Health

Recent News in the Dominican Republic Calls For Extra Precaution When Travelling At All Times

It was the shooting of baseball legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz outside a bar in Santo Domingo that brought the issue of mysterious deaths in the Dominican Republic to worldwide attention, but it remains the recent spate of mostly-unsolved and unexplained deaths of American tourists at popular resort hotels that has tourism officials worried about what comes next. (Big Papi is recovering well in a Boston hospital) Though the issue has not captured much attention of Canadian media—which is mystifying as Canadians provide the second largest pool of tourism to the DR next to Americans—print and broadcast media in the US have been asking tough questions about what local tourism officials have characterized as a series of unfortunate coincidences. In one published report, however, the DR’s attorney general Jean Alain Rodriguez told local journalists that the nation is “secure but definitely has many challenges.” Indeed it has. So far this…

Welcome to Canada – A Traveller’s Guide to Staying Safe and Healthy While Visiting Canada

Whether visiting family or friends for a short period, touring the country, or planning to immigrate, visitors to Canada are vulnerable to the costs of the Canadian health care system. According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, Canada receives over 17 million visitors each year, and each one of them should have travel health insurance to protect them against the high costs of health care in Canada. Health Care in Canada is not free! Visitors need to know that foreign insurance plans may not cover Canadian medical costs and most government health insurance plans in countries around the world will not cover accidents or medical emergencies incurred by their residents while travelling in Canada. Canadian provincial health insurance does not cover non-resident visitors, even if they are visiting family – uninsured visitors are expected to pay in full for medical bills incurred in Canada. Also, provincial health care in Canada can…

Hungry for Food Travels?

Among the best reasons to travel is indulging in all sorts of traditional, cultural and exotic foods available around the world. Let us take you on this food journey—we guarantee you’ll want to book your next flight! Home to many Michelin starred restaurants and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, you will find that food in Japan is an art form. Authentic handmade udon and ramen will change your perspective on noodle soup forever, and carefully crafted Japanese sushi is an experience unto itself. Even shopping at the grocery store is fun in Japan, with unique packaging and creatively designed food making each trip a novelty. Tokyo is the eating capital of Japan, with over 160,000 restaurants to choose from—but since restaurants don’t open until 11am, it’s better to space your meals out during the day. Don’t forget to check out the fish markets early in the morning for a new food…

Mental Health Series: The Effects of Bullying on Mental Health

We’re all familiar with the image of “the school bully”: a villainous character that appears in many movies and cartoons. In these media, you often see bullying portrayed as inevitable, a sort of rite of passage that students must pass through on their way to adulthood. In today’s society, however, the idea of bullying as a rite of passage is being steadily challenged. In fact, bullying is not a harmless experience, nor one that “builds character”; research finds that being involved in bullying can have serious consequences on students’ mental health. Unfortunately, bullying is not an uncommon experience in Canada. According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, at least 1 in 3 adolescent students say they have recently been bullied. And among adults in Canada, 38% of men and 30% of women report having been bullied while they were at school. The issue of bullying can also target students…

Mental Health Series: Depression and Anxiety Are on the Rise Among Canadian Students

Students heading into university face a world of new possibilities—but that comes with new challenges too. And in recent years, those challenges have appeared to reach critical mass, with anxiety and depression both on the rise among Canada’s university students. According to a survey of Ontario university students by the American College Health Association, between 2013 and 2016, this student population experienced a 50% increase in anxiety, a 47% increase in depression, and a 47% increase in suicide attempts. And according to a recent report in The Globe and Mail, a fifth of Canadian postsecondary students now report being depressed, anxious, or otherwise struggling with their mental health.

Let’s Talk About It: Chinese International Students and Their Mental Health

The Enticing Opportunities Abroad As the global village becomes more and more tight-knit, students are eager to study abroad for opportunities at foreign institutions and programs of study that are renowned for academic excellence. We found that a very large amount of Chinese students, from primary to post secondary, are choosing to enter the western educational system for better opportunities. In the past few years, there have been over 350,000 Chinese students studying annually in North America. Chinese students are the single largest international student population on most American campuses. But have we ever wondered why the population of Chinese students studying abroad is growing larger every year and if this transition is difficult for them? Or what it’s like for these students to leave their home country and immerse themselves into a new culture, language, and environment—alone? We have found that Chinese parents choose to send their children abroad…

Mental Health: Where can students find support?

