Early Stage Critical Illness

Like flowers, Life is also impermanent.

Many people lack the understanding of how their Critical Illness (CI) policies work. General perception is that, once you are diagnosed with a critical illness (e.g. cancer, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, etc), you can start claiming from your CI policy. If you think so, you’ll be very disappointed because most CI insurance only cover cases of CI at severe stage; diagnosis at early stage is not entitled for any CI claim. It pays to read the definitions in your policy document, which clearly describe each and every one condition qualified for claims.

For those who have such experience, directly (survivors) or indirectly (family members), you would agree that treating a critical illness needs a lot of money because it is considered long-term care,  from months to years, perhaps. The medical bills are not cheap at all, because of special procedure being carried out, usage of special techniques or machines, medication, etc.

When a critical illness policy is effected, the finances received could be used to pay for :

  • costs of the care and treatment (e.g. therapies, medication);
  • recuperation aids (e.g. motorised bed, braces)
  • debts and household expenses (e.g. loans, credit card debts, education fees);
  • any lost income due to a decreasing ability to work (e.g. unpaid leave)
  • a change in lifestyle (e.g. supplements, special diet).

Now that you have understood the functions of a CI insurance policy, you would be wondering about conditions which don’t fall under “severe or critical” but the early stages of CI, like for cancer, Carcinoma-In-Situ. We all know that the earlier we seek treatment, the higher the probability of survivorship. Yes, your Hospitalisation and Surgical insurance would provide cover for the surgical/treatment bill charges. Upon discharge, besides the follow-up treatments and medication, people would usually take vitamins, herbs or other supplements for speedier recovery process, start on special diet which would be costlier than usual. This is when the Early Stage CI policy kicks in to provide the fund to pay for all the needs.

The recent few months, we see positive change in the insurance industry landscape. A few insurers have been innovative in coming up with policies to cover for early CI stages. I must applaud them for taking pro-active steps to fill the gap of Medical and Health insurance. Why I said gap is because, hospitalisation and surgical insurance pays for medical bills but not medical related support (travelling costs, medical “accessories” – wheel chair, crutches, braces, etc); CI policies pays only for severe cases (definitions clearly stated in policy document). The Early Stage CI functions as the “in-between”, to provide fund to pay for the medical related support and less severe case (definitions clearly stated in the policy clauses).

And yes, if you like, you can do without it too. As long as you have a ‘sinking fund‘ put aside for such emergencies. Otherwise, insurance is the only product you can buy at a very large discounted price. If you were to use your sinking fund, it would be a Ringgit to a Ringgit. So, in life, when it comes to financial protection, the only tool available with much advantage is Insurance.

My advice is that before you get a medical/health insurance, always ask about what is not covered as opposed to what is covered, waiting period, exclusions, other limitations and claim procedure. You need to understand that before you sign on the dotted lines. I’m sure you would prefer to get something you can count on.

In my practice, I would take that extra time to understand my client’s needs, identify any possible loophole in their current financial security, before coming up with proposed solutions, if any. Whatever I proposed, I always give them options to choose from. Prior to making a choice, I would always make it a point to explain to my clients what are not covered (in the case of health/medical insurance), what can they expect from this product and how it can help solve their issue(s) or fill any hole in their financial security blanket. My clients will be the ones making the final decision, only after understanding the final proposal.

I hope you understand more now after reading this post. I also hope that I have helped in any way, when it comes to selecting the right solutions to your issues. It is always good to ask questions, so feel free to do so. It’s your right!

Take care and may you have a great weekend ahead. If you are travelling, may you have a safe and joyful journey to your destination.

~ AliceN.

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