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The tragic importance of good medical insurance - a story

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by JL48, May 22, 2019.

  1. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

  2. Louise1139

    Louise1139 New commenter

    It’s a sad story but not actually the school’s fault.

    I checked my current and prospective very decent medical insurance policies after reading this a few days ago and both list horse-riding under the exclusions section along with various other high risk activities. It’s a sobering reminder that we should all be aware of this. And also that repatriation to our “home” countries is unlikely to be covered by our medical insurance in our countries of residence.
    towncryer and Mr_Frosty like this.
  3. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Decent schools have great medical coverage, and will cover a hell of a lot. It can really show the level of your school by the level of insurance they provide. Make sure though you actually read the policy.

    I have has 4 operations totally paid for to correct terrible mistakes the NHS made. This was done on various schools policies. I got to choose which country i had the operations in. Not all international schools are created equally
    JL48 likes this.
  4. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    The health insurance they provide doesn't cover their teachers if they fall off a horse (and presumably a camel.) Not an unlikely activity in the Middle East. When I was working out that way, both schools I worked for took their new teachers out on horse / camel rides in the 'welcome' week with new staff.

    If a school is skimping on paying for adequate health insurance, it should be named and shamed. No one should be trapped in country with a £60k bill after falling off a horse because their health insurance doesn't cover the hospital bills.
  5. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    I was really surprised to find out that some schools' medical insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions. That immediately rules out these schools for me, as I have an ongoing condition which doesn't cause me any issues in my day to day life but I need annual checkups and permanent medication for it, which would become very expensive if I had to pay for it all myself. I wonder how many people are caught out by this, if they don't read (or don't have the opportunity to read) the small print of the medical insurance info before accepting a post.
    I probably wouldn't have realised, if I hadn't had offers from 2 schools in the same week and I'd liked both of them, so I was absolutely scrutinising all of the info I had to help me decide between them and it happened that one of them had given me a copy of the medical insurance policy which said pre-existing conditions weren't covered. The other school had just told me the name of the insurance but hadn't given me any details, but provided this when I emailed them to ask for it. That school's insurance covered everything, and ultimately that was what led me to take the job there. Both of them are considered Tier 1 schools with good packages, so it's not like one was a dodgy outfit compared to the other.
  6. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    My every sympathy for the individual involved in this situation.

    A good example why we should all read the medical insurance documentation provided. Maybe worthwhile schools getting a staff to sign the medical insurance policies to say they have read the documents just like a contract and handbook, incase of disputes.

    Since I use to partake in various activities such as scuba diving and rock climbing I check the small print in the schools insurance policy. I soon discovered that the schools policy did not fully protect me and I paid a surcharge of 75USD to cover the costs of injury and helicopter ambulance while doing such activities. Parachuting was not considered dangerous and had no additional cost!

    Horse riding is infact one of the most dangerous activities in the UK killing or seriously injuring one rider a day
  7. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    Pre-existing conditions is, as someone else said, highly important, particularly for some of who are a little older. Again, mine causes me no issues on a daily basis, but it could be considered to be the trigger for all kinds of major problems later. I too turned down a post because their insurance wouldn’t have covered it.
  8. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    I don't really see how it's the insurance company's fault. They would have stated in their policy documentation that they don't cover high risk activities

    I do feel very sorry for the teacher though as we've all overlooked such things and made assumptions. I have no real idea of the fine details of my car insurance. I just assume
    towncryer likes this.
  9. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    When the overweight pachyderm applied for a teaching job at what was the plural garden implement school in the UAE, I was told at the interview that our medical insurance cover was "excellent" and "comprehensive". Once we got to RAK, we discovered that the school's medical cover was wonderful, as long as you do not actually need to make a claim. Then we discovered that there was an exclusion clause for this, that, something else and another thing as well.

    In Qatar, I had the misfortune to teach at one of Madam A***'s rotten apple schools. The good news was that when my wife and both had some serious surgery, we received very good care and it did not cost us a penny.

    As for february31st's assertion that horse riding is a very dangerous activity in the UK, I would say that teaching in the UK also has its dangerous.

