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Healthcare in the Lebanon: Pay Extra Attention Says MediCare International

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 General News J E 4
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Lebanon is in many ways a big draw for expats. With beautiful scenery, aMediterranean climate and vibrant nightlife, the country is often viewed asan exciting prospect for those looking for something different. However, aswas recently demonstrated, the country is still occasionally embroiled inconflict, making everyday life occasionally unpredictable and sometimesdangerous. For those expats living in Lebanon, and particularly Beirut, it isessential that they have adequate medical cover, not only for everyday healthconcerns, but just in case they are caught in the fall-out of conflict.

The country currently has around 6000 UK expatriates, according to datareleased by the IPPR, who are working across a range of sectors from commercethrough to charitable work. Lebanon is still home to many who work in postconflict and reconstruction activities.

Health insurance policies which include limited cover against terroristattacks are available, but with conflicts not solely confined to war zonesnowadays, effective cover which reflects this new global reality is now evenmore important.

Passive war cover, as the term is known, is likely to be of particularinterest to staff in aid agencies and rebuilding contractors. Policyholdersbenefit from the full range of services, including hospital benefits andevacuation, in the event of injury by terrorists or as part of a broader warconflict. Evacuation is likely to be particularly relevant in conflict zones,where local medical facilities may be damaged or supplies of medication andblood for transfusions may be an issue.

According to the British Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) website, becauseof the Lebanon's fragile political situation, together with the threat ofterrorism, sometimes directed towards Westerners staying in the country, itis essential that comprehensive medical insurance is taken out. Quite apartfrom the risks posed by political conflict, day to day hazards also posesignificant risk. An example highlighted by the UK FCO is driving standards,which are widely acknowledged as being poor, so the accident rate is veryhigh.

Healthcare in Lebanon is among the best in the region and some hospitalsare on a par with European and US hospitals. This is despite the relativelyshort time it has had to develop following the devastation of the civil warand more recent bombings. Most hospitals are well equipped, but, withoutinsurance, medical treatment tends to be very expensive. The majority ofhealthcare staff speak good French or English, and so communication is rarelya problem.

Private clinics and medical centres are available throughout the countryand equipped with the latest facilities and technology. The AmericanUniversity of Beirut Medical Centre (AUBMC) is one of the Middle East'sleading multispecialty medical facilities with several of its departmentsserving as distinguished referral centres for the region.

Most Lebanese are privately insured and those registered with theNational Social Security Fund (NSSF) have partial health coverage. Localnationals wanting to avail themselves of extended or more comprehensive covercan buy private policies, such as those offered by MediCare International.

Policies providing corporate group coverage are widely used by companiesregistered at the NSSF to supplement the benefits provided by thegovernment's healthcare system. International private medical insurance isavailable for non-Lebanese living in Lebanon. Costs for healthcare variesbetween hospitals and doctors.

A number of pharmacies are available across the country. Many drugs areavailable over the counter without prescription, and some pharmacistsprescribe required medicine for minor ailments.

The National Travel Health Network and Care website advises that normalprecautions should be taken to avoid HIV. It currently affects 0.1% of thepopulation. Compared with 0.2% figure for the UK population, this still putsit in a relatively low risk category. Travellers to the country need topresent a yellow fever vaccination certificate on entry into Lebanon,although the virus is not present in the country.

In addition, vaccinations against Hepatitis A and Typhoid are needed ifthe person is going to be in the country on a long-term basis, staying withfriends and/or relatives, or when staying in an area with poor sanitation.This is the case for most expats staying in the country, so the vaccinationswill be needed.

Hepatitis B needs to be vaccinated against for all travellers to Lebanon,particularly those expats staying there for long periods of time. 2 - 7 % ofthe population are carriers of the virus, and so the risk of transmission isrelatively high.

Expats who are living in more remote areas and who are likely to havecontact with wild animals should be vaccinated against rabies.

Whilst many of the medical facilities offering treatment are excellent,healthcare cover in the Lebanon is an essential purchase, both to protectagainst the wide range of possible illnesses and also the risks that a localconflict could bring, particularly in a region which can be volatile, anddoes experience terrorist activity, some of which is targeted directlytowards Westerners. Private international healthcare insurer MediCareInternational - website www.medicare.co.uk - counts Lebanon as one of its topten insurance destinations for expats and local nationals and specialises inpassive war insurance cover to ensure clients are fully protected.

David Pryor, Senior Executive Director with Medicare International(http://www.medicare.co.uk) said: "There are some excellent facilities inBeirut and other parts of the country, although the standard of healthcare isnot consistent across all regions. We pride ourselves on providing the bestpossible service for our customers, so if medical facilities are inadequatewe always organise transfer to top-class medical treatment, whether that isin the country, or a neighbouring one. Our policies cover all nationalities,including local Lebanese and include full cover in the event that a client isinjured as a result of a local conflict breaking out. Against thisbackground, we strongly recommend expatriates in particular are covered forall eventualities."

Note to Editors

MediCare International has been speaking fluent healthcare for over 25years ensuring simple, quick access to the best health facilities forexpatriates of all nationalities living or working abroad and protectionagainst the costs of inpatient and outpatient medical treatment. Currently,MediCare International has clients in 114 countries worldwide of 86 differentnationalities.

MediCare specialises in designing flexible medical insurance cover backedup with the assurance of 24-hour emergency medical assistance for clients andtheir families. Help, advice and support are only a telephone call away wheretrained professionals can authorise treatment/settle bills direct withmedical facilities, or arrange medical evacuation when necessary - whereveryou are in the world. Most medical bills are refunded within 10 days, makingthis one of the fastest settlement times in the industry.

MediCare International were one of the first insurers to offer genuinechronic care costs cover, so clients with long term medication costs can restassured knowing they will be covered.

Cover under group plans is also available to most local nationals.Discounted group rates start with just 3 lives and full medical historydisregarded exemptions are available on groups of 10 and over, makingMedicare one of the most competitive staff cover providers.

For details of MediCare's International health insurance plans visithttp://www.medicare.co.uk, email medicare@medicare.co.uk or call+44(0)20-7204-3700.LONDON, March 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- - The Lebanon is an important centre for international workers - Post conflict international health cover hard to arrange - Good hospital facilities can only be accessed with the right cover - MediCare International offers insurance for all nationalities

SOURCE MediCare International
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