# Tuesday, March 13, 2012
                 
Do you have a parent or grandparent that would like to visit Canada? If you do then you should know as of December 1, 2011, Immigration Canada is now offering parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens (permanent residents) the option of getting a Canadian "super visa". Unlike traditional visas this Canadian super visa is: valid for 2 years; renewable up to a total of 10 years; and allows for multiple entries into Canada. Within this two year period the applicant does not have to apply for a new visa every time they enter Canada!
posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 5:42:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Friday, January 21, 2011
                 
very month or so, the main stream media picks up on a story about a Canadian traveling without proper coverage. Many of these unfortunate situations arise from a misunderstanding on the part of the client. Clients find out too late that their pre-existing condition is not covered by the policy they purchased. This is devastating since the client took the time and had the foresight to purchase coverage for their trip. This prudent move can be compromised quickly if pre-existing conditions apply.
posted on Friday, January 21, 2011 9:44:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Friday, December 17, 2010
                 
If you are thinking about buying health insurance and have pre-existing conditions it is important that you speak with a HealthQuotes.ca advisor. In many cases families will have members that use medication regularly while other family members have no pre-existing conditions.
posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 8:37:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Wednesday, December 8, 2010
                 
It is widely known and well proven that employees who feel like their employer cares about their future and retirement are happier and more productive members of the workforce. Probably the most direct and profound measure of this is the retirement plan. Pensions and Group RRSP’s have and continue to be the cornerstone of industry for attracting and retaining a quality workforce. Still only 38% of working Canadians are members of a group retirement savings plan because small business think it is too complicated or expensive to be involved in a Pension or Group Savings plan.
posted on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 1:25:23 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Tuesday, October 19, 2010
                 
HealthQuotes.ca has developed several key strategies for dealing with benefits for the Canadian arms of both large America companies and multinational firms.
posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 1:10:44 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, October 5, 2010
                 
My name is Ian Baker. I am the president of HealthQuotes.ca. HealthQuotes.ca is Canada’s premier insurance quoting web site. Our site was launched in 1997 and has been a great success story. Our model has always been ...
posted on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 2:38:39 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, September 15, 2010
                 
Medical expenses can be a huge and unexpected financial burden for Canadians. One day you are healthy and the next day you find out you may have a health issue. You may not have adequate coverage when a change occurs. Your benefits or individual plan may have gaps or restrictions that leave you vulnerable.
posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:51:35 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, May 26, 2010
                 
As of May 1, 2010, the Government of Cuba has declared that all travellers must be insured by a valid medical insurance policy prior to entering the country. This requirement applies to foreigners, Cubans living abroad, and foreign citizens who temporarily or occasionally reside in Cuba.

The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) has confirmed that Cuban authorities will accept either a Provincial Health Insurance card or proof of private travel insurance coverage to meet this requirement. Lacking either of these documents, visitors will be obliged to purchase insurance from a Cuban carrier upon arrival.

Travellers should carry the following documentation in compliance with the new requirements:
  • Valid Canadian passport
  • Cuban Tourist Card or Visa
  • Provincial Health Insurance card
    • Each family member should have their own
    • Should not be relied upon as the only form of medical coverage, as provincial health insurance is extremely limited in terms of out of country coverage and does not pay up front as required by Cuban authorities (Note: you will not be allowed to exit the country with outstanding medical expenses)
  • Certificate of travel insurance coverage
    • Must include visible policy number and insurer name
    • It is recommended that this notice lists all covered dependents as well
  • Copy of covered expenses
Travellers are urged to contact their insurance carriers to confirm that their benefit plan is recognized by ASISTUR, the official insurance and assistance entity in Cuba. Those who are covered through their employers should do the same.

HealthQuotes.ca has received confirmation that two of Canada’s leading insurers – Standard Life and Sun Life Financial – have made the necessary arrangements with Cuban authorities. Both Europ Assistance (the travel provider of Sun Life Financial) and AXA Assistance (the travel provider of Standard Life) are recognized by ASISTUR.

We are confident that all other major insurers will follow.

For more information, please visit:
Note that travel insurance can be obtained through the HealthQuotes.ca website, or by calling a licensed advisor at 1-800-474-4474.

posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:21:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, April 28, 2010
                 
Recent layoffs at the Nova Scotia office that processes permanent residency cards and citizenship applications are expected to cause delays for immigrants to Canada who are planning to travel abroad this summer.

