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Air Travel Tips for Travelers with Health Issues or Disabilities

Travel by air for people with health issues, handicaps, disabilities or special needs, can be challenging. The following air travel tips will help make your flight and trip, whether domestic or international, easier, cheaper and safer.

When making your travel reservations, request any carts, wheelchair services or any other transportation you’ll need. Fully describe your limitations and needs. Get your airline ticket and boarding pass well ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in any lines. You’ll be able to arrange travel at a discount, get better travel deals, and avoid last minute travel headaches.

Talk with your airline representative or travel agent regarding the type of restrooms that are on the airplane. Call your airport and find out as much information as possible about the restrooms and handicapped parking at the airport.

You’ll need to find out how you’ll be boarding the airplane at each of the airports involved in your trip. You may need another type of airplane or alternative route so you’ll have Jetways, or jet bridges, into the plane from the airport and not have to worry about stairs.

One year my mother and I were going to fly out of the San Jose, California airport and discovered after we arrived that we had to go outside on the ground level with the wheelchair to the tarmac. Four airline employees had to carry my mother in the wheelchair up the steep steps to board the plane. This might be impossible if there are weight issues.

Think about what seat arrangement will work best for you needs. Would an aisle seat make it more convenient to get to the restroom? You’ll want to avoid sitting in the emergency exit row. The passengers in this row may be asked to help others in an emergency situation.

Let the airlines and flight attendants know if you have any assisting devices. Find out the best way to store them so they arrive without damage.

Always keep in mind what you can do easily and without assistance, as well as situations that would require help.

Can you transfer to seats by yourself? Will you need a transfer board or assistance from airline staff?

Consider hiring a travel nurse if you have serious health or medical issues. There are traveling nurses networks.

Can you describe your wheelchair, scooter or walker, dimensions, weight, type of tires, type of batteries, etc.? You may need to take along spare batteries. You also may need to rent or buy a travel wheelchair.

Make sure to mention to your travel agent or airline representative any assisting devices you may need or already have like canes and crutches. Do you need a slow pace or are you a slow walker?

If you will be traveling through different time zones, how will jet lag affect your situation?

Consider how the following will be of concern during your trip and discuss with your travel agent: upper body strength, communication ability, speech issues, voice issues, vision problems, hearing problems, heat issues, medication needs, oxygen requirements, and dietary requirements such as gluten-free meals.

Try to arrange or book your air travel through experienced travel agencies or tour operators that specialize in disabled travel. There are a large number of agencies throughout the U. S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries.

Just in case you need them, it’s also good to know if there are any travel agencies that specialize in disabled travel at your destination, for return travel, local resources or travel services.

At the airport let airline boarding personnel know that you may need extra time to board the plane. Sit close to the door at the gate so you’re called first and then board at a comfortable pace.

After the plane has landed, never get off the plane until you see or have your assisting device, wheelchair, travel wheelchair, etc. Flight attendants have to stay on the airplane until the last passenger leaves. They will help you while you’re on the plane but once you’re off the plane they won’t be able to help you.

Make sure you carry your medications and back-up prescriptions with you onto the plane, along with doctors’ names, addresses, fax numbers for faxing prescriptions, phone numbers, medical diagnosis, names and dosages of medications you’re taking and any allergies you have.

Photocopy passports, airline tickets, American Express Travelers Cheques, credit cards, any important papers.

Carry your health insurance information with you on the plane. Know what you’ll do if you encounter a health problem or medical emergency on your trip. Get travel insurance to ensure less costly medical assistance. These emergency bills may not be covered under your health insurance policy. It’ll ease your mind to have this back-up travel insurance and prevent costly emergency medical charges on your trip. Emergency medical costs can run considerably higher than standard medical fees.

These air travel tips should provide good insurance and help make your airplane travel, with health issues, handicaps, disabilities or special needs, easier, safer and cheaper.

Why American Health Care is So Expensive

Obesity is America’s number one health problem. It commonly leads to diabetes, Type 2, heart disease, kidney disease, and sometimes cancer.

According to a recent report quoted by the New York Times, obese citizens spend about 42% more per year on health care than normal-weight Americans.

“Obesity, and with it diabetes, are the only major health problems that are getting worse in this country, and they’re getting worse rapidly,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control, said.

If obesity is driving up health care costs, what can we do about it? Ask doctors to charge less? Make the drug
companies provide free diabetes medicines and diet pills to obese people? Ask the insurance companies to provide their services for free?

Maybe we could nationalize the whole health care system and force all American taxpayers share the cost equally of caring for these unfortunate Americans who are the victims of…what? The restaurant industry! That’s it! Fast food and Doritos did it to them! Lays potato chips: “Bet you can’t have just one!” They dared these poor souls to become addicted to their deadly products–and it worked!.

I’m sorry. I’m being ridiculous to make a point. My point is, our health care system is buckling under the weight of
the expensive round-about procedures we do and drugs we provide to counteract the effects of what people are doing to themselves.

Digging Our Graves With A Fork & Knife
We are a nation of food-aholics. Most of us don’t eat real foods prepared at home from fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Most of what we eat has to center around either some animal meat and fat and lots of highly refined carbohydrates. Very few vitamins and minerals are left in our food–and almost no fiber. And we wonder why we get fat , have diabetes, heart attacks, and require expensive medical care.

My medical care costs me nothing but the time it takes to do some daily exercises and eat right. Chalk
it up partially to vanity–I never wanted to let myself get overweight or suffer the diseases that plagued my family tree.

A big part of my medical care is to eat what science and my conscience tells me I should, rather than stuff that merely tastes good.

