Category Archives: Travel and Insurance

Save money – go travelling!

T2 hopes to make experience better 

Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 opens this week, but let’s face it – air travel is no longer the glamorous experience of the 1950s. The brochure for the re-opening even has to use a  1950s photo of Maria Callas – today’s flying celebs look pretty awful in comparison.

But one good thing is you can save money by shopping for essentials at the

New T2

Airport, particularly if you fly out of the new Terminal 2.

The new terminal has been years in the planning – hopefully making the airport experience better, from more coordinated assistance, to saving money on buying our essentials.

And essentials to me cover skincare – which I need for my drug-ridden skin, thank you very much, and woe betide any Continue reading

Losing Health Insurance benefits for U.S. Baby Boomers

When Baby Boomers

Lose Health Insurance Benefits



By Sue Swen of LivingSenior



Losing health insurance benefits can be a frustrating and stressful experience for a person of any age, but for baby boomers that are nearing retirement age; it is even more overwhelming.

Baby boomers, or men and women born between 1946 and 1964, are entering their years of retirement (, which is associated which retiring from their jobs, living on a fixed income and dealing with the financial obligations of living on this lower income, paying additional fees for assisted or independent senior living communities, and the heightened health conditions and risk factors. So when a baby boomer loses their medical insurance coverage, whether while they are still employed or as a result of losing their job, it can be a debilitating experience due to the other worries associated with getting older and entering the next phase in their life.

Health insurance benefits and coverage is expected to change over the next several years which will have a direct effect on baby boomers. When they lose health insurance benefits before or during the age of retirement, baby boomers are expected to pay for insurance out of their own pocket and without substantial retirement savings; this can be close to impossible or otherwise diminish their quality of life considerably. When their group coverage insurance benefits are taken away, baby boomers will have limited choices in what insurance they can receive, most of which are not only pricey but may not accept seniors with pre-existing conditions.

COBRA insurance is typically the first choice for baby boomers that lose their job and insurance benefits as a result. However, while COBRA will give them an additional 18 months of health insurance benefits without worrying about pre-existing conditions, the costs of this insurance is staggering and may not be worth pursuing. Baby boomers that have serious medical conditions and may not be able to get insurance elsewhere should consider COBRA at least as a short-term solution.

Another option for health insurance coverage after losing their primary insurance benefits is to enroll in Medicare ( early, which may be an option for seniors who have retired early from their jobs. Enrolling in Part A or B of Medicare is recommended, along with Part D for discount prescription drug coverage and Medigap ( supplemental insurance to eliminate most out-of-pocket costs. If baby boomers are not able to enroll in Medicare when they lose their health insurance benefits, private insurance should be considered however it can be very expensive and have exceptions such as what kind of drugs are covered and if they can be enrolled with pre-existing conditions.


The best way to cope with losing health insurance benefits for baby boomers is to focus on their current health and maintain that level of health in order to reduce the necessity of seeing the doctor and paying these extra costs.

  • Living a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise
  • eating natural, organic foods
  • drinking plenty of water
  • decreasing the amount of unhealthy substances such as alcohol and tobacco

can impact their health greatly.

Contact for links underlined:



See more on exercise

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Booking your holiday? Don't forget to book your insurance too – especially if you have cancer