The Canadian Employment and Immigration Union reports that the contracts of approximately 147 administrative staff have ended and will not be renewed. As a result, the waiting time to process essential legal documentation may increase from 18 to 24 months, affecting the travel plans of immigrants who intend to visit family members outside of Canada.

Permanent residents who expect to travel are advised to review the expiry dates on their permanent residency cards and ensure that they will cover the duration of the trip, as valid documentation is required both to exit and enter the country. In the event that an extension is required, residents are urged to be prepared for a longer than usual processing period and adjust their travel plans accordingly.

Conversely, a representative from federal immigration insists that the layoffs will not cause substantial delays since the additional employees were hired to assist with a backlog to begin with.

Nonetheless, we remind readers to ensure that all travel documents are in place well ahead of time. In addition, travellers are encouraged to arrange for adequate travel insurance coverage prior to departure.

Travel insurance is an essential aspect of your trip. Accidents can happen anywhere, any time, and the peace of mind of having financial security will ensure that you enjoy a safe and pleasant holiday.

We offer a variety of comprehensive options from leading insurers and there are important differences with respect to the coverage available. One of our trained advisors will be glad to assist you in comparing and contrasting the numerous options to find a travel medical plan that best suits your needs.

Please visit www.healthquotes.ca for all of your travel insurance requirements. You can also call us toll-free at 1-800-474-4474 for a free travel consultation.

posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:58:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Saturday, March 13, 2010
                 
Although factors such as family history and age cannot be altered, many of the health concerns that can cause cardiovascular disease are controllable. Every Canadian can make the choice to improve their health status, and thus, improve their chances over not becoming ill. In order to lessen the chances of heart disease and/or stroke the following is recommended:
 
  • Control Blood Pressure: The single most important stroke risk factor that is controllable; a 10 point drop in blood pressure equals a 40% less chance of having a stroke.
  • Quitting Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of stroke as much as 2 to 3 times. Quitting can diminish this risk within the first year of cessation; after 5 years of successful abstinence from smoking the risk is diminished to a person that has never smoked before. For non-smokers, it is essential to avoid second- hand smoke which can double the risk of cardiac disease/stroke.
  • Control Cholesterol: The link between high levels of bad cholesterol, LDL and heart disease are stronger than the connection between bad cholesterol levels and stroke. LDL, however, causes hardening of the arteries, which in turn increases the risk of stroke. Keeping cholesterol in a healthy range will usually require being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, as well as taking any medications prescribed.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can be a major factor in reducing the risk of stroke. The right type and amount of exercise can often cut the possibility of having a stroke by half. As well, exercise can lead to other healthy changes.
  • Getting and Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Excessive body weight definitely raises the risk of having a stroke. Healthy eating, along with regular physical exercise, is essential for cardiovascular health. A properly balanced nutritious diet helps to lower body weight and the size of the waist/ The Body Mass Index (BMI) level is good indicator of whether or not the ideal body weight has been reached. High BMI levels for women are to be considered at a high risk of stroke; high BMI coupled with a large waist in males is considered particularly high risk.
  • Normal Blood Sugar Levels: Almost 20% of people who have had a stroke are diabetic. In turn, diabetics have a higher risk of stroke due to that over time; high levels of blood sugar can damage the blood vessels that lead to the brain. Diabetics must manage their disease with extreme care in order to reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Control Atrial Fibrillation: Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that can increase the chance of the formation of blood clots, which can lead to a stroke. It is important to take the medication that is prescribed for this condition.
This and the past 2 blogs have dealt with cardiovascular disease and stroke. As with most other health conditions, a healthy diet and lifestyle is absolutely essential for optimal health. Please remember to notify your health (and life) insurance broker if and when your health status is upgraded due to a healthier lifestyle; you may be entitled to lower insurance premiums.

posted on Saturday, March 13, 2010 2:59:36 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Friday, February 26, 2010
                 
Ischemic heart disease is the most common type of cardiovascular disease and affects men and women both equally. While factors such as age and/or heredity to contribute to the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, the majority of cases found in Canadians were related to risk factors that are modifiable. The major risk factors for cardiovascular disease are:

