24 Jun 2016
Our Senior Executive, Cheong Hui Mei, shares advice and tips on health insurance.
After graduating with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, Hui Mei began her career as an underwriter in the life insurance industry before specialising in health insurance with a general insurer. We caught up with her for a quick chat as she recently celebrated her fifth year with MSIG. She counts more than 10 years of experience in the insurance industry.
If you could debunk the common misconceptions about health insurance, what would it be?
The common problem is the confusion between health insurance plans like Medishield Life, company medical insurance plan, Hospital cash plan and Critical illness insurance. Each of them provides different types of coverage and benefits.
Medishield Life provides basic coverage because it pays for your medical treatment when you are hospitalised at class B2/C wards in a public hospital. Company medical insurance covers you for both inpatient and outpatient treatments as long as you are under the company's employment. In a Hospital Cash plan, it pays a fixed amount of benefit for each day you are hospitalised for medical treatment or surgery, regardless of the actual expenses incurred during your stay in hospital. Therefore, the total amount paid may be more or less than your actual expenses. Critical illness insurance pays a lump sum benefit in the event of a diagnosis of one of the covered critical illnesses defined in the policy contract. It is in addition to any medical expenses policy that you may have.
If you are employed, you should make a claim from your company's medical insurance first. Any outstanding claims can be made against your own health insurance policy including MediShield Life. Your Hospital Cash plan and/or Critical Illness insurance would pay you regardless of other medical policies.
In that case, what should people look out for when buying health insurance?
You should compare the policy coverage, the premium, the benefits limits and the policy exclusions.
Inpatient treatment is costly - a heart bypass surgery could cost as much as S$60,000 in a private hospital. For illnesses like cancer or rare diseases which require long term medical treatment, your outpatient treatment bills can skyrocket.
There are some insurance plans which offer a Letter of Guarantee facility when you are hospitalised so you don't have to worry whether you have enough money at the point of admission. Given the rising healthcare costs, one should seriously consider buying additional coverage.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
My work is unique in that it is a combination of both underwriting and business development. I get job satisfaction sharing my knowledge and helping our customers understand the policy. In return, they show their appreciation and continue coverage with us.
Advice to a cynic or non-believer of health insurance
In Asia, we think it is bad luck to jinx ourselves but insurance is there to cover the unexpected! It prevents you from suffering financial loss and your family would not be burdened with huge medical expenses as a result of a serious illness or injury.