There Are Only Four CT Scanners in Haiti… and Other Things I’ve Learned at My Job
Like most of you, I’m not an insurance expert. As the marketing gal for Insurance Services of America I communicate who we are and what we have to offer, but I’m not an insurance agent.
Unlike most of you, I sit amongst very smart insurance experts who explain how insurance works every day. They’ve taught me–and I’ve overheard–some interesting and helpful things you might like to know too. So what are these nuggets of wisdom? Here are three:
1) There are only four CT scanners in Haiti.
Many of our clients travel to help impoverished people around the world, Haiti being one of the most popular destinations. The work being done in this country is priceless: building homes, administering medicine, feeding the hungry, and more. It is amazing to learn about the generosity of our clients.
A few months ago, one such client shared a story about his air evacuation from Haiti to Florida. He was experiencing intense stomach pains and sought help from the local doctors. His symptoms indicated appendicitis, but a CT scanner was not available to confirm the diagnosis.
So while the doctors in Haiti were recommending removal of the appendix and were preparing to operate, our client opted to use his emergency medical evacuation coverage and was flown to Miami. There, a CT scan showed that the problem was not his appendix after all, but something with the same symptoms as appendicitis. It was a rare condition that could only be confirmed with a CT scan, and treating it did not require surgery. Our client was thankful he didn’t have to part ways with his appendix for no good reason.
“But wait. No CT scanner?” you ask. It’s true. In all of Haiti, there are only four CT scanners; three are privately owned and a fourth is yet to be installed in a forthcoming teaching hospital (source: NPR). Without his evacuation benefit, our client just wouldn’t have had the option for a proper diagnosis.
2) Don’t get diabetes.
I realize some of you may already have this condition, but for those of us without it, try your best to prevent it by altering what you eat and how often you exercise. Why? Because I’ve learned that for those with the illness, finding an insurance plan to cover them can be hard. But it’s not impossible.
We sell an insurance plan called Health Essential which can cover people even if they have diabetes. So, if you already have diabetes and are in need of health insurance, please call us to learn about this plan. If you don’t have diabetes, try not to get it! (Here are some tips from Alyssa and the Mayo Clinic) Almost every day I hear about people trying to find coverage. I knew diabetes was a growing health concern, but not until I started working at an insurance brokerage did I realize what the long-term financial implications could be.
3) Travel insurance is worth it.
Here’s the thing: appendixes burst, wrists get broken playing basketball, ankles get twisted, mosquitoes carrying malaria bite, needles prick, nasty bugs in the local river can give you spinal meningitis while you’re on your honeymoon. I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just relaying some of the stories I’ve overheard in our office this last year-and-a-half since I’ve been here. No one likes to think about disasters happening, especially while planning a relaxing vacation or mission trip to help the less fortunate. But even ordinary activities can go wrong—slipping on a soccer ball while playing with the local kids, falling off a motorbike on your way to the market, eating something that doesn’t agree with your stomach. While health care is often less expensive in countries outside the US, many physicians require money up-front for their services—that’s not something standard US-health insurance is set up to do. It may “cover” you overseas, but you automatically default to reduced out-of-network benefits and are still expected to pay the bills at the time of service. Travel medical insurance, which addresses the needs of travelers, is designed to pay providers directly, translate the bills and, most importantly, coordinate an air evacuation if needed.
That’s another thing: while medical care can be affordable overseas, if you can’t find the proper treatment (or a CT scanner, like our client in Haiti) an air evacuation to a hospital can cost upwards of $50,000. I highly doubt the insurance you have from your employer or your private insurance covers emergency air medical evacuation. And I know that Medicare won’t cover it (another thing I’ve learned since working here).
The best part is, travel medical insurance can be incredibly affordable. Time after time, I overhear agents in the office giving a quote over the phone and they almost always have to explain that the cost they quoted is for the entire trip or for the whole group. People can’t believe that the cost can be under $1/day/person. One of the first stories I heard when I started working here was that of one of our agents, Aaron. Read for yourself how he spent just $80 on a policy for himself and his wife that ultimately saved them $30,000!
Prior to working at Insurance Services of America, I had never really heard of travel insurance or and couldn’t fathom why someone would buy it. But it hasn’t taken long, I haven’t had to hear too many stories or review too many case studies to see and believe in its value.
I encourage anyone interested in learning more about this insurance to call us. Pick our brains, ask questions, review the details. If there’s one thing I have learned—and there have been many—it’s that our staff is passionate and knowledgeable about this stuff and eager to help folks like us.
By Trina Ypsilanti, Director of Marketing and Advertising and by Adam Bates, Vice President