  • Smoking: Smoking greatly increases the risk of the development of blocked arteries, blood clots, reduction of oxygen in the blood as well as increased blood pressure. Smoking, either first and/or second hand are harmful to human health in general, and specifically is high-risk for developing ischemic heart disease and stroke. Non-smokers can die just as prematurely from second-hand smoke; smoking nearly doubles the risk of stroke as well. Quitting smoking not only provides immediate but also long lasting health benefits; within hours of smoking cessation the risk of heart attack already begins to decrease.
  • Lack of Exercise: People who are physically inactive have twice the risk of having heart disease as well as a stroke. More than half of the Canadian population reports to being inactive; for those who have already experienced a heart attack, it is vital to have and maintain a healthy level of exercise in order to increase chances of survival.
  • Unhealthy Eating: 56% of Canadians report eating less than 5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day, with the minority only reporting that they eat fresh fruit and vegetables in the amounts recommended in Canada's Food Guide. Not only do fresh fruits and vegetables protect the heart and blood vessels, but they provide fiber and contain anti-oxidants (substances which work against the development of blockage in the arteries).
  • High Cholesterol: Cholesterol is one of the fats in the blood that contributes to the growth of all cells in the body. Too much cholesterol ca lead to blockage of the arteries. There are 2 main types of cholesterol:
    1. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is most often referred to as "bad cholesterol" because it's high levels contribute to artery blockage.
    2. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is most often referred to as "good cholesterol" because it helps to carry LDL-cholesterol away from the artery walls.
  • Triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol but they are, however, a type of fat thatis found in the blood and are linked with excess weight, excessive alcohol consumption and/or diabetes.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): This is the measure of the force (pressure) of blood against the walls of the blood vessels (arteries). The top number of a blood pressure reading represents the pressure when the heart contracts and pushes blood out (systolic) and the bottom number is the lowest pressure when the heart relaxes between beats (diastolic). Blood pressure that is consistently more than 140/90 mmHg is considered high, although for those people who have diabetes, 130/80 mmHg is considered high. High blood pressure can, over an extended period of time, cause scarring that promotes the build-up of fatty plaque which is a substance that can narrow and eventually block the arteries. Fatty plaque also causes strain to the heart, initially causing a thickening of the heart muscle and eventually causing the heart to weaken. Very high blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the brain to burst, resulting in a stroke. While high blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, it is also the number one modifiable risk factors for strokes. More than 2.6 million Canadians have been diagnosed with hypertension; there is a possibility that just as many people are living with hypertension and are simply not aware of it. It is expected that more than 90% of people 55-65 with normal blood pressure are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetime. In 2007 21 million Canadians visited community physicians due to high blood pressure; blood pressure medication that is prescribed by a physician has also risen. Approximately 2.3 billion dollars a year are spent on direct costs of high blood pressure.
  • Sodium: While the human body does require some sodium in order to function in a healthy manner, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn is a major risk for strokes, heart disease, and/or kidney disease.
  • Obesity/Overweight: Being significantly overweight and/or obese increases the risk of developing a wide range of serious health issues, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes as well as high blood pressure.
  • Stress: High levels of stress and/or prolonged stress may manifest itself in a physical sense, causing high cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and/or disturbances in heart rhythm. These conditions can all increase the risk of developing heart disease. As well, for some people, living with high levels of stress may cause them to not get enough rest, a proper diet, regular physical exercise etc. which in turn are all factors that can elevate the risks of heart disease.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes occurs when insulin does not control the level of sugar in the body, either because not enough insulin is produced or because the body does not react properly to the insulin that is produced. Insulin is then required to break down sugar in the body. Diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and strokes, particularly for those whose sugar levels are poorly controlled. Diabetes can result in poor circulation caused by damage to the blood vessels.
The third and final blog in this series will provide information on how to lower the risks of cardiovascular disease as well as the current treatment methods; this blog will be available within the next 10-14 days.
 

posted on Friday, February 26, 2010 4:58:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Tuesday, February 16, 2010
                 
Canadians all across the country spent the weekend celebrating Valentine's Day on Saturday. And while the majority of men and women enjoyed affairs of the heart this weekend not enough are taking care of their heart. In fact, Health Canada states that although mortality rates have been reduced in the past forty years, heart disease is still one of the leading causes of death in Canadians. 1.6 millions Canadians are estimated to be living with either heart disease or those who are living with the effects of a stroke.