The cover of the old British E111 booklet
Image via Wikipedia


With medical costs soaring in other countries as well as UK, cancer patients are warned they must have medical insurance when they go abroad, even if they hold the EHIC Card (European Health Insurance).
Why?  Because EHIC only covers you for emergency treatment – not repatration costs (if you have to be flown home).  Even from a European city this can cost over £20 – £50,000 by Air Ambulance.
But trying to find insurance for a holiday, many of us find problems.  We are quoted wildly differing premiums, and cancer charities have been concerned that many post cancer patients find they are quoted a massive premium – sometimes more than the trip will cost.
Others complain that they have been refused insurance “because they didn’t tick the right boxes” when interrogated by insensitive Call Centre staff.
It is no use going to Europe and expecting the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to cover you completely if you need treatment – all you will be given is emergency cover, and NO help with repatriation. Go further afield, what the brochures don’t tell you is how far you might have to be airlifted if there is a medical problem – and who will pay for this?
When booking a holiday, how many tour operators will have the expertise to tell you if there is a suitable hospital near by – or, if you go somewhere like the Galapagos, how many hours it will take to transfer you to the nearest medical centre?
Gap in market
So, seeing a gap in the market, insurance expert Krish Shastri set up MediTravel Cover and . He says “our sole purpose is the provision of travel insurance to those diagnosed with cancer. Our interests are aligned with those of the patient – our existence is dependent on our ability to help, and we do not have conflicts of interest”.
This service is highly specialised, with each case being individually assessed, and “given our focus on cancer, all our applicants must be in the care of an oncologist. In order to better reflect our specialist skills we adopted the trading style ‘InsureCancer’  – this change does not affect the registered company (Medi Travelcover Ltd.) details.
We are able to provide cover for those ‘on treatment’ including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy or for those awaiting treatment, surgery etc. Our main requirement is that the patient should be clinically well for their trip. As part of the process of establishing clinical fitness we may contact the attending oncologist for clinical information”.
But don’t expect them to provide a cheap quote for a trip to the Galapagos – apparently it can take around 14 hours to transfer somone with a broken leg!
Each case is individually underwritten on the basis of clinical fitness; “we do not use arbitrary guidelines such as age etc. i.e. no age limits apply. However, we do take into account the standards of medical care available at the chosen destination. In addition, the patient’s clinical fitness requirements for Paris will be quite different to the requirements for Perth, Australia.
When I made a ‘test call’ and asked if I could be insured to go to a popular destination, I was quoted a very reasonable rate – which included all my warts!’
But when I enquired if the cost would be the same for the same length of flight to another popular destination, I was told that this would be almost impossible to obtain, as the medical cover at that resort was not considered suitable – (translation: definitely not up to standard!)
So it reassuring to know that the company has the expertise and knowledge about medical facilities around the world, including the USA.
Krish says “you may be interested to know that H.M. The Queen bestowed the country’s highest corporate honour ‘The Queen’s Award for Enterprise’ on InsureCancer and Medi Travelcover Ltd. in recognition of: “Pioneering insurance underwriting innovation for those affected by cancer.”
1.  You MUST carry an EHIC card if going to European destinations.  You will be asked to show this, and if you don’t, your insurer might charge you for the difference that the hospital will charge them.  You get it from your local Post Office.

2.  The internet has become the top source of information for patients seeking the latest and best medical treatment options, however, it is also potentially open to abuse, particularly when seeking insurance quotations.

Dr Richard Theo warns patients to seek independent, authoritative sources of information only and to be aware of ‘‘Sham Websites’.  He says: “Watch out for sham websites, unfortunately there are numerous websites that say that they will provide you with quotes and price comparisons when in fact all they do is take your personal information and sell it on.” In guidelines prepared for in Capital Health Dr Theo has prepared a simple checklist to, “suss them out”. He says, “If they don’t do all of the following then look elsewhere:

  • the website should demonstrate the service they provide before taking your information for example a video or pictures that show sample quotes or the price comparison features of the website
  • the website should be run by an FSA authorised company with their registration number displayed plainly at the bottom and the words “Authorised and regulated by the FSA” and not “appointed representative”
  • the website should provide a freephone telephone number plainly on the home page to allow you to contact them. If they don’t then it’s just a sham website phishing for your personal information. Call the number and ask whether they are able to advise you themselves

A concern that patients often discuss with in Capital Health is the all-too frequent discovery that the private medical insurance (PMI) cover they thought was in place, is not.  In response to these concerns, in Capital Health has created a new ‘Your Health Insurance’ section on the in Capital Health menu bar.

But choose your insurer carefully, and one day you may find you are eternally grateful, when a kindly voice on the telephone miles away says, “don’t worry – you are covered – and we will take care of all the administration”.

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Gatwick introduces Body Scanners

X-ray machines and metal detectors are used to...
Image via Wikipedia

Will Dept. Transport learn from USA – or will cancer patients have to make concerns known?

No-one in their right minds wants to aid terrorism, and most of us feel more secure when we look at newer measures put in place at airports counter threats.

One such measure is overall body scanners, which produce an X-ray picture of our body (without clothes).  Most passengers will go along with this, when they realise it helps their security.

However, there are concerns with the amount of radiation produced;  one respected US University (UCLA) produced one report from top scientists saying they were safe;  next day published another survey saying they were not.

However, this doesn’t excuse security authorities for insensitive treatment of passengers, and in the States the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) seems to have built up a chorus of condemnation in their handling of cancer and other patients, when they introduced body scanners.

In the States most airports will employ body scanners.

First, the airline pilots sued – they objected to being subjected to potential harmful build-up of X-rays (although the authorities denied this).  TSA caved in, and now they aren’t subject to scans.  Some patients may belong to RAGE, and understand their concerns.

