Now one of the many aspects of being a senior citizen is that it’s pretty much expected that you’ll find something to complain about on a regular basis. Of course I recognise that complaining is not exclusively reserved for us seniors as the act of complaining spreads over the whole age range from birth to death….yes I’m pretty sure it ends with death although after death people often feel the need to complain about YOU !
But that’s for another time….and post.
One downside to age related complaining is that when you become “old”, younger people on the receiving end of the complaining just switch off and ignore you and if this complaining is being done over a phone, you just know they’re checking their text messages, painting their toe nails or reading the latest copy of “The Idiots Guide to S&M” waiting for you to become exhausted and go off for your mid afternoon nap.
Tip : never ring to complain around 2pm or you’ll wake up 2 hrs later with a crick in your neck , drool all over the phone and no idea what you were complaining about or more importantly, why you have a warm damp feeling down your leg.
I went through some sort of character epiphany several years ago when I changed from being a mild mannered Clark Kent clone who wouldn’t have said boo to a goose (actually who would…..those buggers have anger issues ?) to a Superman clone except with no super powers. Just…..man really.
“with great age comes great complaining responsibility”
Now if I’m not happy with anything from the quality of my restaurant food to the height of a product on a supermarket shelf…..I’ll complain. And the great thing is that when you do that face to face as a senior, you get instant results. It’s brilliant. The restaurant food gets taken back to the kitchen to be reheated/recooked or whatever and a supermarket staff member who plays part time in the NBA will happily get me the product from the top shelf.
Again I’d expect that to be the case for everyone who complains but I’ve found it happens with more willingness and grace now that I’m a senior. For one thing the food doesn’t return with odd little bubbles on the meat with a distinct flavour of stale cigarette and Listerine ! Know what I’m saying ?
Anyway back on topic and today my complaint cum rant is about holiday insurance and although not confined to seniors, we do tend to bear the brunt of the injustices given that we’ve usually accumulated a fair amount of excess medical baggage along the path of our lives.
Now from the get go I understand how insurance companies work and it’s obvious that if a senior goes off to climb Everest they’ll probably be more likely to be making an insurance claim than some fit young thing in their 20’s or 30’s. Fair enough. Let’s face it, if you can shatter your hip trying to get the top off a Boost bottle, chances are the insurance company will be paying out a few bob if (when) you fall down the plane steps at Tenzing-Hillary airport.
So they load up the premiums accordingly. Again, fair enough as long as these hikes aren’t so much that they mean the holiday has to be scrubbed.
My complaint is about that dreaded category on holiday insurance forms, namely the pre-existing medical condition.
Now back in Nov 1992 I had a heart attack. It wasn’t a chest clutching, pain ridden episode and in fact I felt little discomfort and my GP at the time decided it was a pulled neck muscle due to a strenuous game of badminton and I was at work the next day. Skip forward several weeks and with no change in my situation I went private, was tested, was told I had had a heart attack and in March 1993, I had a quintuple CABG or “cabbage” as it is known.
It all went well and after about 16 weeks recuperation which included a 3 week trip to California, I was good as new and only had a couple of pills to take daily for the rest of my life.
On July 20th 2005 I had my 2nd heart attack.
This was even less dramatic than the first and I took myself off to A&E as I knew the symptoms and was immediately admitted, given the overnight blood test and told that yes, indeed, I had had another heart attack. This time no surgery was advised (advice that I happily agreed with) and my meds were simply expanded to 5 a day..for the rest of my life.
That was 11 years ago and I’ve had no heart related issues, or any other issues, since.
But I’m classed as having an ongoing medical condition which becomes a pre-existing medical condition as far as holiday insurance is concerned. When I was going annually to America for 6 months at a time, my insurance policy cost more than the plane tickets. Things are a bit better now that I mostly holiday within the EU but filling in the damn form is still a nightmare as one inadvertent omission can lead to invalidation when making a claim.
For several years between 2001 and 2010 I used Endsleigh Insurance as their medical screening questions basically asked if I’d visited my GP in the last 6 months and if I could walk 50 metres on flat ground without getting out of breath ? I’d answer NO and YES and I’d be covered for a fair premium…still close to the flight ticket cost but then again, I was going for 6 months.
These days I can’t use Endsleigh as they’ve changed their rules and although they claim to still cover pre-existing conditions, they now have a list of conditions they won’t cover and the list is a long one. In fact they’ve helpfully got a list of conditions they WILL cover and this list is very short.
When I saw that acne was on the short list, I knew I needed to move on.
Next I used the good old Martin Lewis site (www.moneysavingexpert.com) and found out that the free EHIC card I always carry with me on European holidays has a big brother called EHIC Plus which for a fee, provides more medical cover, non medical cover and has options for pre-existing medical conditions. I was off to the site like a shot.
At first everything went swimmingly. After the usual questions about the holiday dates, my age and so on, I came to the medical section and took a deep breath. First up I had to state my pre-existing condition(s) and I’m never sure what to put exactly. I picked “heart attack” and this brought up about 20 further questions which were simple enough to answer and I was happy to see most didn’t want to go back further than 6 months or 2 years at most. At the end, the premium for an annual policy including outpatient cover, was £44 which I thought was brilliant. Basically it wasn’t any more than the regular insurance so finally I wasn’t being penalised for something that happened over a decade ago.
But before continuing, I rang them to make sure I hadn’t overlooked anything and after telling my story, was told I needed to add my CABG as a separate “condition” ! What ? Why ? I did the quote procedure again, added the CABG and got a similar set of extra questions and at the end, the premium had doubled. Doubled because of a surgery I had 23 years ago which had NO impact on my having a 2nd heart attack in any case.
I looked back at the questions I’d been initially asked regarding the heart attack and this was one of them……..
Have you ever had an Angiogram (Cardiac Catheter) or Angioplasty (Balloon) or Heart Bypass surgery?
I’d said YES to this and took the follow up option of “more than 2 years ago” as the best choice. So my complaint is…..why would I then need to include CABG as a separate condition, incurring a doubling of the premium ? I’d already told them I’d had a CABG after all.
So tomorrow I’ll put this reasonable question to them and make sure they know I’m in that select group of complainers that need to be taken seriously. Sadly I’m not sure that’ll wash with an insurance company.
After this post I plan on going in again and adding acne as a 3rd condition; I bet the premium goes up to £132 !
One thing’s for sure; I can’t afford to tell them about my ingrowing toe nail.