Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wealthy U.S. Visitors Not So Wealthy After Medical Emergencies

Let's call him Pierre, since I can't tell you his real name.

Pierre, a wealthy European businessman in his early 60's, was a picture of health.  A daily tennis player and avid cyclist, he carried the sculpted physique of a man half his age.  With an E-2 Treaty Investor visa and smoothly running U.S. business, Pierre divided his time equally between the U.S. and Switzerland, where he was active in real estate.

One day, as he was leaving to meet friends for dinner in South Beach, he felt a little tug on his left arm and chest.  He pulled his car over and observed the sensation, trying to decide whether he should proceed to dinner or instead head to the emergency room.  Being a prudent man, Pierre headed to the hospital.

Three days later, after an initial 12 hour stay at the emergency room and a mind-boggling barrage of tests, Pierre learned that he had suffered...

...nothing in particular.  No enzymes were present and no heart damage, so heart attack, even minimal, was ruled out.  The only explanation the doctors could give was that he'd suffered some sort of "anxiety attack", something Pierre found absolutely absurd given that he had been in a great mood and looking forward to a nice meal at the China Grill when the discomfort had started.

While Pierre was obviously relieved that nothing serious had happened, he expressed frustration that he had been hospitalized for three days.  "Why", he asked me, "didn't they just release me after they ruled out a heart attack?"

Well, the answer depends on whom you ask: the medical community would say that it was for his own good, keeping him under their watchful eyes until all possible danger had passed.

I don't buy that:  I believe that Pierre, like many others, was kept semi-imprisoned at the hospital as a result of a society which has turned the concept of personal injury into a culture of entitlement, and where the most critical medical acronym has transitioned from AMA to CYA.

Pierre is fine today, but recently had an experience of "discomfort" which significantly eclipsed his prior one: the hospital and physician bills.  Back home, Pierre has wonderful medical coverage and he had never given a second thought to checking on how his national and supplemental EU plans would handle any U.S. claims.  $38,000 later, he found out that, basically, they didn't.

If you are a foreign professional or investor doing business in the U.S, make sure you check your home medical insurance coverage for any medical charges incurred in the bloated current U.S. health care system. Unless that coverage is absolute, get U.S. catastrophic coverage at a minimum.

Email me if you need the names of reliable brokers offering this coverage.



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