Many expats rely on corporate medical plans offered as part of their salary package but, as a close friend recently discovered, these can be very basic. Here is a cautionary tale on relying on a corporate policy.
A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. That was the bad news. The good news was that it could be treated with surgery, and chemotherapy combined with targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses specific drugs to find and attack cancer cells.
My friend breathed a sigh of relief. She has medical insurance via her company and assumed that the treatment would be covered.
She was shocked to discover upon studying both her own policy, and that of her husband, that between the two, she was only covered for two chemotherapy/targeted therapy sessions. Yes, just two. That means that additional sessions must be funded from her own pocket. And the targeted therapy is expensive: $110,000 for the first double dose and $70,000 for each subsequent round of treatment.
My friend was sanguine about this, telling me ‘that’s what savings are for’ but I beg to differ! When it is easy and inexpensive to put cover in place to transfer the risk of these costs to an insurer, it shouldn’t be necessary to have to delve into your savings to pay for essential medical treatment, especially when the costs are so high and rising fast.
Information can be found at WeCareBill Foundation, which is a charity based in Hong Kong, working to promote price transparency on surgery. They estimate baseline breast surgery costs between HK$90,000, rising to as much as HK$300,000 for the best private hospitals and doctors.
In order to protect your savings, I highly recommend that you review your corporate medical insurance to check exactly what is and isn’t covered and ensure that if it offers sufficient protection for you and your family. While you won’t be able to cover all possible scenarios, you can verify what is covered for the most common illnesses, including what treatments are covered for cancer and for which stages of the disease.
Many corporate medical policies will say that you are ‘fully covered’ but when you drill down into the detail, there are overall payment ceilings. I highly recommend that you take a long, hard look at your cover to assess the limitations on your policy.
Here are some examples of the questions you should ask when assessing a medical insurance policy:
- Am I covered in all locations where I will live, work and travel?
- Will I be reimbursed daily expenses resulting from hospital admission from day one?
- Can cover be extended for my family?
If you find unacceptable gaps in cover you should talk to your HR department to discuss the renewal date on your policy and ask them if they will review it. Sometimes it is possible to take out a top-up policy via the company or you can add personal options at your own cost. Of course, you are also free to take out additional cover with another provider and if you don’t have medical insurance in Hong Kong via your employer, you should definitely take out your own cover.
My friend’s story has a happy(ish) ending. After lengthy discussions with her insurer, they agreed that she could use a ‘major disability’ allowance offered under her company policy to put towards the targeted therapy. This is good news, although it does reduce the amount left for surgery and radiotherapy.
If you’d like to ensure that you have the most comprehensive cover possible, I can help you assess your needs and find a medical insurance policy which meets your requirements. Infinity works with all the best international insurance companies but is tied to none which means that I can offer you choice.
Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss personal medical insurance in Hong Kong and benefit from independent advice, product comparisons and ongoing service support.
Over the years I have helped hundreds of clients organise their finances. For me, financial planning is not limited to a single piece of advice and then moving on as is common in the industry. Instead, I like to build long term relationships and help people manage their finances to meet their needs as circumstances change. As a result, many of my clients have been with me for a number of years. They live throughout Asia and further afield but know that I am only a Skype or telephone call away.