It is quite easy. If you can’t afford a global health insurance then you should not even consider to travel! Latest with the coronavirus COVID-19 people should look at a reliable global health insurance.
Do you need Global Health Insurance?
I still can’t believe that I met some travelers during my world trip who decided not to have a global health insurance during their travels. Let me give you some examples why I believe you MUST have one!
Coronavirus COVID-19 and Global Health Insurance
Who could have imagined that COVID-19, a corona virus is in the position to paralyse the whole world?! At the time of the outbreak I was just about to set up my new life in Valencia in Spain and did not really pay a lot of attention to the media. I mean come on… I survived the bird flu and the swine flu and other viruses. Could this COVID-19 virus be any worse? I should have known better!
Already back in 2009 I was sitting under quarantine in Shanghai’s China when the swine flu caused dramatic measures by the Chinese government. On my flight to China I was sitting of course next to a guy who had fever and caused half the air plane to be put under quarantine – luckily just for one day and one night but it was no fun as I can tell.
Before landing in Shanghai the board crew went through the passengers to check the body temperature and of course they got suspicious when recording the record high of my neighbour. They repeated the measurement several times, first they put on their masks, then the gloves and eventually later on full body protective gear. I felt like one of the main actors of the movie “outbreak”. When we landed they took away our passports and brought us somewhere to the country side where a sh*** hotel got transformed into a hospital / prison. The windows were fixed with nails and the doors closed with locks. No way to escape… no one spoke english… and no one had a clue what would be happening next. Luckily as already mentioned it took only one day and one night. I used the time to cure my jetlag and to avoid the reality.
That was back in 2009!
Today is the year 2020 and it was not the swine flu but COVID-19. Latest when some coworkers of my coworking place got the Corona virus and the complete building had to be shut down and disinfected over the weekend I got seriously concerned. In one week I was about to fly to my parents to celebrate my moms 70th birthday. I heard that the incubation time of the Corona virus might be up to 2 weeks (or even longer than that) and I could have potentially be affected as well. I did not want to take the risk of passing on the silent disease to my parents!
To be honest with you, I was very concerned! I wanted to make sure I was ok and went to the next doctor around my corner but I was ignored by the receptionists referring me to a COVID-19 hotline which was impossible to get through. The Spanish health care system was not prepared for this crisis situation!
Luckily, I still had my international health insurance from FGH and decided to give them a call. Immediately, the friendly support agent realised the importance of the matter and put me in touch with one of their “telephone doctors”. The doctor consulted me on my current health situation and possible next steps in order to assess my state of health. I also received a list of hospitals which were close by in case of an emergency. Bottomline, without a test I could not be sure to take the flight and spread the disease.
FGH, its fast reacting customer service and the competent opinion of its telephone doctor calmed me down. They helped me to take a more profound decision of not taking my flight – even though I could not visit my parents and missed the 70th birthday of my mom but it might have saved their lives. As harsh as it might sound! After all, I did not catch the virus and was sad about the situation but very glad I made the decision!
Motorcycle Accident in Laos
Anticipation is everything when you travel, and believe me I have a vivid imagination, but things where close to getting much worse than I had ever imagined. A rather stupid accident was really close to cause severe consequences.
Just before entering Luang Prabang in Laos, on a small motorcycle, the rain coat I had bought a couple of hours ago got stuck in the chain and consequently chocked me almost to death. The coat pulled me backwards, I heard my spine cracking a few times too many, and fell off my motorcycle.
It felt like the world stopped spinning and seconds became an eternity. I saw my life passing in front of my eyes and thought I would never be able to walk again. At the time, I traveled with my former partner who immediately stopped to help me getting back on my feet. Luckily, I could still walk and after a while I could even ride my motorcycle to the next accommodation.
Since it was impossible to sleep properly due to strong back pain I decided to visit a doctor and after researching on google the “best” option I went straight to the local hospital. I received medical treatment, an X-ray as well as muscle relaxant and pain relief medication.
I was relieved I did not break anything but it was time to take a break from traveling, I mean what other alternative did I have? Recovering for two weeks in a resort a bit out of town, I was fortunate to continue my travels again without lasting issues.
Motorcycle Accident in Bolivia, 2 Bee Stings and Food Poisoning / or -Intolerance
I almost made it to San Ignacio in Bolivia (North East of Santa Cruz de la Sierra) that day and thought already about enjoying an ice cold beer at the hotel bar. 30 minutes before arriving in town I was too confident and drove too fast into a curve. I did not see a deep patch of sand in the middle of the road coming up and could not react anymore. Driving directly through the difficult terrain, my bike got out of line and straight into very deep sand at the side of the road. I could not do anything anymore and saw the crash literally coming…
I was driving around 50 – 60 km/h when I hit the ground. Ready to impact, I was bracing myself, took a deep breath and contracted all my muscles in a natural reflex. The bike was almost falling on me and the visor of my helmet said “hello” to the ground, leaving some ugly scratches behind.