Less than three weeks ago, on March 15, hundreds of students from the University of Waterloo walked out of their class to demand better mental health services on campus. Holding placards and chanting, the students each took it in turns to speak about their experiences with the university’s mental health services. Some spoke of long wait times to see a counsellor, while others said they felt “unheard” after meeting them. The protest, organized by the students themselves, was in response to the recent suicide death of a 22-year-old student who took his life at the university’s student residence at the beginning of March. It’s clear that there is a need for increased mental health support, and that applies to all walks of life – not just schools. School can be a difficult time for anyone, especially those travelling abroad to study. A young person is forced out of their…

E-cigarettes: The Rise of Vaping and its Effects on International Students

Are you an international student? Do you smoke e-cigarettes? If you answered yes to both, then it may be time you double-checked the small print on your insurance policy. Many insurance plans do not cover injuries incurred while under the influence of illicit substances, something that is becoming increasingly common to add to e-cigarette devices. E-cigarettes (otherwise known as vapes) became hugely popular in the North American and European markets in 2009, with sales experiencing exponential growth ever since. It’s estimated that Canada has between 308,000 and 946,000 vape users, with numbers steadily climbing each year. Despite many governments around the world—including the US and the European Union—introducing new regulations to govern vaping, there has been a surge in children and young adults who are up the habit. It is believed that today more high school children and college students use e-cigarettes than those who smoke. While some scientists believe…

Mental Health: What it Means for International Students and How You Can Help

Travel blogs and the Instagram community have set a narrative, from the outside at least, that those who live abroad for an extended period of time are extroverts, with a healthy state of mind. This simply isn’t true, and I’m sure many of those bloggers will be the first to admit it. Travelling and studying abroad changes every aspect of a person’s life, and this, whether for better or worse (or both), has an impact on their mental health. Studying abroad takes courage. It requires a young person to jump into the unknown. The reality of studying abroad is that a young adult is taken out of their comfort zone; they are away from their childhood friends, in a different country to their family, and, in many cases, delving into an entirely new way of living and perceiving the world. This adjustment takes time. Those extra pressures are adding to…

Health Care Haggling is Bad for Your Health

If you’re tired of the haggling between health ministry bureaucrats and doctors over fee cuts and health costs, be patient and pay attention. This is more than a ritual dance about money and working conditions. And the haggling does affect you, directly. If you’ve had a harder time getting in to see your doctor in a reasonable time, if you’ve been re-scheduled again and again for an elective (albeit painful) back or hip procedure, or the family physician you have been seeing for 20 years moves away, you’re getting close to the nexus of why these interminable negotiations between the blue suits and the white coats have become so heated. All provinces are strapped by mounting healthcare costs which now consume 40 cents out of every tax dollar you pay. With Canadians enduring ever-longer wait lines for medically-necessary care, with emergency rooms and acute care beds jammed at unsustainable levels,…

More Canadians Than Ever, Wait for Health Care

As provincial premiers wrangle with the Trudeau government over their diminishing share of transfer payments for health care, Canadian patients are being increasingly forced into ever longer waiting lines for medically necessary treatment—many of them leaving the country for care they can’t get at home in what they and their physicians consider a “clinically reasonable” time. It’s a pattern that now appears to be an inherent reality of health care in Canada, one that has exacerbated tensions not only between provincial and federal politicians, but between the professionals responsible for treating patients and their increasing legions of bureaucrats and paymasters. Each year, Canada’s leading independent public policy/healthcare think tank (it accepts no government money), the BC-based Fraser Institute releases an update on the wait times faced by patients for non –emergency (but medically necessary) treatment for conditions that are still painful, possibly debilitating, and sometimes deadly. Wait your turn…

Endless Waiting Lists, Or Medical Free Trade?

