However there a is rarely mentioned increasingly new super class of scum that few see but who make the lives of their customers, GPs and their staff a misery in their pursuit of self interested greed. These are the sellers and administrators of travel insurance.
For the vast majority of the British public there is an assumption that as we have a free healthcare service at home then if we go abroad everyone will speak English and give us free healthcare in the same way that we do to foreign nationals unlucky enough to fall ill in the UK.
Healthcare after all costs us nothing, we’ve paid our taxes, so your average UK Joe the Moron will happily accept "free "holiday insurance sold to them by a Chantelle who might even have an NVQ but who is more likely is after commission. So Joe thinks I have paid for my (National Insurance) and had to pay EXTRA for my free health insurance and so I am well covered.
How wrong Joe the UK Moron is. When you purchase travel insurance in the UK you pay for nothing more than a maybe or "on a promise".
Let us fast forward to when Joe the UK Moron needs to claim on Moron Insurance abroad. Joe assumes that healthcare abroad is the same as that which Joe abuses in this country namely the NHS. When Joe lands up in a hospital, which he does not have to pay for at home, he assumes that he can walk into any hospital in the world with whatever crap he has and it is paid for by the State. It will cost Joe nothing.
For the first time in their life any British subject who falls ill overseas is presented with a bill for their healthcare. Joe the Moron is disgusted for Joe the Moron UK suddenly discovers that there is someone that costs more than he can rip off his customers back home.
Joe’s healthcare at home is free, he pays his taxes and fiddles a lot of them too, but he never charges this much to fix a minor problem like a sprained ankle caused by falling off a kerb after his “free” 18 pints of lager.
Joe and his family are mortified for the £ 200 for all eight of them to go abroad for 2 weeks which they thought was extortionate is now a £ 20,000 bill for his fractured ankle and repatriation costs home as he cannot now walk. He, as a plumber, will earn that in a week if he rips off his customers.
However, Joe being a patient of the NHS, knows that anything he does wrong, is never Joe’s fault. The NHS will pay for it no questions asked. The locals dial “999” and Joe sees a “doctor” who just happens to be a private doctor who admits Joe to a private hospital. Joe is happy at this point for he has got what all “Joes” in the UK pay for namely free healthcare. Joe also has an E111 aka a European Healthcard.
At this point Joe is now a prisoner in his holiday hospital and despite his fluent use of the language called f**k, healthcare, unbeknown to Joe, the extortionist plumber, is not cheap.
So Joe, or his family, ring their insurance company not knowing that any alcohol related injury will be excluded from the generous healthcare cover provided by their “free” health insurance in contrast to Joe’s NHS cover.
Joe’s GP, and their staff, are not on holiday and are busily seeing loads of Joes, none of whom are as “ill” as Joe is. For Joe is suffering from a case of self inflicted severe financial distress syndrome which is never Joes’s fault.
While they struggle to cope with the daily tide of wellness Joe’s Practice will, within an hour of Joe, or his relatives, ringing their insurance company have received 3 “Urgent” faxes from Joe’s travel insurance company and a couple of phone calls too. This is before Joe’s UK GP has even finished their morning surgery. But Joe’s “healthcare” from the insurance industry’s point of view is now “URGENT”.
These requests are not for Joe’s medical bills to be paid. They are in fact for the complete opposite.
The faxes will say via a standard letter telling us that “in order to ensure Joe gets treated” we need medical information “to help the doctors treating Joe” (even if Joe is dead) and oh yes the “doctors” treating Joe just happen to “need . . . the last 3-5 years of Joe’s past medical history for a sprained ankle.”
Nothing wrong with that you might think except that these letters are often faxed with the patients having already been treated, waiting in a hospital unable to go home until their medical bills are paid and Joe, and his family are being repeatedly hassled for this payment. The consent to disclosure of medical records may well have been forged too
The travel insurance industry in the UK are manipulators par excellence for they sell “promises”, sorry insurance, to punters who only when they claim realise the “promise” element of what they have “purchased”.
The travel insurance industry are scum for they feel they can bombard the patient’s GP with faxes and phone calls to “help Joe” which are nothing to do with healthcare. They are purely doing this as part of their “claims verification procedure”, their words not ours, in other words trying to avoid paying anything out at all hence the urgency of their requests to "help" Joe.
A few years ago we discovered the extent to which the holiday insurance industry would go to avoid paying out and as a result we decided that in the same way that the travel insurance industry considers itself to be a charity and as such charges for its charitable services we would start doing the same.
Being scum they have shown their true colours. Despite requesting 5 years worth of medical records photocopied and faxed, completion of forms 3 A4 sides long which involves a doctor going through a patient's entire medical history to answer their specific questions, they demand all of this from UK GPs for no charge.
They instead tell patients that “their GP is holding up their relative’s treatment abroad” and advise relatives “to apply pressure on GPs”. Remember Joe is treated at this point.
They forget that the responsibility for healthcare of UK Nationals abroad is NOT that of their GPs in the UK. It is that of the country in which they are resident. However, the travel insurance industry also forget that they might just have a contractual agreement to fund these patients’ care. They have a contract which is between the travel insurance company and Joe and to which we as GPs DID NOT sign up to.
A few quids worth of abusive phone calls to GPs and their staff could save the UK travel insurance industry thousands and cost our patients thousands.
And what is worse if, a request for payment from a travel insurance company from a GP for what is after all NOT NHS work (remember who is responsible for patients ill abroad?) which is very time consuming, and may ultimately be of no benefit to the patient, the travel insurance industry will insist that the RELATIVES pay the GP for the information requested by the travel insurance companies for their "claims verification procedure", sorry, “to help the doctors treating Joe”.
This shows how low the travel insurance industry goes. They charge you a fee for a “service”, which when you need it, they will then happily charge you another fee for information THEY need, to see if what you thought you had bought you can actually have. If you are lucky you can reclaim the costs for Joe’s doctor’s non NHS work for the travel insurance industry’s attempt to avoid paying their insured, the patient, anything.
If your claim is rejected, not only do you pay for insurance that doesn’t pay out, but you also pay your doctor for information that the insurance industry wants to shaft your claim for they insist that you do so. And then you pay for your healthcare on top. In these circumstances, the insurance industry, sometimes, very generously pays you your original premium back. £ 40 for a £ 20,000 claim they are true humanitarian saints.
Excellent shaft guys. Is that why all the abusive phone calls we get from your staff sound like they are from those who previously worked for the Taliban where medical care was considered heresy?
Only go abroad if you have a spare million and have never seen a doctor with anything in your life. Otherwise you gamble your financial future and that of your family. An extreme case of caveat emptor?
It is bad enough to be ill in a foreign country where you may not speak the language or know the system but don’t worry those who you have paid to help you will ensure that things WILL get worse.
Praise be to the Party for institutionalizing commercial shafting. And they get away with it year on year.