Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bye Bye Medical insurance

In Singapore, medical insurance is voluntary although medical savings is compulsory.  I was on this basic medical insurance (basic as we could upgrade this scheme into one with higher payout) since I started working years ago.  In 1995, I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse (MVP) during a routine employment checkup.  Apparently, this was a genetic condition (since birth) but guess it was not picked up since I was asymptomatic all along.  Since then, all the insurance policies I took up would exclude heart valve surgery as a critical illness for me due to this pre-existing illness.  My insurance agent advised me to keep my basic medical insurance scheme since it would cover heart valve surgery given it was contracted before I was diagnosed with MVP.  It was a wrong move looking at it now.

While I was in the hospital waiting for the bone marrow result, the doc asked whether I was covered by medical insurance.  I asked about the cost of bone marrow transplant if I needed one and was told for first 3 months, the estimated cost could range between $150,000 to $250,000 if it was done at the government hospital assuming no complication.  There were other costs like medications and follow-up for the rest of the life. It was then I checked up my medical insurance and realised how inadequate it would be when a major illness stuck you.  Not only there were conditions about deductible and co-payment, there was a cap on total $50,000 payout a year and a total $200,000 payout per policy. And when I was diagnosed with lupus and wonder whether any insurance companies would underwrite me for hospitalisation and medical costs, I realised that even for basic medical insurance I had, there was this condition that the person must not be diagnosed with systemic lupus 12 months ago before the effective date of the policy.  That means I would have no chance ever from now to find any insurance companies that would cover my medical cost since I am a high risk customer and if they really do, the premium I need to pay would be exorbitantly high that I must as well underwrite the risk myself! 

Morale of my story: buy a comprehensive medical and hospitalisation insurance (better if it comes with payout for loss of income) while you are young and fit (i.e before any pre-existing illness)!  No one is invincible but when you are ill, at least you have one less worry.   

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