Earlier this year, we wrote about the dilemma facing hundreds of thousands of Canadians forced to endure months-long waiting lists for medical care, without which, many would die. This is a devastating prospect in a country that for many decades has prided itself on having a world-class health care delivery system. But as the waiting lists have grown to over 900,000 nationally, and as the average wait times just for an initial visit with a specialist have stretched to eight weeks, there seems little immediate hope for improvement. The latest example: according to a recent investigative report in the Toronto Star, the Ontario health ministry has approved $100 million in funding to send 202 people to hospitals in Cleveland, Buffalo, and Detroit to receive allogeneic transplants to treat various cancer and blood disorders they can’t get treated in the province. Allogeneic transplants involve collecting stem cells from matching donors and…

Travel Smart: Plan Ahead for Your Health

There’s a lot to think about when you’re planning a trip: where to go, where to stay, and what to pack. What you may be forgetting, though, is your health. Did you get the necessary immunizations? Do you have enough prescription medications to last you the entire length of your stay? Did you buy travel health insurance? These questions and others should be an essential part of the planning process. Here are a few health issues to consider when you are planning your trip abroad. Health care coverage abroad Your provincial health plan offers limited health coverage while you are out of your home province, so you will need to check the details of your province’s health plan to find out exactly how you are covered. As a general rule, provincial plans cover you only for medically necessary services, which include health care provided in hospitals and care provided…

Contemplating Medical Tourism? Weigh Your Options Wisely

Travelling abroad to receive faster, cheaper treatment seems to be a growing trend in Canada. Approximately twenty medical tourism companies are currently operating across the country, most providing options for elective surgeries, such as knee or hip replacements, cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgery, or transplants. But what makes people consider getting care abroad? They may wish to bypass long wait times, save money for elective surgeries that would not be covered by provincial health care, or even access new treatments that are not yet offered in Canada. Whatever the reason, or no matter how great the benefits, Canadians must understand the importance of doing their research and making an informed decision before considering health care abroad! Who would be providing your care? Canadian health providers are well aware of the consequences they face if they harm a patient, practise beyond the scope of their knowledge, or are negligent. They are…

What to Do If You Are Ill or Injured while Travelling Abroad

Travelling abroad can be a thrilling experience, filled with new people, unique foods, and beautiful sights. But if you find yourself facing a medical emergency in an unfamiliar area, the experience can become overwhelming or downright scary! Still, there’s no need to cancel your trip for fear of falling ill. Keep reading to learn what to do if the unexpected occurs, and find various resources should you need the extra help. Before you leave for your trip In addition to getting your vaccinations and purchasing the right travel insurance, you should always check to see if any travel health notices exist for your destination country. These notices are provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and are updated regularly. You should also check if there are any travel reports or warnings for the area you will be travelling to. You may also want to consider registering for the…

Travelling within Canada: Your Out-of-Province Health Coverage

If you get sick while travelling within Canada, it’s generally pretty easy to receive immediate medical attention without having to foot the bill. The reason is that all of the provinces and territories, except Quebec, signed an Interprovincial Billing Agreement under which the host province agrees to cover the cost of any medically necessary service provided and subsequently bill the home province for reimbursement. That being said, there are certain differences to your coverage when you travel outside of your home province. Understanding these differences can help you avoid having to pay unnecessary expenses. What is and isn’t covered out of province? In accordance with the Canada Health Act, medically necessary health care services are typically covered when travelling within Canada. In other words, if you become ill or have an accident in another province, your hospital and physician services will likely be covered. However, additional services, such as…

Are Canadian Doctors Really Pillaging Health Care Coffers?