Anyone who gets a diagnosis for heart/cardiovascular disease should know that this disease is preventable and manageable, especially when it comes to making changes for a healthier lifestyle. There are 6 different types of cardiovascular disease (cardiovascular disease refers to more than one disease of the circulatory system, including the heart and blood vessels, whether the blood vessels are affecting the lungs, brain, kidneys, etc. These 6 are the leading cause of death in Canadians:
 
  • Ischemic Heart Disease: This is the most common type of cardiovascular disease in Canadians and other industrialized countries; this refers to problems with the circulation of blood to the heart muscle. A partial blockage of one or more of the coronary arteries can result in a lack of enough oxygenated blood (ischemia) which then causes symptoms such as angina (chest pain) and dyspnea (shortness of breath).An artery's complete blockage causes necrosis (damage to the tissues) and/or a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • Cerebrovascular (Stroke): This refers to a problem with the circulation of blood in the blood vessels of the brain. A blockage with effects lasting less than 24 hours is known as a transient ischemic attack. Complete blockage with long-term effects is known as a cerebrovascular thrombosis (clot). It is also common for a blood vessel in the brain bursting which results in long term effects on health.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease: This disease affects the circulation found primarily in the legs; patients with this disease typically complain of pain in their calves, especially when walking.
  • Heart Failure: This occurs when the pumping action of the heart cannot provide enough blood to the rest of the body as it is needed, resulting in damage to the heart muscle (i.e. from a heart attack) or from excessive, chronic abuse of alcohol, or because of a heart muscle known as cardiomyopathy. People with heart failure usually complain of shortness of breath as well as leg swelling.
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease: This was once more common among Canadians, but now is more prevalent in many poor countries. This disease begins in childhood with a bacterial infection which affects joints and heart valves; the heart problems appear many years later, in which often the heart valves require to be replaced via surgery. Other infections can also occur attacking the inner tissues of the heart including valves (endocarditic) and the outer tissues overlying the heart (pericarditis).
  • Congenital Heart Disease: This begins because of a problem with the structure of the heart due to a birth defect. These anatomical defects can be as minor as a small hole in one of the inside walls of the heart or they can be as major and complex which can affect the way blood flows through the heart and lungs. Some congenital heart problems can be fatal unless immediately corrected by surgery, others cause disability in varying degrees and can be treated by surgery later in life with either one or more surgeries.
This blog dealt with identifying the major types of cardiac disease; the next blog will address treatment and identification issues surrounding cardiac disease.

posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 4:29:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Tuesday, January 26, 2010
                 
Many Canadians experience what is known as 'the winter blues'. Shorter daylight hours, combined with the anticlimactic feeling once the holiday season is over, can make people feel somewhat dejected. While feeling blue is a normal human reaction to life, some people experience clinical depression throughout the winter months. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and can be quite problematic. While it is normal and healthy for all people to experience some forms of feeling mildly depressed during the winter months, SAD is a form of clinical depression that is triggered by the winter season.

People who are suffering from SAD experience such symptoms as:

•    Feeling down constantly;
•    Low energy;
•    Sleep difficulties (either not being able to sleep or oversleeping);
•    Appetite difficulties, including sudden cravings for foods that are high in carbohydrates;
•    Lack of interest in what is happening in life and activities that were normally enjoyed;
•    Concentration difficulties and difficulties in processing information;
•    Feelings of depression, hopelessness, and/or anxiety;
•    Social withdrawal;
•    Weight gain.

Researchers believe that SAD is the result of the days becoming shorter in the winter months. Studies have suggested that SAD is more prevalent in northern countries; this is a result of winter days being shorter in the more northern countries. It is estimated that two to three percent of the population of Ontario suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder every year. As well, studies have shown that up to 100,000 people who reside in British Columbia experience SAD every year. A much larger percentage of the Canadian population suffers from the 'winter blahs' with symptoms very similar to SAD, but not to the extent of fitting the criteria for clinical depression.

The current typical treatment for SAD is light therapy, also known as phototherapy. This requires the person experiencing the symptoms of SAD to be exposed to bright artificial light. This treatment mimics the person being exposed to the level of sunlight normally experienced during the summer months. These light boxes can be purchased and used in the person's home; the majority of people have a significant positive result from as little as 30 minutes a day of being exposed to a special fluorescent light box. The most common ‘dose’ of light is 10,000 lux. Lux is a measure of light intensity. Typically, indoor light is under 400 lux; a cloudy day is typically 3,000 lux; a sunny bright day is typically more than 50,000.

