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Learn a lesson from the $170,000 snake bite

(NC) Canadian biologist, Jared Hobbs, learned the hard way that an encounter with a Black-tailed Rattlesnake can have extreme financial implications. He was vacationing in Arizona earlier this year and stopped at a rock formation when he spied the snake in question—but by then it was too late.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for Jared, he recognized the species of snake and knew that he had to go for immediate medical attention, or risk an amputated limb. He was transported to a community hospital and finally airlifted to the Tucson University Medical Research Hospital where he was treated by a top anti-venom specialist.

“The quality of care I received was exceptional,” said Jared. “But even with my travel health insurance policy, I started to worry about the mounting medical expenses when I had to be airlifted to a larger medical centre. I called my provider and was reassured that all my medical expenses were covered by my policy.”

At the end of the two-day ordeal, the total medical bill exceeded $170,000. The existing policy covered all associated medical expenses directly with the health care providers.

“The United States has one of the world's most expensive medical systems and only 6 per cent of Canadians realize that provincial health programs cover only around 9 per cent of out-of-country medical costs,” says John Thain, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA). “Everyone deserves to have a carefree holiday and this kind of insurance is designed to pay for unexpected medical expenses and the cost of a policy is relatively small.”

A recent THIA survey revealed that 35 per cent of Canadian travellers do not buy travel health insurance and that 59 per cent would pay whatever necessary for medical treatment. Only 28 per cent of respondents correctly identified $10,000 as the average cost of treating a fracture in the U.S. And, more than 65 per cent of respondents indicated that unforeseen medical expenses of $5,000 or greater would represent a financial crisis.

“Travel health insurance should be as essential as a passport for today's travellers,” Thain points out. “Many people will already have some coverage through employers or credit cards, but it's important to understand what you don't have.”

Thain recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:

Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions

Know your trip: How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year?

Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance companies have staff available to answer any questions

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