Health

Can you get good health care on vacation?

Life is a series of risks vs. rewards. I like to ski, but it’s possible I could crash into a tree and die. I mitigate this risk by wearing a helmet.

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Life is a series of risks vs. rewards. I like to ski, but it’s possible I could crash into a tree and die. I mitigate this risk by wearing a helmet. It’s the exact same deal with riding my bike. Again, helmet. I did some skydiving in my younger days, but after getting married and having kids thought perhaps I should put that on hold until my children are in university and don’t need me around so much anymore.

I don’t want to live in a bubble, because that isn’t living.

I also like to travel, and my wife and I recently watched an episode of the Fifth Estate called “Holiday Hell” and how people have their vacation plans go awry. One was just a freak accident about a rainstorm causing landslides on the Machu Picchu trail. People died. The lesson is, don’t hike that trail during the rainy season. Another story was about a woman attacked by a shark in Cancun; she got lousy medical care. The lesson there is, don’t expect excellent medical care in Mexico. Actually, any time you leave a developed nation like Canada, you’re at risk of sub-par health care.

But what about the cruise-ship story? I think people expect good health care on cruise ships, but the piece exposed this expectation as misguided. The cruise industry advertises first-rate care, but it seems as though the reality may fall short. The report took the position doctors on the ships aren’t great at handling emergency situations and don’t have much experience dealing with heart attacks, which is foolish when you think of the age of the average cruising population.

I asked my wife, a family physician, why the cruise lines wouldn’t just hire well-qualified physicians who were good at emergency situations. She thinks that well-qualified physicians don’t want to work on cruise ships.

So, don’t expect great health care on a cruise either.

Basically, any time you leave your house you’re putting yourself at risk. However, the more you stay at home the more you risk dying of boredom. The solution is to find the level of risk you can tolerate and live your life the way you want. Try and mitigate those risks, of course (helmet), and be prepared for the worst.

Finally, if you want to go somewhere tropical that does have good health care, there is always Hawaii. Just make sure you have insurance.

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