Portable light boxes are safe and are now commercially available for those who experience the symptoms of SAD and typically cost between $200 and $400. The side effects of using a light box are usually quite mild; some people may experience nausea, headaches, eye strain, and/or feeling 'edgy' when they first start to use light therapy. These negative feelings usually do not last long and will go away as the therapy progresses. Anti-depressant medications may also be effective for those who are experiencing severe reactions to the lack of sunlight.

If you are experiencing these symptoms during the winter months, consult with your health care professional about whether or not light therapy may be beneficial for you. Also check your individual and/or group health plan to see if the cost of a fluorescent light box is covered through your health insurance.

posted on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 2:01:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Thursday, January 7, 2010
                 
Travelers in Canada and the United States are experiencing delays in North American airports due to the recent incident aboard a Northwest Airlines flight. The flight had originated from Amsterdam and was scheduled to land in Detroit. A Nigerian man attempted to ignite an incendiary device on the flight Christmas Day, but succeeded only in starting a small fire. An Al Queda group in Yemen is claiming responsibility for the failed attack.

The Canadian government has announced that it has ordered 44 full-body scanners. Passengers departing from major Canadian airports and flying to the United States will then have a choice of either being scanned or submitting to a physical ‘pat down’ by an airport guard. The first dozen of the full-body scanners are due to be delivered by the end of next week and be operational by March. Airports in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax and possibly Gander are the first Canadian cities to receive the scanners. Other unspecified locations will receive scanners in the later months of 2010. Until the scanners are operational the Minister of State for Transport is recommending that all passengers traveling to the United States through Canada be automatically subjected to the secondary screening program. This would entail passengers being asked to submit to a physical pat-down or a full-body scan in addition to the already existing security measures.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has indicated that it will follow the recommendations of the federal privacy commissioner:
  • That the body scanners will be used only when a passenger fails a metal detector and then refuses a physical pat-down;
  • That the screening officers must be in a different room than the passenger and must not wear/have any identifying information.
The scan requires the passenger to pass through a stand-up probe that looks similar to a phone booth and takes approximately one minute. It works by projecting low level millimeter wave radio frequency energy over and around the passenger’s body. It is capable of peering beneath clothing to project a graphic three dimensional image of the person onto a computer screen in a remote room. There the security officer can detect weapons or explosive devices hidden beneath the clothing. The scan has already been approved for use in the United Kingdom as well as the Netherlands. In Canada the scan will not be used on anyone under the age of 18, due to the fears that the resulting images could possibly amount to child pornography.

For Canadians traveling to the United States, be advised that the new security measures will make wait times longer; allow for plenty of time to pass through Customs as well as the security checks. It is also advisable to call ahead and ask what exactly will the rules are regarding carry-on luggage and other items, i.e. laptop computers, cell phones.

posted on Thursday, January 7, 2010 4:39:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, December 7, 2009
                 

With the Christmas season upon Canadians, alcohol can factor into many of the seasonal parties and functions. However, for women who are pregnant alcohol consumption can cause serious defects in the unborn child. It is estimated that nine babies for every 1,000 that are born in Canada have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which can cause birth defects and/or developmental disabilities.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term that describes the range of disabilities and/or diagnoses that are a result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy; impact of FASD varies from child to child. The degree of disability and birth defects usually depends on the amount of alcohol that was consumed, how often it was consumed and at what stage of the pregnancy it was consumed, as well as the health status of the pregnant mother. It should be noted that no amount of alcohol is considered safe for pregnant women .

It is estimated that more than 3,000 babies in Canada are born each year with FASD, and approximately 300,000 Canadians are currently living with some form of FASD. Research suggests that the cases of FASD are higher in aboriginal communities as well as rural, remote Northern communities. However, FASD has been found in all communities in Canada regardless of location as well as financial status.

FASD causes mild to severe health problems for those who suffer from it. It can impact delays in development, cause intellectual problems and well as problems learning how to socialize with others. Some common examples of FASD are:

  • Learning disabilities (particularly in mathematical concepts);
  • Difficulty in understanding that actions have consequences;
  • Depression;
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder;
  • Physical disabilities such as kidney problems and internal organ problems;
  • Skeletal abnormalities, i.e. facial deformities.

