The history of surgery is almost as old as the history of human beings. The ancient Egyptians were known to have performed a form or oral surgery in order to drain an abscessed tooth (proving that toothache has been plaguing mankind forever) while Aelius Galen of Greece was practicing brain and eye surgery almost two thousand years ago. But if the concept of surgery is not so different now as it was then, the knowledge and technology involved have – thankfully – advanced in great leaps and bounds. Techniques such as “keyhole surgery” (minimally invasive) and the evolution of laser technology allow for relatively complex procedures to be performed with little ‘impact’ on the patient.
Of course, some types of surgery will have a longer recovery period than others; but whenever you’re ready to take a well-earned break, you can join our Travel Insurance After Surgery Group.
Post-surgery patients and Travel Insurance
There are many different types of surgery, each of which will place its own demands on the body; the time it takes to ‘fully recover’ will therefore vary, as will the precautions you need to take. Some surgeries may limit your physical capabilities, or require that you don’t over-exert yourself, and it’s important to take these into account when planning a holiday. For example, a person recovering from laser eye-surgery may be fully up to an activity-based holiday, whereas those who have had more invasive procedures might find that a week relaxing under a palm tree by the pool is ‘active’ enough! If you have any uncertainties about which activities might be suitable, your doctor will be able to offer advice.
It’s also quite possible that there will be restrictions around air travel – i.e. a period of time (post surgery) during which it is not recommended to fly. Again, this period of time varies according to what procedure you’ve undergone. Simple procedures, such as laser eye surgery, may only prevent you from flying for 2-3 days; while certain joint replacements may preclude air travel for as long as 3 months. A good general guide can be found on the NHS Choices website, but please do speak with your doctor before travelling – as no two people (and no two operations) are entirely the same.
It’s also worth noting that different airlines have different policies concerning travel post-surgery, so it’s essential to check with them before booking your flights.
With regards to choosing a destination, one general piece of advice is to avoid travelling to an area with poor sanitation or high rates of infectious diseases. It’s possible that your immune system may be less robust (temporarily) as a result of the surgery, meaning you will have a reduced ability to fight off infections.
Wherever you are going, try to gather as much information as possible about your destination, including local hospital care. Finally, be sure to protect yourself with a good travel insurance policy – because if you do need treatment whilst abroad or emergency evacuation back to your home country, costs can be very high and you want to know that those costs will be taken care of.
Why does travel insurance cost more for people recovering from surgery?
Insurers are always concerned about the possibility of a claim, because these are the costs their business has to pay. Claims are typically either for cancelled holidays, for medical treatment whilst abroad or for returning a sick patient back to their home country for further treatment. Insurers try to assess how often these claims are likely to happen and how much they will cost when they do.
So when considering post-surgery patients, the insurance industry will take into account certain factors, such as their reduced ability to fight infections (see above).
When applying for travel insurance, it is essential that you declare the details of your surgery, because it is considered a “pre-existing medical condition”. The travel insurer may then need to ask you a number of questions relating to your condition before they offer you a quote. As with limitations on air travel, different procedures are treated differently by the travel insurance industry, depending on their severity. For example, getting travel insurance following heart surgery will be harder than getting travel insurance after knee surgery, as so on, as the procedures get less invasive. That said, it is crucial to answer all of the insurer’s questions fully and truthfully, to avoid invalidating your policy. You can find out more information by reading this article.
Will my choice of holiday destination affect the price of insurance?
If you need to receive emergency medical treatment whilst you are on holiday, or need to be flown home with medical supervision, the associated costs can vary significantly depending on the country you are in (or taken to) for treatment. This is why it is highly advisable to tell your insurance company your exact destination. If you only declare general information such as “Europe”, your insurer will assume the highest potential cost within that region.
Also, it is worth noting that some destinations outside of Europe are considerably more expensive, particularly the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. Cruise Ships holidays are also thought of as having potentially higher costs, as more serious health incidents are not something their on-board medical teams are not usually equipped to deal with, and so the patient may have to be airlifted to the nearest hospital.