The current tension between the Government of Ontario and its doctors over what is or isn’t a fair “wage” is yet another chapter in a long saga documenting the political truth that when government is the paymaster, it has the right to call the tune. But the melody is wearing thin. To refresh myself on this long narrative, I revisited my own files to stories I wrote in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, for the Canadian Medical Association Journal and The Medical Post on the protracted fee schedule negotiation between not only the Ontario Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association but also similar combatants in most other provinces. And the story line then, as it is now, was that the more money the province (that’s you) paid doctors, the less it had to pay for other key health care services—new hospitals, more beds, newer technology, more technicians, and…

The Aedes Mosquito: Carrier of More Than Just Zika

Short read: Zika Virus: What You Need to Know Introduction As Zika continues to spread, doctors and scientists have officially concluded that a causal relationship exists between pregnant women infected with Zika and microcephaly appearing in newborns (in addition to other brain anomalies).[1] Belize, Saint Lucia, and Vietnam are the latest countries to experience their first locally acquired cases. Meanwhile, Panama has recently announced its first case of microcephaly potentially linked to Zika, and Brazil is continuing to experience large-scale transmission of the virus, with a significant increase in cases of newborns suffering from microcephaly. And Colombia is experiencing an uptick in Zika cases, with the rainy season (i.e., more mosquitoes) just around the corner. Spread of Zika Image source: WHO But Zika is not the only mosquito-borne virus of global concern. In this article, we trace the epidemiology (spread) of two similar arboviruses—dengue, and chikungunya—and…

Skipping Canada’s Medical Wait List? Here’s the Costs.

One of the most daunting challenges facing Canadians distressed by unreasonably long waiting lists for medical care at home is the cost of seeking it abroad, without any help from the government health insurance they have been paying into their whole working lives. True, in some cases provincial governments will pay for, or perhaps subsidize, pre-authorized medically necessary services in the United States that are not available at home in a “reasonable” time. But who can tell what is reasonable to someone struggling physically and emotionally with cancer or an unresolved cardiovascular or musculoskeletal condition? As we have reported in previous articles, roughly 900,000 Canadians are waitlisted, with their average waiting time just to see a specialist at over 18 weeks. Most will simply have to endure, since going abroad for medical care is expensive. There is no way to sugar coat that fact. But is it always an insurmountable…

New Year, New Flu

Though a bit later than usual, the cold and flu season is back! And since freezing temperatures mean we are more likely to stay indoors, the flu virus gets a chance to spread quickly. Sure, the flu can be a nuisance, but it can also be very serious and should not be underestimated. Each year in Canada, influenza causes 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths. Luckily there is a vaccine to protect us from this disease, and it’s not too late to get it. In addition to the flu vaccine, the Government of Canada also recommends you take the following measures to protect yourself and those around you against the flu: Wash your hands frequently. (If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer and keep a small bottle handy for easy access. And don’t be shy—use as often as needed.) Cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm,…

Canadians Looking Abroad for Health Care: Part 2

Last week we reported on the Fraser Institute’s 2015 survey showing that increasing numbers of Canadians, fed up waiting for medically necessary, non-emergency health care services at home, were looking to foreign hospitals—primarily in the US—for quicker solutions. If you are one of the more than 900,000 Canadians wait-listed for a medical procedure (or if you haven’t yet even made the list), you might want to explore the international option. But we caution you, this is not a game for amateurs. You should seek help. You’re not shopping at a U.S. BestBuy for a 72-inch 4K television… Your first step to seeking health care abroad should be your own physician—your family doctor, or your specialist, if you have already endured that wait. Canadian physicians have good contacts with their U.S. peers; many have gone to school together, done internships or residencies in the same hospitals, or perhaps have already made…

3 Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

When summer rolls around, most of us head outdoors, but even though sunshine can do wonders for our mood, it can also cause serious damage to our health. After a long, cold winter, what is a sun lover to do? Follow these 3 simple tips for staying safe in the sun! Apply the right sunscreen. Make sure you are using a high enough SPF—SPF 15 for your daily routine and SPF 30 if you’re taking part in outdoor activities. Many people forget to apply a new coat after a few hours in the sun or a dip in the water—make a habit of reapplying after two to three hours outside in the sun or if you get wet. Don’t forget to apply to those often forgotten spots: your ears, your hands (make sure not to wash them right after applying), your feet, and your lips (use lip balm with SPF).…

Eat Like an Athlete During This Summer’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games #TO2015

Want to eat like a Pan Am athlete this summer? Athletes largely depend on the quality of their food to ensure they are receiving the top nutrients to keep them strong and energized for training and competition. How can you eat like an athlete? Eat at locally from your farmers market! No matter where you are, urban or rural, there are many options available to get the freshest and healthiest options. Check out our post on eating locally and living well for more information on how to eat like an athlete!

