Just went through a heap of old articles and dug up the following:

Lee Hui Chieh, Wed, Aug 08, 2007 The Straits Times

Everyone knows a horror story. A simple procedure turns into a nightmare of complications, inflating a hospital stay from days to months, and the cost in the process.

That was what happened to a Myanmar patient, Madam Daw Tin Nyunt, whose two-day stay in a private hospital stretched to 344 after a failed heart stent implant.

Her hospital bill also ballooned to $560,000, from the initial $15,227 estimate given by the hospital. It won’t happen to you?

Not if you make sure you are adequately covered, say financial advisers.

They say there are three kinds of insurance plans one should have to make sure that you won’t be knocked for a loop by health-care costs: MediShield or enhanced Shield plans (to take care of hospitalisation costs), disability insurance and critical illness plans (to ensure you have an income if you can no longer work for a prolonged period).

MediShield and Shield plans

If you have nothing else, have at least a plan which will take care of hospitalisation costs. The top must-have is MediShield or – its enhanced versions – the Shield plans, said Mr Eddy Cheong, 37, who heads independent financial advisory firm Providend’s family office services.

MediShield is a basic hospitalisation and surgical plan that all Central Provident Fund (CPF) account holders have, unless they have opted out, or upgraded to a Shield plan.

After a revamp in 2005, MediShield now pays for 60 per cent of hospital bills, on average.

Shield plans, which are offered by private insurers and approved by CPF, have also improved. Some ‘as charged’ plans no longer place limits on the amount that can be claimed each day for hospital stay and procedures.

You can even buy a rider to pay for the portions of the bill that the policy doesn’t cover, such as the deductible. So a carefully chosen ‘as charged’ plan could reimburse as much as the entire bill.

Policies are usually pegged to hospital ward classes. Choose a plan based on the type of services you expect, and what you can afford. Mr Cheong’s advice for buying MediShield or Shield plans: Go for the best you can afford.

He said: ‘It’s a question of insurability. If you go for something more high-level, you can downgrade any time you want.

‘But if you start low, and want to upgrade later, there will be medical underwriting.’

Underwriting assesses whether a person is healthy enough to qualify for coverage.

Since you are more likely to develop medical conditions later in life that insurers would shy away from covering, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, you may not be able to upgrade to a better plan then. So, buy the best one you can afford while you are young and healthy.

There is another reason you should consider a better plan.

If the Government should introduce means testing in future – meaning giving subsidies based on actual income rather than on your choice of ward class – you could end up having to stay in a more costly ward than you wanted. A policy which is pegged to a lower class will not give you enough coverage.

Critical illness plans and disability insurance

Once you have your hospitalisation cover, think about that other big headache people face after becoming seriously sick – loss of income during the period of illness and recovery.

This is where disability insurance and critical illness plans come in.

While not as essential as Medishield or Shield plans, both should be taken up, Mr Cheong said.

They will pay out a sum of money to compensate for income loss, or to pay for nursing services, medical equipment and supplies and even tonics and alternative treatment such as traditional Chinese medicine.

Most insurance companies carry critical illness plans which cover a range of conditions. You should compare different plans from different companies to see which best suits your wallet.

Mr Cheong recommends insuring yourself for a payout of two to five years’ annual income if you become critically ill.

The other should-have is disability insurance, which spans your working years. This will pay a monthly allowance if you become disabled and cannot work for a prolonged period.

This is different from total and permanent disability – much rarer and more serious – which is usually covered as part of a life insurance policy.

He advises insuring for a payout of 50 to 75 per cent of your current monthly salary.

Take note of the fine print though. Such plans lapse once you are out of work or out of the country for a certain period of time.

As you are nearing retirement age, you can then take up insurance for long-term care or disability, such as ElderShield. Like taking the correct medication for a disease, buying the right insurance at the right time will cure your wallet’s woes.

Old, but powerful. This article underlines the importance of one’s primary insurance – the medical insurance, also known as the hospitalization and surgical insurance.

It is a well-known fact that healthcare costs are increasing by the day, and by insuring oneself early in this area, one is ensuring his or her financial security in the future.

  1. Thats one of that article which it is worth to bookmark. Really nice post.

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