors to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary and buy provisions for the weekend ahead of time.

It is possible that flights may be delayed or cancelled so check with the airlines before going to the airport. The sidewalks will be slippery and roads may not be passable. If you can delay your trip to the UK for one week, you may experience better weather conditions and less chances of getting into an accident or sick because of the weather.


For several years there has been talk about radiation from airport scanner but the Transportation Security Administration or TSA have continued to turn a blind eye to these “rumors.” That is, until this month, January 2012 when TSA finally decided to test airport security officers for radiation exposure.  Imagine being a frequent traveler, local or international and having to pass these scanners repeatedly without choice. Doesn’t it make it imperative to have international travel health insurance? Technically, you are en route to your destination so radiation exposure could be included in your international health insurance. It’s worth checking on with your provider.
It might also concern you that just last December 2011, TSA required all government vendors to have equipment that would measure radiation exposure. The spokesman for TSA, Nico Melendez said, “TSA is dedicated to the health and safety of its employees. We continuously test our technology to ensure it is safe for both passenger and our officers, and post all results to our website.”
The problems critics have with this policy of not determining radiation levels in airport scanners is that these machines can malfunction, and have done so many times in the past year alone. This implies that radiation exposure could be at a level that isn’t safe. James Babb who co-founded the group, We Won’t Fly says that, “We still have no idea how much radiation is being imposed on travelers by a properly functioning machine. A malfunctioning machine could be particularly nasty.”  This consumer rights group wants an independent body to do the tests on the machines and not just on security personnel who worked with the scanners. However, they do accept that the TSA is moving forward by recognizing that there may be a potential hazard that needs to be addressed properly.

The strange mystery of flights coming out of Cuba and ending up with passengers getting sick even before reaching their destination is starting to get scary. The flight from Cuba to Toronto a day ago reported 12 people sick by the time the plane landed in Canada. This would be the 4th time such an incident has happened. Fortunately for some, they had sufficient international travel health insurance to cover their treatment. But what the others passengers without insurance? Without international health insurance, they would have unexpected out-of-pocket expenses and not even know why it happened.

Public officials in Canada have already raised the alarm and announced that the nature of the sickness was gastrointestinal illness. During the flight, passengers began to experience dizziness and diarrhea. They also had fever and nausea.

According to public health officials, everyone on the flight had to be examined although no one was rushed to the hospital. They are currently investigating food sources on the airplane and from resorts in Cuba. A common thread is the 4 resorts many of the Canadian tourists stayed in while in Cuba.

The timeline for past incidents for this past week alone as released by the Canadian authorities or the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are:

Tuesday – 7 passengers fell ill
Thursday – 20 passengers got sick
Friday – 12 got sick

There has been no quarantine or epidemic declared but all flights from Cuba are under the strictest surveillance. One passenger did report getting sick while in Cuba because of a suspected seafood meal. Most of her time in Cuba was spent in bed, sick and vomiting. Along with her, she reports that there were around 10 other tourists in the same resort with similar problems.

A researcher from the University of Connecticut, Dipak Das is being accused of fabrication and falsification of data regarding the use of grape pulp and delaying the aging process. Since this research was done several years and has been published in medical journals, the word has spread that resveratrol which is found in grape pulp and skin is going to make you live longer. Anyone who has believed it may have used it as an excuse not to take meds or get international health insurance. Frequent travelers are advised that if they drunk red wine to avoid getting international travel health insurance, they should reconsider.

The sad part about this whole situation is that not everyone who read this hype about red wine will read this report, and keep drinking red wine under a false assumption. According to the university’s VP for Health Affairs, ““We have a responsibility to correct the scientific record and inform peer researchers across the country.”
The investigation into this falsified research began almost 4 years ago and the results have just been released. It accounts for more than 145 incidents of falsification and fabrication of data. Others who may have been involved in the “lie” are being investigated as well.

In response to this allegation, Dipak Das, he says a conspiracy is being launched against him. He says that his work has been confirmed and “repeated by many scientists all over the world.” He added that, “As you know, because of the development of tremendous amount of stress in my work environment in recent months, I became a victim of stroke for which I am undergoing treatment.”

Nonetheless, the university is working on proceedings to have him dismissed and they have notified the medical journals that have published his research about the results of the investigation. The grant from the federal government amounting to $890,000 has been withheld by the school.

In defense of Das, another researcher from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Nir Barzilai said that, “There are many investigators who are working on resveratrol.  That doesn’t mean we know the whole truth. But Rome wasn’t built on Dr. Das.”

If you have just bought Novartis Over-The-Counter drugs Excedrin, Gas-X Prevention, NoDoz, or Bufferin, check the expiration dates. They may be included in the recall of the company due to complaints about broken pills. If you are traveling overseas and have these drugs in your medicine bag, use your international health insurance to make the necessary adjustments and changes. It would risky to keep taking these drugs and assuming that you can use your international medical insurance to cover any ill effects from taking the drugs. Why take the chance?
According to Novartis, the recall is a precautionary and voluntary act on the part of company and should not have any adverse effect. They have even listed down the exact batches for each drugs that fall under the recall:

• Excedrin and NoDoz – Expiration dates Dec 2014 or earlier
• Bufferin and Gas X prevention – Expiration Dates Dec 2013 and earlier

All new shipments have been postponed to determine the cause of the broken or chipped pills. They have several theories such as heavy handling during shipping, aggressive handling, problem with display, or a production foul-up. The problem with broken pills if they are time release-type tablets is that they can cause problems because a person is exposed to the drug all at once instead of over a period of time.
Novartis promises to work hand in hand with the FDA to resolve and improve the problem before shipping out new batches. According the CEO of Novartis, Joseph Jimenez, “We are committed to a single quality standard for the entire Novartis Group and we are making the necessary investments and committing the right resources to ensure these are implemented across our entire network.”

Hot off the tables of the top World Health Organization officers is a warning to those planning to travel over the holidays. First of all is the important need to get international travel insurance. International travel health insurance will protect you no matter where you are from having to pay exorbitant amounts for medical or travel problems.

Second is the warning from WHO about new flu viruses. This warning comes on the heels of 10 new infections from a flu virus in the United States which appears to be a variant of the swine flu. WHO has also said that they have alerted the medical communities around the world about new outbreaks for polio, human flu, small pox and SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The last outbreak of SARS happened 9 years ago and started in China before spreading to the west including Canada. That outbreak caused more than 770 deaths. The WHO is determined to avoid something similar happening this year end, and into 2012. A stern warning has also been given to everyone about reporting any incident as part of a country’s obligation to the rest of the world. This refers only to diseases and infections that are new with symptoms that may resemble an outbreak or mutated virus.

Travelers should keep track of what’s happening in the places they plan to visit before even getting on a plane or ship. If they have trip cancellation insurance, they can claim for a refund on their ticket.  Furthermore, they have to get their immunizations updated including the one for the influenza. According to WHO, “Influenza viruses are unpredictable, they have the possibility to change and become more transmissible among humans as shown by the emergence of the influenza pandemic H1N1 virus in 2009.” For this reason, continued monitoring of the occurrence of human infections with these viruses and characterization of the viruses themselves are critically important to assess their pandemic potential.”

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