Ready, Set…Visit! Why Visitors to Canada Need Travel Health Insurance at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games #TO2015

Canada welcomes visitors from around the world, but not their medical bills. Did you know that visitors from other countries are not covered under the Canadian provincial health care system and neither are Canadians travelling outside of their resident provinces. It’s frightening to think that if something were to happen to you while visiting one of the largest sports events in the world, you would be vulnerable to the high costs of Canadian medical and assistance services—but no need to fear! There’s a very simple and cost-effective solution: Visitors to Canada insurance! What would you do if your luggage got lost or stolen? Canada is one of the safest countries in the world for travel, but with thousands of people coming and going, the risk is still present. Visitor to Canada insurance covers lost or stolen baggage, protecting your belongings during your travels. Many of the Pan Am competition venues…

Canada Welcomes Visitors, But Not Their Health Bills: What You Need to Know to Make Sure Your Visitors Are Insured

Toronto, Canada – From the Rockies to the Red River, it’s springtime in Canada, and that means an influx of visitors from around the world. According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, Canada received over 17 million visitors in 2014, and each one was vulnerable to the costs of the Canadian health care system. “Health care in Canada is expensive,” says Robin Ingle, Chairman of travel and health insurance group Ingle International. “There are common misconceptions about the Canadian health care system and what it will and won’t cover—a non-resident visitor can expect to pay up to $5,000 per day in a hospital and double that for the intensive care unit,” explains Ingle. Ingle defines a visitor as anyone visiting from another country, new immigrants, and returning Canadians. All visitors within these categories require travel and health insurance while in Canada, and it is up to them to make appropriate arrangements prior…

Staying Healthy Abroad: Frequently Asked Questions by International Students

At Ingle International, the only thing we love as much as international travel is international education! And that’s why we believe that studying abroad is one of the best choices you can make for your future. There’s nothing like immersing yourself in another culture as a way to enrich yourself (and it might even make you smarter!). Of course, when you’re out having the adventure of a lifetime, the last thing you want to do is worry about your health. That’s why we developed Study Insured, our resource for international students with questions about their health, safety, and insurance needs while away from home. Have questions about studying abroad? Read on for the answers! I want to study or work abroad. Where do I begin? On Study Insured’s blog, our staff members reflect on their own study-abroad experiences and share advice for first-timers.  This post will guide you through…

Do You Need to See a Doctor? A Helpful Guide

No one wants to get sick when they’re far away from home—but the reality is, when you’re an international student who’s living abroad for a long period of time, there’s a good chance you’ll need to see a doctor at some point. That’s why we’re committed to providing international students in Canada with the best quality health insurance they can get. But that’s just the first step. Even when you’re studying in Canada with the right insurance coverage, falling ill for the first time can be scary. You may not know what to expect when you visit a Canadian doctor. You may not be sure how to prepare. Or you may have questions about where you should go—the clinic or the emergency room? Don’t worry—Ingle is here to help! Check out our “Do You Need to See a Doctor?” resource page for the answers to your questions. You can also watch…

Planning a Skiing or Snowboarding Trip? How to Prevent Costly Medical Bills

Not all winter vacations include a beach, the ocean, and rum cocktails. There are many ways to travel and enjoy activities during winter weather, too, including skiing, snowboarding, skating, and sledding. While winter activities can be exhilarating, they can also result in a whole range of injuries such as sprains, strains, dislocations, fractures, or worse. Whether you’re travelling to Colorado or France, a sport injury outside of Canada can end up costing you thousands of dollars. More than 5,600 Canadians are injured during winter sport activities every year, with skiing as the number one cause of injury, followed by snowboarding, skating, sledding, and snowmobiling. The knee is the most common victim of these injuries. What’s more, a visit to the emergency room can cost up to $1,500, not including the treatment required for an injury. So how can you protect yourself in case of any mishaps on the slopes? Staying…