FASD can also cause behavioral problems such as:

  • Difficulties in handling money and/or telling time;
  • Difficulties in reasoning and being able to competently think problems through;
  • Difficulties in learning from past experiences and not repeating the same mistakes over and over;
  • Difficulties in scheduling, i.e. remembering appointments;
  • Difficulty in maintaining socially appropriate behaviors;
  • Difficulties in everyday tasks, i.e. paying rent, grocery shopping, job performance.

People with FASD can also develop secondary disabilities; early diagnosis is essential for being able to access professional help and on-going supports. These secondary disabilities can include such issues as:

  • Mental health issues;
  • Poor performance in school or completion of education;
  • Problems with the law;
  • Chronic unemployment;
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse;
  • Homelessness.

If FASD is suspected, it is vital that a doctor trained in this issue do a medical diagnosis in order to rule out other medical conditions that are usually treatable. A medical diagnosis of FASD involves a team of doctors who are trained to assess psychological, speech as well as everyday functioning of the person. While there is no cure for FASD, proper medical intervention can help to provide those with FASD to lead more productive and satisfying lives.

In order to prevent FASD it is recommended that all women follow these steps:

  • As 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, most women do not realize they are pregnant in the early stages. Therefore, if a woman even suspects she may be pregnant, or is planning to become pregnant, cease all alcohol consumption immediately.
  • For women who are not using birth control but are having sex, avoid consuming alcohol as there is no way of knowing when you may become pregnant.
  • For women who are concerned about their consumption of alcohol, seek the help and advice of your healthcare professional.

It is essential that pregnancy and alcohol consumption are not mixed, since there is no safe amount of consumption during any stage of pregnancy.

posted on Monday, December 7, 2009 2:40:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, November 30, 2009
                 
When it comes to quality of lifestyle, Canada is the top destination for expats, according to HSBC Bank International. Following Canada as a desirable location for expats is Australia and Thailand in the number 2 and 3 spots. Expats rated qualities such as accommodation, food, entertainment, social and family life, education, childcare, healthcare, household goods, working hours and commuting distances, health, hobbies, among other things. Canada was also highly rated when it came to such issues as making friends and integrating easily into their new communities.

According to the study, the top ten locations for expats determined by quality of life are:

•    Canada
•    Australia
•    Thailand
•    Singapore
•    Bahrain
•    South Africa
•    France
•    United States
•    Spain
•    Hong Kong

The United Kingdom scored very poorly in the votes regarding quality of life, and was at the bottom of the list of considered countries. Canada also scored very highly when it came to:

•    Enrolling children into the Canadian public school system;
•    Being able to set up finances, utilities and healthcare in their new country;
•    Finding a new place to live;
•    Learning the local language;
•    Making friends not only with other expats, but with local residents.

Over half the expats that participated in this study have lived abroad for more than five years. Canada placed third in regards to countries for settling down; South Africa and Thailand are first and second. Expats under the age of 35 are most likely to return home at least once a year; three-quarters of those surveyed make at least an annual trip home. Those expats who live in Brazil are most likely to go home at least once a year, according to almost 94% of those surveyed. The study also showed that the longer an expat has remained in their adoptive country, the less likely they are to return home. Only one third of expats who have lived away from their original country for 10 years or more reported they have not gone home for more than 2 years.

One of the factors that expats consider when choosing a new country is the quality and cost of healthcare in their adoptive country. While Canada does provide basic, free healthcare for all of its legal residents and/or citizens, newcomers to Canada may face a 3 month waiting period when they first arrive before they are eligible to receive their provincial health card. In order to avoid costly medical bills during these 3 months, outside health insurance is recommended. In some provinces a simple visit to a walk-in clinic can start at $50.00 just for an initial examination and does not include prescription medications, further follow-up medical care, etc. Visitors to Canada insurance is an ideal health insurance plan to bridge this gap in order to have optimal health coverage during those months where the newcomer is uninsured.

posted on Monday, November 30, 2009 3:23:19 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Sunday, November 8, 2009
                 
The H1N1 virus is now being held responsible for the death of 31 Ontario residents; last week an apparently health 13 year old boy died within 48 hours of displaying symptoms of the swine flu. An investigation is also currently underway to determine whether or not H1N1 was also responsible for the death of a 12 year old girl from Waterloo. A total of 101 people in Canada have died as a result of this pandemic so far. As a result of the 'second wave' of swine flu in Ontario, people are now lining up to receive the H1N1 vaccine throughout the province, sometimes waiting the whole day to receive the flu shot.

