Monday, July 14, 2014

Tip of the Day: Don't Scrimp on Cost for Int'l Medical Treatment, Evacuation, Including Repatriation of Remains

In 1999, two young American men in their early 20s were traveling in Honduras and had been drinking at a local nightclub in the capital of Tegucigalpa. 

The men emerged from the club at about 0200 hours and encountered three young Honduran men who demanded their money. 

Intoxicated and inexperienced, they made the wrong choice and refused to give up their wallets. Subsequently, one of the Hondurans hit one of the Americans over the wrist with a machete, partially severing his hand from his arm. 

Suddenly, the Hondurans ran off as one of the Americans began bleeding profusely from his wrist, which was hanging by a thread.

The two foreigners, who had no international health coverage let along evacuation coverage went to a local hospital, where the staff demanded payment in advance before treating the robbery victim. 

With neither of the two Americans having no money to pay for the treatment, the hospital helped them contact the US Embassy in the capital, which provided them funds so the robbery victim could be medically treated. 

Unfortunately, with the loss of time in receiving treatment, the injured American never regained full use of his hand.

In another case, an American attorney traveling to Bangkok on business was critically injured when he stepped off a curb to cross the street. Unfortunately, having just arrived in Thailand, the American looked right rather than left, forgetting all traffic in the country flows from the left.

Consequently,  a taxi driver traveling at 40mph hit the attorney who was looking the wrong way on the road, resulting in serious head injuries.  

Although the victim survived, he sustained major head injuries and was later medically evacuated to the United States at a cost of approximately $100,000.

The attorney personally paid this cost because he also had no international medical and evacuation coverage. 

COMMENT: Now that I perhaps have gotten your attention, let me focus directly on today's Tip of the Day, which is to always spare no cost on international medical treatment and evacuation insurance, which should ALWAYS include the repatriation of your remains if you happen to die while abroad.

And yes, it happens far more frequently than you would think, which is why I've included the following links to travelers who have perished in recent weeks while abroad: 

In the case above above, who was murdered in Malaysia, an-in-demand Estonian model in her 20s, Regina Soosalu,  are contemplating raising RM 120,000 (US$37,664) to ship her remains back to Estonia. Yet, the Estonian honorary consul has suggested that the family visit Malaysia at a lesser cost and have her remains cremated and return the urn to Estonia.

Another thought the family is considering is raising such a large amount of money, although they may never get sufficient donations in time.

Recently, although two of seven suspects in Ms. Soosalu's murder have been released, five remain in custody. Soosalu's boyfriend, Tunku Alang Reza Tunku Ibrahim, was one of the five suspects in her homicide.

Ms. Soosalu and Tunku Alang had been involved in a drug case earlier this year and were charged in the magistrate's court on May 12 with possession of 5.84 grams of cannabis. The couple pleaded not guilty and were released on a RM7,000 bail (US$2,197.11).

The case has attracted national interest, and comes on the heels of a separate case involving the body of the British tourist found last month on Pulau Tioman after he went missing while hiking in the jungle.

The downside of living anywhere is knowing how to avoid human spoilage, a critical skill, no matter where you live.

Before you depart abroad on your trip, accept the fact your health insurance at home never applies abroad.

What may very well have contributed to Ms. Soosalu's murder was falling in with the wrong people.

To purchase comprehensive medical coverage, including repatriation of your remains if you die abroad, go to the below websites: