Stop the ride I want to get off...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

who writes these questions...

I finished my radiotherapy at the end of January this year, within two days one of my internet friends arrived in England for a week of touring around with me. We visited loads of places and had a really good time. I’d met him before briefly in Chicago when I had gone out to a big meet for members of a role playing club, yes Star Trek and yes I am sad and proud of it. A geek and proud of it! I have made some really good friends through this club and Bob is one of them.

He returns home and wants me to visit him. I prevaricate and ponder and point out that I’d love to but I also want to take the kids over to the US to visit friends as well this year. He solves this by introducing me to one his best friends, who just happens to have contacts in the right places in the travel industry and sorts me out a free ticket. So I am going to Atlanta at the beginning of May for a very long weekend.

Great, I hear you cry, jammy sod, I hear others cry (translation – lucky bastard), yeah yeah all those and very grateful to Bob’s friend Michael. But before I travel I need to sort out travel insurance, wouldn’t do to get free air tickets then drop down with some lurgy and get charged thousands by the American Health Care system. Would kind of defeat the object.

I started shopping around for insurance, I knew this was going to be difficult as I remembered booking our trip to Florida after Amy got better and struggling to get a good price. Let’s just start out by saying I HATE insurance companies. I wish there was some other way to do this.

I am a member of a Support Forum for Breast Cancer sufferers, survivors, patients, uh folks. Travel Insurance has often cropped up, getting cover when you’ve had any form of cancer is not simple. So I copied down the number of the company they said were good and rang them. So began a long haul to get some cover.

First stop a company recommended on the Support Forum, people had done well with this company, but the quote they gave me was £553. The questions they ask when they medical screen are so duplicitous it’s a wonder they insure anyone. The one that was scuppering me was “Have you seen a Doctor or Consultant more than five times in the last twelve months?” Uh yes, every time I had chemo, once a week during radio. The question I hate the most “Have you been told you are going to die?” Uh, isn’t everyone? Ne’er mind onto next company.

This company is an independent broker who specialise in insurance for cancer patients. Very nice lady really tried hard, gave me a number to ring to speak to the medical screening folks. Same list of questions, he then presses a button and says we can insure you for a supplement of £80. Woo hoo, says I and starts jumping about, “Wait, oh my computer is messing up, hold on a second.” Noonie freezes in place and waits, knew it was too good to be true, “I’m sorry Ms Noonie but my computer wasn’t doing the sums right it’s £491.” Slump, noonie flops in chair and sighs. Ne’er mind, maybe we can sort something out whereby the Breast cancer stuff isn’t covered but everything else is.

Back to nice lady at Brokers, “Oh yes, not a problem, your BC won’t be covered that will be £45 but to get this you first have to call another medical screening centre and get turned down.” Sigh, I phone and go through all the horrid questions again. I really hate this part. Right now I feel well, I am not undergoing any treatments, life is good but then you do all this and come off the phone feeling like a bad risk. Should I be picking out my gravestone and casket? I

I got off the phone this time and just burst into tears. I really don’t know why, I think it’s a combination of stress, frustration and fear. This is one of the side effects of cancer they don’t tell you about. I’m lucky I have a house and already had life insurance, but some women on the support forum can’t get mortgages or life insurance. Maybe we should just carry a bell and ring it “Unclean, unclean”

Well that sounds like the end of the story? Wrong, the next week someone posts on our support forum about a company that isn’t asking stupid questions and is giving out sensible rates that aren’t more than the cost of the holiday. I recommend this company to a friend who is trying to get her mum insured for a trip, they give her a brilliant rate and she has secondaries. So yesterday I rang this company, get this only four simple sensible questions. “Has your condition been diagnosed as terminal?” was the last one, much better way to phrase it. They are selling me an annual policy for the whole family, that’s two people with cancer history, plus two others, for worldwide travel including US for £120. Noonie flops in a corner and sighs, this company also pointed out to me that I had fourteen days to cancel, which no-one else had, I checked on the other policy I’d already paid for. Same rule so Monday I ring up for a refund. WOOHOO Atlanta here I come, fully covered.

Psst Michael, this does not mean you can break me while I’m there!

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