Access to the vaccine is currently being limited to people who qualify as a 'priority status'. This includes all children between the ages of 6 months to less than 5 years, health care workers, pregnant women, and people who live in remote and/or isolated communities.  How the vaccine is distributed depends on the province of residence, as each province decides on how best to serve their citizens. Provincial health cards are not required at flu shot clinics, but proof of residence must be shown in order to prove that the person is indeed a resident of that province.

The H1N1 vaccine is an adjuvanted vaccine, with the exception of pregnant women who should receive a non-adjuvanted vaccine. This does not necessarily mean that the adjuvanted vaccine is harmful to pregnant women, it just simply hasn't been tested for this specific group; if there is no alternative, pregnant women can get the adjuvanted vaccine. An adjuvanted vaccine is a vaccine that includes a substance that boosts the individual's immune system as well as increases their response to the vaccine. The non-adjuvanted vaccine does not have this 'booster' element. Immunity to the H1N1 virus should begin approximately 10 days after the person has been vaccinated.

 Along with vaccinations, some regions in Ontario are also implementing swine flu screening centers in order to relieve the stresses of hospital emergency rooms. Community health units will be opening flu assessment centers; patients can receive medical advice, receive antiviral medications if necessary, and be referred to further medical help if deemed necessary. The majority of people who have already or will contract H1N1 will not need further medical treatment past a prescription, if that. Those with healthy lifestyles and a healthy immune system will simply become ill, but with no life-threatening consequences.

Check your specific region for what is available, and for vaccination centers. The vaccine is currently being distributed to physicians as well; your doctor may be able to book you an appointment for your flu shots.

posted on Sunday, November 8, 2009 3:13:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Thursday, October 22, 2009
                 

As the previous article stated, there are several types of laser eye surgery: PRK, Lasik and Lasek procedures.

LASIK usually has less post-operative pain, and there is a greater risk of complication due to the cornea being cut into. This includes:

  • Mild to significant dry eyes, which can affect vision;
  • Poor quality of night vision due to halos and glare, thus affecting the ability to drive safely at night;
  • Corneal ectasia, a serious condition caused by the weakening and bulging of the cornea. Severe cases of this condition can require a corneal transplant or implant.

Both the LASIK and PRK procedures carry the risk of corneal infection, known as infectious keratitis. This infection can result in a significant loss of vision. LASEK surgery reduces the risks such as weakening of the eye and dry eyes. As with any other surgical procedure, complication risks are increased for people with certain health conditions and/or lifestyles. When contemplating eye laser surgery, have a detailed consultation with the surgeon about:

  • Your medical history and current health conditions. Make sure the surgeon is made aware of such conditions (yours and family history) as lupus, diabetes, keloid formation and any eye diseases, i.e. herpes simplex, glaucoma, dry eyes, eyelid infections, and/or previous eye surgeries.
  • Your current lifestyle. For people who engage regularly in sports, where it is likely to be hit in the face, after LASIK there is a risk that the flap could dislocate. This risk remains for years after the laser surgery.
  • Your career plans. Certain occupations (i.e. pilot, police officer) have specific vision requirements, most of which can be obtained through laser surgery. It is advisable to consult with not only the surgeon, but with members of the occupation to make sure the requirements are met.

As well as considering the benefits and risks of laser eye surgery, it is important that people are realistic about what they will achieve through the procedure. As people age, so do their eyes, it is possible that in the future some people may need reading glasses or other corrective eyewear again, especially those over the age of 40. There also is the possibility of having to have a second procedure if the right amount of correction is not achieved through the first surgery.

Cost is also a consideration for eye laser surgery. Before considering this option, consult with your health insurance professional to see what they cover. Most health insurance does however cover the costs of contact lenses and/or corrective eyewear. Check your group health insurance and/or individual health insurance plan.

posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009 3:40:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, October 5, 2009
                 

Every year, thousands of Canadians contemplate laser eye surgery in order to correct their vision. This surgery is done in anticipation of the person no longer being required to use contact lenses and/or prescription glasses in order to have better vision. Canadians who are contemplating laser surgery should be well informed of not the benefits of these procedures, but also the risks.

