Travelling after Stent or Heart By-pass Surgery?
For travelers with heart conditions, especially those who have had stent or by-pass surgery, obtaining adequate coverage from travel insurance is always a challenge. Fortunately, we are still normally able to find insurance for these travelers. However, you do need to know what to look for in a travel policy to insure that you will be adequately covered in the event of heart problems while you are away.
Most Canadian travel policies have a stability period for pre-existing medical conditions. This means that during this period of time, there can be no changes in your medical condition, including no changes to your medication and no medical tests. If you have had heart surgery, such as angioplasty (stent placement) or heart by-pass surgery, the stability period is typically 180 or 365 days. Therefore, tell your doctor well in advance that you plan to go on vacation, and try to avoid any changes to your medication during the stability period. It helps to keep your plans flexible, so that you can delay major travel until your condition stabilizes. On the other hand, if you have had stent or by-pass surgery within the past few years, your heart problems are now under control and you feel well, don’t wait to take that dream vacation!
The majority of the travel policies we carry have a 10-year limit on heart coverage for those who have had by-pass surgery or stent insertion. This means that with many insurance companies, if it has been more than 10 year since your last surgery, you are ineligible for coverage. Keep this time limit in mind when you are planning travel, especially extended winter vacations in Mexico or the southern US. After you pass the 10-year limit, there are still options available, but selection is limited, and prices will normally be higher.
For those who are unable to find adequate coverage after answering questionnaires, there is also the option of taking a short trip. Several travel insurance companies offer no-questionnaire policies for trips of up to 15 days, provided that you are under 75 years old. Of course, you must still meet the general eligibility conditions for these policies. Again, many policies will exclude those who have had by-pass surgery more than 10 years ago. However, there is a wider selection of policies available for short trips.
Accept an Exclusion to Heart Coverage
Finally, if you find that no policy will offer you coverage for your heart condition, you could purchase a policy that excludes this coverage but still provides coverage for other conditions. While this is not ideal, it does offer you some protection. In this case, you should ensure that you are in good health before you travel, and limit your trip to a few weeks to reduce the risk of needing medical attention while you are away.