    I haven't read my car insurance policy, T0nyGT, because it is printed in Bulgarian.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    snitzelvonkrumm likes this.
  10. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I feel very bad for the teacher in this situation, but it’s not a reflection on the school. Riding is a high risk activity (even if it’s common) and is often excluded from insurance policies. Even from good policies.
    My school’s policy covers us each up to six million euros. It also covers repatriation and preexisting conditions. Covers pretty much everything, really. But not high risk activities.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    Mr_Frosty likes this.
  11. sharon52

    sharon52 New commenter

    I had an hip replacement 6 months ago I was in a 5* hospital I called it a hotel.... I had the best care I have ever experienced, the insurance company rep visited me every day to make sure I was being treated correctly .... The surgeon is world class ...... It cost me less that 500 pounds ... oh and I had a 1500 tax rebate !!!! I can honestly say the school covered all the bases for me !
    PS I am in a according to the world stage, a third world country .........
  12. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    I couldn't disagree more. International Schools have a duty of care that this one clearly hasn't lived up to.
  13. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    No. So no. That’s like saying schools are responsible for teachers in the same way that parents are responsible for minor children. Completely and utterly. Not even close.
    The school provided insurance.
    The teacher undertook an activity that wasn’t covered. Outside of school time. How in the world is the school responsible?
    towncryer and T0nyGT like this.
  14. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    Certainly tough times ahead for the teacher and thier family. Reading the medical policy is as important as going through your contract. Despite having a very good worldwide covarage, many of my colleagues and I pay the extra £200 expat insurance a year that also covers the extreme sports, activities and helicopter rescues.

    As teachers and adults we're responsible for our actions. Getting into an accident J-walking or riding a moped without a license or getting into an Uber/taxi with an unlicensed driver make your insurance null and void.
    towncryer likes this.
  15. sharon52

    sharon52 New commenter

    Can I ask is there a state health system in the country ? The teacher would have known the cover needed surely ?
  16. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    Because they are the reason that the teacher is in the country.
    Because, no doubt, they used the package and free private health insurance as part of the lure. Because I would put money on the fact that the school didn't advertise the fact that horse riding wasn't covered.
    Because I would bet that the school shopped around to find the cheapest product it could to boost the profit margin of the owners.
    Because it's in the UAE, a part of the world where life is cheap and human rights are next to non existent, so the owners couldn't care less.
    Because she was in her 20s, young, probably straight from the UK, and probably knew no better than to naively trust that the school that had lured her out there had her back.

    You've been out there too long. It's why I came back to London, and although my disposable income has gone right down, I am so much happier.
  17. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I hope I’m never that cynical.
    The many assumptions above suggest more about the poster’s mindset than about the school. Returning home was probably the right choice.
  18. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Maybe. Although pretty much aligns with my experience of for profit schools in the ME. I've heard much worse stories from colleagues.
  19. Beagles111

    Beagles111 New commenter

    Obviously one should always read the small print when one is signing something but I am sure that this lady did not expect to be presented with bills of this size when she set out for her horseriding trip. Some years ago I worked at a school about 30 KM outside Bangkok which bears the name of a minor British public school in the Midlands. One of the hard working math teachers teachers contracted Guillan-Barredisease, not whilst doing anything dangerous just whilst living normally. This was pretty debilitating and he was rushed to hospital and put in an induced coma. The sickness went on for months. Hospitals in Bangkok are excellent, the ones that cater for expats anyway, we always refer to them as hotels.
    Anyway, it turns out that the schools insurance didn't cover his illness, nobody really knew why but it didn't. Did the school step in and offer to cover the costs? Did they hell, they basically had a whip round amongst the remaining staff and expected us to chip in a certain amount of our wages every month in order to pay his bills.
    He was also moved to a government hospital, this is very different to the ones which expats use. Good news, he eventually recovered. Bad news? The school has done very little to change the insurance.

    Bottom line? If you work at a mickey Mouse school expect to get the bare minimum of a package.
  20. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    They have fulfilled their duty of care in my opinion. It's not their responsibility to pay for you to knowingly risk your health.
  21. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Kind of in two minds about this. It's quite normal that high risk activities are not covered by insurance - check what's excluded from your next travel insurance policy and you'll see what I mean. However, while most reasonable people would expect things like climbing, parachuting and even diving to be included, horse riding probably falls into that grey area. My previous job probably means I'm more likely to check this, but really everyone should check their policy exclusions at least once.

    However, unlike others, I do think that the school has, to a point, a duty of care. Most reasonable schools will. Unless she specifically told them that she was going horseriding though, I'm not sure exactly what more could have been done.

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