4 Tips for Battling the Cold

For most Canadians, it’s been a fairly mild start to the winter. However, for people who only know the winter months above the freezing point on the thermometer, even a mild Canadian winter can feel like a deep freeze. As temperatures begin to plummet in the coming weeks, it’s imperative for your health and safety to know how to handle these cold Canadian temperatures. Here are five tips to help you battle the cold this winter! Stay active It’s so easy to cuddle up under a warm blanket all day or night. Resist the urge for at least an hour and do something active. Hot yoga will guarantee a sweat, or you can try hopping on a treadmill, using an elliptical, or lifting weights. Join a class doing an activity you enjoy. If the temperature isn’t too cold, enjoy the outdoors by walking, skating, or tobogganing. It may seem…

Don’t Fear American Hospitals—Even in the Age of Ebola

As Canadian snowbirds start their annual migration from the snowbelt to the sunbelt, the emergence of Ebola and the ability of American hospitals to deal with this lethal disease are legitimate concerns, even though the number of patients treated in the US is minuscule. You can still count the “positives” on one hand. To date, hospitals in Texas, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Maine have treated or diagnosed patients suspected of infection, or health care workers who have treated Ebola patients—most of whom have tested negative for the virus. But even with those small numbers, hospitals across the county have been forced to evaluate their infection control protocols in case the unimaginable happens. And that’s a good thing. It may sound ironic, but the easiest place to contract viral, bacterial, or fungal infectious diseases is in hospitals. Related: Ebola: Deadly, but Avoidable One of the worst of these infections…

Is Your High Blood Pressure Being Overtreated?

If you’re taking medications to control high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about what he or she considers “high,” especially if you are a snowbird whose eligibility for travel insurance may depend on the number and types of medications you take.

Studying Abroad: Evaluating a Prospective Student’s Mental Health

When screening students for study abroad programs, it is important for you to ensure they have the capability to manage the challenges of their new life abroad. An inability to adapt to a new environment can result in a student feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and even guilty. For students with mental health issues that are not stabilized or have yet to be addressed, the additional pressures could worsen their health. Access to a psychiatric history is often not available when screening students for school placements. Sometimes students may not even realize they have a problem. In these scenarios, there are questions you can ask to get a sense of whether the student may be at risk for a mental health issue and if the symptoms would interfere with their ability to prosper in a study abroad program, far away from the comforts of home. Before you start asking questions, take a…

Fun in the Sun, Safe in the Sun

Canadians can’t get enough of patio weather! When summer rolls around, most of us head outdoors to play sports, get a tan, enjoy the warmth, or stock up on vitamin D. But even though sunshine can do wonders for our mood, it can also cause serious damage to our health. So, after a long, cold winter, what is a sun lover to do?

Take Good Care of the Windows to Your Soul

We all know that good health is important. More and more, Canadians are trying to exercise regularly and make healthier food choices. But we tend to forget about eye health since, for many of us, seeing comes naturally. May is Vision Health Month—a great time to think about check-ups, healthy eyes, and vision loss prevention.

Medical Repatriation to Canada? Not So Fast

One of the most valued benefits provided by Canadian travel insurers is repatriation by air: flying seriously ill patients to hospitals close to home, where they can be attended by their own physicians, supported by their families and, not inconsequentially, have their provincial health plan pay the bills. That’s the plan anyway—but given a chronic shortage of acute care hospital beds in most Canadian provinces, the “plan” too often turns into a wish list, with ailing patients, anxious families, and frustrated assistance professionals working their phones and emails to try to pin down an available bed somewhere close to the patient’s home. This is no job for amateurs. In the meantime, we see some of Canada’s largest, most prestigious hospitals promoting their services (and beds) to foreign patients willing to pay the price of admission to what they believe (quite accurately) is world-class medical care. Related: Young Vacationer Stranded: No Insurance According…