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I just had a cardiac bypass operation, can I get travel insurance?

11/21/08 • By Milan Korčok

I just had a cardiac bypass operation, can I get travel insurance?
Just last week I had three such queries. I won’t bore you. I’ll just give you the short answer: No. Not if you’re looking for complete coverage.

Does that mean I have to stay him in the snow?
Not entirely. But you have to look at your options carefully. Here’s the way it works. If you recently had a heart bypass, most insurers will require at least one year of “stability” before they will cover you, which does not mean your doctor saying it’s OK for you to travel, or you testifying that you feel great and you walk three miles a day. It means meeting certain criteria like having no change of medication (type or dosage), no symptoms, no medical intervention other than just monitoring, nothing on that chart that suggests the need for further investigation. Some may give you a shorter stability period but will cover only for other, unrelated conditions, not your heart—or anything related to it—which covers a lot of territory.

I also suggested to a couple who have a winter home in Arizona that they might want to look at air ambulance plans as an option—but they must realize their limitations. They must be prepared to shoulder a good deal of cost of there is a heart-related emergency.

Air ambulance plans bought on a six-month or one-year enrollment basis are quite cheap and they do guarantee to get you to a hospital at home—but they too have pre-existing conditions limitations and they don’t operate like taxi cabs. You can’t just call them and say, I’m not feeling too well, will you fly me home?

They operate mostly on a hospital-to-hospital basis, so your emergency has to be serious enough for you to be hospitalized first and then a determination is made if you really need the air ambulance to get you home. If not, and you can do it on your own, or with trained assistance, that’s the way it will be done. And you will have to pay the initial costs of your hospital admission up to that point. So it’s not the same as insurance, but thousands of travelers use such services and are very satisfied with them because they do preclude the need for you to endure a long confinement if instead, once you are stabilized, you can be flown home. That’s a big advantage.

There are always options to almost any situation. But sometimes you just have to be patient.


  1. My husband received coverage from Medoc – Johnson Inc. for complete coverage once being stable with no change of medication within the last 3 months. He had a quadruple by-pass in March of this year. Are you saying that they won’t cover any heart issues if it does happen while in Arizona?

    • Ada:
      You have to ask Medoc if they will cover your husband. They may have a medically-underwritten plan for him. Insurers have different requirements, and I know that there are some insurers who would require one full year of stability for a quadruple bypass. This is an individual decision made by the insurer on the basis of cdomplete assessment of his health. If you plan on going away this winter, you should start your shopping now.


  2. We returned from California after a 2 month stay. If we go cross border shopping for less than a day before our 31 days back in Canada are up are we deemed to have not left the U.S. and are required to add all these days to our 2 months?