But it’s all worth it to me. I’m not pleading with the government to get me health care. Nobody had to inform me that eating too much of the wrong foods would make me sick: I figured it out on my own after reading a few good books and research reports. It wasn’t hard–and it was a benefit for me to stay well.

What would I do about the health of the American people?
The best thing the health care professionals could do is to stop coddling us. Stop treating us like imbeciles.
Tell us the truth. I suspect that if doctors and public health officials leveled with citizens and told them the
golden truth that “We all are about 97% responsible for our own health, based on what we choose to eat,” it might make an impression after a while.

It probably won’t happen, I know, because the fast-food industry and other makers of fat-food(meat packers and the dairy and sugar industries) are in control of our FDA and the US Department of Agriculture. They would scream bloody murder if the public were told the truth about how their food products are the reason our arteries are plugged up with cholesterol and why we’re growing obese.

But, the bottom line is, we don’t have to eat those foods. Nobody is forcing us to eat foods that lead to heart
attacks, breast cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s Disease, colon cancer, etc., etc. If you don’t believe me, then read the medical research that clearly establishes the connection between what we eat and these diseases.

Did you know that there are still pockets of people who still eat traditional diets that are primarily vegetarian–and
they rarely have heart attacks. Their women very rarely get breast cancer. People of these nations live to 90 and 100 years frequently, with sharp minds, good eyesight and they continue to work in their gardens and orchards. They are respected and contributing members of their society. If we chose to eat like these people, we could reduce our need for expensive and dangerous health care.

Here’s a simple truth of economics: If there was no demand for health care because everyone was healthy, then health care would be cheap. It’s a matter of supply and demand. A lot of cardiologists standing around with no triple-bypasses to do would quickly lower their prices. That’s my answer to the high cost of health care: Get healthy!

How do you get healthy? A good starting place to help you understand what’s wrong with our typical American diet is a book by T. Colin Campbell, Jr., PhD, entitled “The China Study.”

Health Care in California

Two scenarios are very personal to me. First example is myself, I am a 47 year old business owner and employee and have worked 3 decades in various careers before choosing to settle in the Medical billing field. For more than 3 decades I have been dealing with a physical disability that I will fight against disabling me. With 5 total hip replacements on one side not to mention the 40 surgeries prior to those replacements.

To most doctors I am a nightmare and to complex a case for many who feel they can not deal with my problem. I have been fortunate over the years to have found a wonderfully skilled surgeon in Willits, Ca. who changed my life and level of pain. He replaced my 5th hip February 2009. However; prior to that I could do nothing but feel the pain and try to continue to work. Why was this? Well, I now have a “Pre-Existing” condition.

What are pre-existing medical conditions?

A medical condition that can disqualify an individual from buying insurance in the private market (non-employer sponsored insurance). if employer based they don’t penalize you for the pre-existing problem although, some may have you wait a certain amount of time before they cover that particular condition. I have never had that problem.

In the short term there is a new health plan in California, federally funded to provide “affordable” coverage for people suffering from preexisting conditions. This is about the only plan I could find that would have somewhat covered me and my condition. This CA plan is called the PCIP (Pre-existing Insurance Plan). Beginning 2014, health insurances will no longer be allowed to deny based on a pre-existing medical condition. For the interim however; they do; which is why I had to go 2 years of falling and suffering from long term pain being the 4th hip was now failing. I could not afford surgery and be expected to pay out of pocket with no coverage nor would I think the hospital would permit me to have it with no up front guarantee of how I would pay. I researched this knowing I was going to be forced to replace this hip in the very near future. This plan not only would leave me with a huge bill after they paid what portion they would have but also, found it difficult to pay the premiums which can run from $127 to over $1,000. monthly based on where you live!

Why is it that I have worked all these years, paid my taxes, and I can’t get medical care without going bankrupt or prove a guaranteed way to pay the hospital just to get through the doors? This is what CA and our American Medical care has come to. If you don’t have money or great coverage don’t bother. Back in the early 80′s I was deemed permanently disabled which meant I did not have to work I received a monetary benefit each month and Medicare coverage after 24 months of long term disability. Now, Medicare did a great job at covering me I kept doing it this way until I could get my physical condition back to where I could work. After rehab I went back to work as this is what I knew I had to do being one, can not survive on Disability benefits!

I worked with no insurance after this because if you work for a number of months/years you no longer get to keep the Medicare medical benefits. I was determined to continue working for as long as I possibly could. I did this for many more years with again, no medical coverage for two reasons, one, It was not required for a small employer to offer me any nor, could I get a private policy that would cover my preexisting condition. I did not need Insurance for anything else I was healthy otherwise and still am.

Thankfully, I was able to get back on the Social security program called the expedited reinstatement that started my medicare coverage back immediately and the monetary. I did not want the monetary as I could still earn a living I just needed to replace this hip soon. I requested our broken system keep the monetary and allow me to continue to work pay in but have the coverage that was not going to bankrupt me to pay for. Social Security said no, I had to have and take the me notary and could only make a certain additional amount of income monthly.

I was baffled why could I not have the coverage since no one would cover me or bankrupt me and they keep the monetary let me continue to work pay taxes etc. Seemed like a win win to me. I realized at that moment just how broken our system really is. It is sad that I feel the people running the system and making these rules are people that have never gone through what many Americans have gone through. The bottom line is this, no money no care, no insurance coverage guarantee no care.! What happened to the days where doctors made home visits without question of how one would pay? Often time the compensation would be some type of commodities which may have been fresh eggs or a freshly baked loaf of bread! Back then money did not come between an ill person and a doctor. Today however; money is the bottom line… If You don’t have any way of paying,, you don’t get medical care. We have become driven by greed not by oath of caring enough.