Laser eye surgery is most commonly used to correct vision problems such as:

  • Myopia, also known as near-sightedness;
  • Hyperopia: also known as far-sightedness;
  • Astigmatism: when vision is distorted when looking at objects at any distance;
  • Presbyopia: when the person is unable to focus on nearby objects.

All of these vision conditions are caused by problems with the eye focuses an image on the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye). A large part of the eye’s ability to focus is dependent on the shape of the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye). A surgeon will use a laser device to make permanent changes to the shape of the cornea. Most often used is the Excimer laser, which produces a ultraviolet light beam which vaporizes tissue, thus altering the shape of the cornea. This usually corrects mild to moderate refractive errors in the eye.

There are several types of laser eye surgery that are commonly performed in Canada:

  1. PRK (Photo-Refractive Keractectomy): the outer layer of the cornea is removed with a surgical blade or blunt instrument. A computer-guided laser beam is then used to vaporize tiny amounts of tissue that are under the surface of the cornea. This procedure removes just enough tissue in order to reshape the cornea in a way that the vision is now corrected. The healing process of this procedure is usually completed within one week.
  2. LASIK (Laser Assisted in situ Keratomileusis): This procedure is more complicated than PRK. A flap is cut in the cornea with either a sharp blade or a laser. The flap is then lifted and a computer-guided laser removed specific calculated amounts of tissue from the inside layers of the cornea. The flap is then put back. Wavefront technology may be used in this procedure, wherein a detailed map of the eye is produced. The healing time for this procedure is generally less than the time for PRK.
  3. LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis): This procedure is a variation of both PRK and LASIK. The outer layer of the cornea is cut and then alcohol is used to loosen and lift it in a single layer. A laser beam is then directed at the tissue under the epithelium. This procedure is best suited to people who have vision problems that require minor correction; the healing period is usually two weeks. As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk taken (though quite small), that complications can arise. Each certain procedure does carry with it a small percentage of complications. For those contemplating PRK, the risks include: • Moderate to severe pain for the first several days; • Hazy vision during the healing; this generally will clear within the first week after the surgical procedure; • Regression. In some cases the eye can regress to its previous refractive error, this usually will occur during the first 6 months. In these cases the person may need a second (enhancement) surgery, or may have to once again wear corrective eyewear or contact lenses.

See our next blog article for the conclusion about laser eye surgery.

posted on Monday, October 5, 2009 3:40:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, September 21, 2009
                 
Vancouver Canada will be the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games that will be running from January 22 until March 21, 2010. The actual event schedule has not yet been released, and will not be until much closer to the actual games date. Vancouver is estimated to have 350,000 visitors to their city for this spectacular event; 10,000 worldwide media representatives be also be attending to cover the games.

Vancouver has some brand new venues that will be showcased during the Olympics, including:

•    Richmond Olympic Oval: Opened in December of 2008, this multi-use waterfront facility will be hosting all the speed skating events.
•    Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre: Will be opening in February of 2009 and will be hosting all of the curling events.
•    Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park: Opened in 2008, this will be the first Olymic venue to include all three Nordic events on one site: Cross-Country skiing, Ski Jumping and Biathlon.
•    Whistler Sliding Centre: Opened in December of 2008, this venue boasts the fastest track in the world and will host the Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton competitions.

Non-Canadian residents must purchase their tickets for through an Authorized Ticket Retailer from their respective National Olympic Committee. Although the majority of accommodations have already been reserved, there will be rooms available closer to the competition dates. For those who have yet to book their trip, it is wise to do so as soon as possible. This includes not only accommodations, but flights, car rentals, etc.

For those who are planning to visit British Columbia for the Olympics, but are not Canadian residents, it is important to realize that they will need travel insurance for their stay here. The 'free' Canadian health care system has been in the international news quite frequently; people may not understand that this does not apply to visitors to Canada. Non-Canadian residents who require medical treatment in Canada and do not have the proper travel insurance will be required to pay out-of-pocket; for a trip to a Canadian hospital emergency room, this can quickly add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in medical bills. Even the average cost of visiting a walk-in clinic in Canada can start at over $50.00, which covers just the basic visit; any additional medications/treatments will be additional.

HealthQuotes.ca advises all non-Canadians to purchase Visitors to Canada insurance in order to make sure that your visit to our great country does not end in unexpected medical bills that can be very expensive. Travel insurance is quite inexpensive, and well worth the peace of mind should something go wrong.

posted on Monday, September 21, 2009 3:54:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
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