But, in the States, if you don’t want to go through this process you have the option of a pat-down.  A patdown is when the security agent uses their hands to feel over your body to check you aren’t carrying fire-arms, knives, anything illegal, etc.

As a woman, being examined by another woman using the patdown method, I have sometimes been made to feel distinctly uneasy by the intrusiveness and potentially sexual element shown to me by some agents – but one tends to shrug this off.  You are fully dressed, although it can leave you feeling ‘violated’.  However, I stress that the majority of patdowns I have had have been carried out in an exemplary and professional manner.

Now, Adrienne Durso, an American breast-cancer survivor passenger, has said she is going to sue the TSA for what she says was an intrusive patdown. Her lawsuit is being handled by the same solicitors that sued the TSA on behalf of two pilots; outcome of that case making TSA decide pilots will not be subjected to patdowns.

UPI (the respected news agency United Press International), says “solicitors Drinker Biddle and Reath LLP, which is representing Durso and several other challengers of the security procedures pro bono, says their constitutional right to protection from unreasonable searches was violated. The law firm wants the TSA to drop the use of whole body scans and enhanced patdowns”.

Adrienne Durso, from California, says she went through a metal detector at Albuquerque airport, but then was selected to have a patdown.  She says the agent “heavily concentrated on my breast area where I told her I’d had a mastectomy the year previous and it just seemed to go on and on.”  But said her teenage son was told he was not subjected to a patdown because he does not have “boobs.”

Could this happen in Britain?

At the moment the Dept. Transport are in charge of our security at ports and airports, and they haven’t been very forthcoming.  As usual, they hide behind a fog of  ‘officialese’, and won’t give definite answers when asked about procedures.

However, they have introced Body Scanners at Gatwick Airport.  Currently passengers are selected at random for a scan, and if you refuse to have this your ONLY option is to go home.  Luck of the draw – and you can’t travel.

When I have taken this up with BAA, Dept. Transport etc. arrogant officials refuse to see implications, and won’t offer cancer patients option of a pat down.  If anyone knows Philip Hammond, currently Transport Minister – ask him why.

Surely it is time for the Department to be pro-active, and consult with the various patients’ organisations, charities, etc about the best way to handle passengers with prosthesises, ports, colostomy bags, etc?   These organisations have raised questions, but from what one is told they are being fobbed off.  I was on two cancer charity focus committees discussing this.  We were promised we would be consulted before body scanning became the law – but NOTHING.

This needs to be addressed, and swiftly, before the new scanners are in place.  After all, pilots could be potential terrorists, so if they are to be excused from searches,  this won’t make me feel any more secure.  But our concerns re concentrations of X-rays need to be addressed.

Enhanced by ZemantaThe Dept. Transport needs to realise cancer patients have very real needs and should be offered an alternative to a body scan.

U.S. Immigration procedures causing trouble for cancer survivors

Image by Getty Images via Daylife


If travelling to countries where fingerprint identification is required, particularly the States, and you are on CAPECITABINE (Xeloda), take a letter with you from your Oncologist confirming this.

Similarly,the same if you have a prosthesis (see below).

Roche the makers of Xeloda, say Hand-foot syndrome (HFS) is a known side-effect of a number of cancer treatments, including Xeloda (capecitabine).  It can cause redness, tenderness, and possibly peeling of the palms and soles.

Recently a traveller to the US was held at Immigration for some time, as his fingerprints could not be identified, due to his treatment.  The US Immigration have caused numerous problems to legitimate travellers in the past – so carry a letter with you to show to officials.

Roche says “HFS is manageable, and can be minimised with good patient management”.  Further details on the label, or  contact Roche.


America’s Transportation Security Administration is not noted for customer care, and recently must have issued an order to its stony-faced staff at airports.  All of a sudden, the US press is full of stories about cancer patients being made to remove breast prosthesis at security checks.  See

When I politely check with their press office to see if these stories are true, back comes the usual ‘customer friendly’ response – ‘you can check regulations on TSA website’.

Has no-one told them if you get the public on your side, they are likely to identify terrorists that you might overlook.  I know this is true – one Customs official used to joke every time I went past him  One day I stopped for a chat and mentioned, “hope you don’t think I am stupid, but I saw that man doing something fishy”.  And yes, it was a very nasty character;   shivers run down my spine when I think I would have been too worried about wasting their time,  if I had been checked by a charmless official that day.

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