Living the Dream 82. – Health Insurance

“No health insurance?” A shake of the head.

The pedant in me wanted to point out that we had chosen to self-insure rather than buy the health insurance policy offered to us. However, I felt it best to nod.

Alien Registration

In order to live in Cyprus, it’s a legal requirement to obtain a Certificate of Registration, and to get one of those, one needs, amongst other requirements, health insurance.

We were asked to undergo a medical examination, where we both discovered that our heart rates were low. A surprise, since we had both been having regular medicals in the UK, and I wear an Apple Watch and therefore have a lot of heart data to hand. We had been sent to a specific Doctor by the insurance company, and it was clear to me that his role was to generate exclusions – improving the risk profile. He did a great job, excluding multiple conditions, and a weighting factor was going to be applied to the price. The Premium for the two of us was going to be, shall we say, “x”. We are in Year 2, so would have paid “2x” to date. We did not take the policy, rather taking the “immigrant policy” which only covers emergency treatment.

Back Troubles

Margaret is being treated for a problematic back. As I type, she is in bed, recovering from a complicated four hour operation on her spine, at a private hospital. The operation was a success, and fingers crossed, her recovery will, in 6 weeks or so, be complete. The total cost is expected to be “4x”. As per the picture, she is being nursed by Spice.

Of course, this is an over-simplification. The insurance premiums would have increased one year to the next. Certain treatments or tests may have been excluded. Mags had experience mild back pain in the past, so who knows what the underwriter would have made of that.

However, in broad terms, if Mags and I do not require any further private treatment over the next two years, then we will have broken even or be marginally better off than had we taken out the insurance.

Does this mean that self-insurance is better value than commercial insurance? Not necessarily. None of us has a crystal ball. I don’t rule out us taking out a policy in future. However, self-insured, we had no excess and no exclusions. Obviously – we only spent money when we needed to, rather than annually.

Almost heretical to say so – but some times it makes sense to self-insure. If funds are available, then self-insuring is a realistic option.

Whatever the choice, it’s always a gamble.

My writing is supported by people like you. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

The Camino


Been a bit quiet here.

Mostly because I have been blogging here.

I’m off on a walk. In memory of the man in the collage above, Terry Anderson.

I’m not alone, I will be walking with friends. Laurent Gauduchau, Jean-Christophe Poussou and Stuart Smith. We all knew Terry through the Prague Barbarians Rugby Club. Last year, after a punch-up with cancer, Terry passed away at Our Lady’s Hospice in Blackrock, Dublin. If you have a pound or two spare, then I know those people would put it to incredibly good use. You can donate here.

Keen to show their support (or possibly to laugh at us) two more Prague Barbarians are coming to walk the first day with us. Franck Neel and Germain Gouranton.

The Camino, particularly the route that we are walking, the ‘Frances’, is a well-trodden route. We will be far from alone. The route is 500 miles give or take, and I intend to walk it all, but in stages.

This year, the four are starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and walking hard for six days, staying in hostels along the way. With luck, we may get as far as Logrono; a hundred miles. We may not. We shall see what we shall see.

I set off on Saturday, less than 48 hours from now. I’m flying to Bilbao, where I’ll meet Stuart, who is coming in from Dublin. We will then transfer to SJPDP where the French contingent await us.

As the day draws nearer, I’m nervous. I have the gear, I have done some training, but I have never tried to walk 100 miles before. Will the knees hold up? Will I hold up the others? Will we grate on each other’s nerves in hours?

Truth is, I don’t know.

Along with the nerves, comes anticipation. It is something that I have never done before. It is challenging. It is different.

That’s kind of cool.

Maybe I’ll write about it.

On camino, I’ll be updating and @frontrowcamino


A plan for a pilgrimage


My last post, I talked about the Camino Francés. The more I thought about it, the more exciting it became. Should we start in Arles? Or Perpignan? Perhaps even Paris? Six weeks walking in France and Spain. What fun!

“Ah Stu”, said Stu “There is not a hope in hell that I am getting a leave pass for six weeks.”

Come to think of it, there was no chance that I would get a leave pass for six weeks either. There is a limit to the patience of the long-suffering Mrs L and abandoning her for six weeks “to go for a walk” would overreach that limit.

What was needed here was a plan.

Starting in St Jean Pied de Port (Basque country) would make for a 500 mile walk to Santiago, that is estimated to take 5 weeks or so. Might we manage a week a year – and finish up the route in 2020? Perhaps, even aim to finish around my 50th birthday in April?

Now, that’s a plan.

A friend told me of a movie, ‘The Way’. Directed by Emilio Estevez. Emilio was struggling for a lead, so he cast his Dad, Martin Sheen. Surely a bit of Hollywood would convince Mrs L that I had not taken leave of my senses? Certainly, I could alleviate any concerns about safety.

Within five minutes of the movie starting, Emilio’s character had wandered off the path and died. Oops.

Gliding over that slight hiccup, provisional approval was sought and obtained on both sides of the Irish Sea.

We have a plan.

We will fly into Bilbao, transfer to SJPDP and then walk ‘The Way’ for six days. On the seventh day, we will head back to Bilbao and return to the real world.