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No guarantee of medical exemptions to the US for unvaccinated people needing emergency treatment

Medical exemptions cannot be guaranteed for people who need treatment in the US, the Bermuda Hospitals Board warns (File photograph)

No guarantees can be given on medical exemptions for unvaccinated people for emergency treatment in the US after the country introduces strict Covid-19 travel policies.

The warning came from the Bermuda Hospitals Board and the US Consulate after Kim Wilson, the health minister said earlier this week that non-vaccinated people from Bermuda could be blocked from entry to the US – even if they needed emergency medical treatment.

A spokeswoman for the BHB said: “We have no indication that the US and Canada will make exemptions for unvaccinated patients who require emergency care in their jurisdictions.

“This will greatly limit the options for unvaccinated patients who require this service.”

She added: “Air ambulance lift to other countries may not be a viable option for many of the conditions we transfer patients for.

“This is due to length of time for transport and/or the ability of the overseas facility to accept our patients.”

The spokeswoman said that the BHB advice was for anyone able to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to get the jabs.

A spokeswoman for the US Consulate confirmed: “Waivers or exceptions to the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals will be very limited.

“We have no further details to announce at this time.

“We will provide additional updates as more information becomes available.”

The consulate added that fully vaccinated air arrivals from foreign countries in the US would still have to show proof of a clear Covid-19 test taken inside three days of departure.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health earlier this week issued a warning to people without the coronavirus vaccination.

Ms Wilson said: “There has been no development on how those that require medical care in the United States will be treated.

“Therefore, I encourage those who are not vaccinated to start to consider their options if the United States determines that exemptions will not apply for unvaccinated persons with medical needs.”

Insurance companies added they awaited final guidelines on the US travel policy, which is scheduled to come into force on November 8.

A spokeswoman for BF&M said: “Specifically, we are looking for official information on medical exemptions for unvaccinated travellers.

“In the event that there are no exceptions to the US travel policy, there are care options available for our insureds.

“BF&M’s network of care providers extends to the Caribbean, Canada, and the UK for treatment.

“BF&M works with our overseas case management team to achieve the best clinical care at competitive pricing, regardless of the jurisdiction.

“In the event that patients and their families are impacted by the US guidelines, we advise them to discuss the options available with their health insurers.

“BF&M continues to work with our overseas partners to control costs and keep our insureds’ best interests at heart.”

Peter Muir, the vice president of operations for Argus Americas, added there was “no indication” that the US would allow exemptions to the blanket ban.

But he added: “We are very familiar with facilitating these cases and have coordinated on a case-by-case basis with US providers for members who would be classified as exempt.

“We will continue to work actively with our provider network in the US when filing for an exemption after November and providing the medical documentation needed for approval.

Mr Muir said: “We work very closely with our air ambulance vendors and providers and have been successful in creating exceptions for our members.”

He added Argus would continue to work on behalf of its clients in an “ever-changing landscape of travel restrictions” to provide “access to the best possible care.”

* Are you affected? E-mail news@royalgazette.com

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Published October 16, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated October 16, 2021 at 9:00 am)

No guarantee of medical exemptions to the US for unvaccinated people needing emergency treatment

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