Going International with Health Issues

October 29, 2015

Hospital building flat style. Ambulance and helicopter, health and care, aid and doctor. Vector illustration

Finding yourself overseas, cut off from meds and treatments you need is an emergency best avoided. So…If you live with a chronic health condition requiring periodic medical care and/or daily medication, do take the time to research medical procedures and medications available in what may soon become your new host country.

Diabetes, hyper-tension, high cholesterol and a host of other nagging yet common conditions are readily treated in most corners of the globe. If, however, you’re living with a less common condition that could be outside the expertise of the medical community at your destination, you’re advised to research whether the treatments you require will be available.

If it is specialty meds you require, bring a hefty supply with you overseas and do this even if the drug is available at your destination. It’s not uncommon for supplies to become exhausted in some locales and shipping networks can and do break down. Don’t count on having your prescription mailed to you, either. Customs duties can be ridiculously absorbent and the time your meds spend in customs may be long….too long!

On a similar note, a member writes: When I returned to the States from the African continent last Christmas, I soon discovered I had contracted a nasty tropical disease. Feeling worse by the minute and dealing with a wide range of ugly effects, I was not able to get it treated in my North American city of 650,000 inhabitants as it was, obviously, an uncommon disease in this part of the world. Fortunately I had brought meds back with me at the suggestion of our school nurse who advised all teachers to bring a supply ‘just in case.’ Lesson learned: Don’t take anything for granted! Lack of available care and/or medicine can happen anyplace in the world.

This brings us to the topic of health Insurance. Normally, schools purchase what is known as “group insurance.” This means that one or two members of the group with a costly pre-existing conditions can and do cause the overall price for the group to soar. Health issues can be a deterrent when schools consider teachers for employment. If you do have a pre-existing health issue, thoroughly read the school’s health insurance policy to be sure your condition is covered. Don’t take anything for granted, or the word of anyone telling you…”I think it’s covered.” ISR Reviews attest to teachers who found themselves overseas with a costly condition not covered by their school’s health Insurance policy. As always, we recommend research and the sharing of information and experiences. International Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!

We invite you to post questions and comments concerning
medical issues as they relate to the International Teaching experience.


How Old is Too Old to Teach Overseas?

June 4, 2015

birthday cake with the lot of burning candles

In most Western cultures, there are scads of people in their 50’s and decades beyond who are strong and athletic, accepting new career challenges, following a “clean” diet and becoming, in some ways, younger than ever before. They’re enjoying a thoroughly active lifestyle. Are these seniors fit, mentally & physically, to teach? Yes!! If a teacher feels up to the task, they’re welcome to head up a classroom and their experienced worldly perspective is appreciated. However, in some parts of the world, the perception of age carries very different connotations and limitations.

If you’ve lived in the developing world you have  probably seen that “40 is the new 70.” Life isn’t easy in these places and people appear to be aged far beyond their chronological years. In many such countries the mandatory age for retirement is set low and we as international educators are subject to those same regulations.  I was turned down for a position due to my age. The interviewing-director looked twice my years but apparently the date on his passport said different. Fit or fat, vibrant or over-the-hill, it’s your birth date that matters when it comes to getting a work visa.

One would think developed nations might welcome, older, more experienced educators to their shores. Unfortunately, most fear that older educators will face health problems and quickly become a financial burden on their system. Then there is the increased cost to a school that hires an older person because they generally cause health insurance costs to soar. Although most international school Directors will state they like to hire older educators because of the experience they bring to their school, it is apparent that due to other factors it may not always be feasible.

If you are over 50 and having trouble landing an overseas teaching position, don’t despair! You can still live your dream. ISR offers two valuable resources to help members of the “graying” population find overseas teaching posts. We invite you to visit the ISR Work Visa vs. Age Chart and the very informative Blog, Overseas & Over 50 with nearly 600 Comments from aging International educators around the world.

Work Visa vs. Age
Overseas & Over 50


Nagging Health Problems and No Health Insurance

August 28, 2014

healthclaimform6642790Whether or not you’re dealing with a health issue, an attractive benefit of any International School Contract is health insurance–especially if it’s a comprehensive policy! My last insurance included worldwide coverage with just a $100 deductible. That’s a super perk considering that while back in the States one summer I had my shoulder repaired for only the cost of the deductible.

But what do you do when you have health issues or need emergency care and your new school’s health insurance policy has failed to materialize? We transplanted the following letter from the ISR Forum. It outlines a thought-provoking ‘personal health vs. insurance’ situation. We don’t have all the details but the poster does tells us his school knew of his health issues and his need for insurance prior to signing on.

“I began working at my school in July. In my contract it states that I will receive health insurance after I obtain my work visa. I foolishly assumed I would get a work visa soon after arriving.  This has not been the case. There are teachers who have been at the school more than a semester and who still have no health insurance. I also found out (or at least I’ve been told) that the school has already met the limit of employees who may receive work visas.

I have health issues and the prescriptions here run me more than $300 a month. I met with the school’s director about the issue and let him know that I could not afford to pay this amount for my prescriptions (salaries at the school are very low and living costs are high in this country). He confirmed that it might be quite some time before I receive medical coverage. He never got back to me. Yesterday I received a contract offer from a school whose salary and benefits are more in line with what I’m used to with international schools. I will have health insurance (and a paid apartment) immediately upon my arrival.

The school seems to genuinely want to help students of all means, although it can also be said that the school does not give equal concern to the teachers. I doubt that they could do anything to me legally, but I guess that I’m looking for affirmation that I have a right to just up and leave. If I end up in the hospital for any reason here in this country, I face financial ruin.

ISR wants to know what our readers’ take is on this situation. Would you have advised this poster to arrive with 3 months’ worth of prescriptions and a means to get more through whatever channels he/she was using prior to going overseas? Should the school have been more upfront about the insurance situation?  As insurance policies are a major benefit, should they definitely be in place if offered in a contract? Additionally, since insurance policies, unless restricted to just local use, are normally provided through Western insurance companies, is the idea that a work visa is needed to secure such a policy suspect? Should the school have changed its insurance procedures so all teachers would be immediately covered? At what point does a school become responsible for their teachers’ personal needs?


Overseas and Over-50: Ask a Question, Share Experiences, Advice and Support

September 9, 2009

over-50-2512686International Educators aging on the circuit report it’s becoming increasingly difficult to land positions. Age-related visa limits, health insurance restrictions, schools that hire less experienced teachers to cut costs and a variety of other unforseen obstacles are factors affecting aging international educators.  Here’s the place to  share experiences, advice, support and ask questions on being Overseas and Over-50.  Also see our Visa/Age/Country Chart.