I immediately knew that I had to react since my petrol containers might have been damaged and leaking petrol. This was fortunately not the case but the wind shield and the headlight protector got totally smashed, leaving just some broken pieces behind. Furthermore, the support of the side panniers which I just repaired two days ago got totally deformed due to the heavy impact.
I urgently had to fix them in San Ignacio… Luckily I was watching a Youtube video regarding special lifting techniques on how to pick up heavy bikes and surprisingly managed to put “Fury” back on his wheels (I guess the adrenaline was helping too). I pushed the bike off the road since I knew that trucks would be driving way too fast on this “highway of hell“.
While collecting the broken pieces, I saw a car coming by and by surprise I met again the Brazilian father and his son who I met in the morning at the same hotel in San Matias, doing a road trip together. They stopped immediately and were giving me first aid, some pain killers, muscle relaxing agents, cold water and a patch on the back (the father also had an accident a while ago and suffered even more pain. He gave me his last doses which brought me pain-free to my final destination).
Not enough that I had an accident, a black wasp was flying into my jacket and stung me two times into my neck. Great, what a day!!!!!! Pumped up with adrenaline, I removed my clothes in order to see if I might be more seriously injured. Luckily I only had a couple of bruises at my shoulder, scratches at my elbow and leg, a bit blood but nothing really serious.
The two guys offered me a lift into town which I refused but not before checking the engine still runs which was gladly the case. I got hit by reality and thousands of thoughts were running through my mind, what in case this would have ended more seriously and in a remote area with no-one but me. I guess, this was also the reason why I wanted to make my way to San Ignacio myself, just to proof I can do it without the help of others.
I was astonishingly in a good shape and decided to treat me well for the next two days and stayed in a comfortable hotel, called the Mision. An amazing hotel with a swimming pool in the middle of the courtyard, simply a perfect place for recovering.
In the evening, I decided to go into town where hundreds of people were celebrating their country’s national day. A good opportunity to eat some street food and I went to a popular burger place as it seemed. Since I was really hungry I ordered two burgers and ate them with pleasure. Back in the hotel I went immediately to bed since I was literally dead.
I did not know what was waiting for me next. The nightmare of this day just did not find an end and a few hours later, I woke up in the middle of the night. My stomach in terrible pain and my hands and feet itchy like hell. I urgently had to go to the bathroom… The next moment later my whole body started to get extremely itchy and sweat was running down my body like the Iguacu waterfalls. I felt miserable and wanted to die!
I got up and saw a sick man in the mirror with red eyes and now also itchy and thick lips… I realised I had a serious food poisoning and was looking for my medication which I could not find immediately. I could not stand up very long anymore before it knocked me out and I was laying on the floor… resting there for a couple of minutes I got luckily slowly better again. I took a shower and fell into bed again. What a nightmare!!!!! What a horrible and unfortunate day!!!!!!
Before starting my motorcycle adventure I had somehow the inner need to have a last travel consulting and check up by a medical doctor. Since I was reading lately a lot about altitude sickness I was a bit worried and just wanted to make sure. Better safe than sorry! Certainly my adventure would lead me to the Andes, a mountain region with an average height of 4’000 m I was never experiencing before. After researching on the world wide web and some Facebook groups in Sao Paulo I found the contact details of a German speaking GP, located just a 30 minutes walk away from my compound. Luckily, Dr Karl had a time slot within a few days available and on Saturday I went for a nice sunny morning walk to see the…
God in White
When I opened the door to the doctor’s office a ceramic was welcoming me in German “Herzlich Willkommen”. I felt like being home and everyone must have heard my weight falling off my shoulders. The friendly assistant was recording my personal data and just after 5 minutes a man with white beard and white coat came around the corner. “Hallo mein Name ist Dr Karl, komm bitte mit”. I was delighted!
Calm like a rock in the sea he was listening to my plans and gave me highly valuable recommendations and medicine I could possibly take, just in case.
One medicine he could not prescribe… an excellent suggestion for the case of an emergency situation… A “Signalisador” or a signal gun. Excellent… While I thought my shopping list was ticked off, another important item had just been added.
Dr Karl went himself already to Argentina in order to explore the rough and beautiful geographical landscape with a 4×4. Certainly he was also interested in studying the effects of altitude on himself and his friends. As a GP he was in particular interested in the development of the oxygen content with varying altitude levels. One of his friend’s values was so low that he would have linked him anywhere else to an oxygen supply machine, he said 😀
After asking me if I would be traveling with someone else I explained to ride the first couple of months solo while my girlfriend joining later on in the year. He just smiled and commented… like a “Steppenwolf”. Every adventure deserves a name and suddenly “Operation Steppenwolf” was born.
Just when I was about to leave he gave me his contact details and offered me to be his personal “travel doctor” and available for consultation upon request 😀
What a great adventure traveler and doctor… Thank you Dr Karl for this great travel consulting and medical check up! Muito Obrigado!
Prescription & Medication Coverage
After receiving the huge list of medication (basically anything from headache to worst case scenario) I went to the next pharmacy to tick off another item on my travel planing list. The consulting and medication costs were luckily immediately covered by my global health insurance.