Do you need insurance?

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I have just renewed my medical insurance, for myself, my wife and the children.  Whilst I hate giving anything away (my Scottish heritage comes forth at times when I have to open the wallet), I have to say the premium was not expensive, and far less than I would pay in the western world.

However, if you haven’t upgraded your cover recently, then you may be in for a nasty surprise.  Unfortunately, everything, be that petrol, bread, or baby’s nappies has gone up in price in the past 12 months.  If you haven’t upgraded there could be a shortfall, which you have to find (or fund), not your insurance company.

I have also been very lucky with my choice of careers.  Being a medico does have advantages.  If I couldn’t fix my skin rash or whatever, I could always ring a classmate who could (or should) be able to.  Medications and drugs?  Again no worries, just a quick raid of the samples cupboard in my surgery and I had everything I needed.  Insurance not needed.  (One of my medical friends used to say that after diagnosing some condition in his family, he would go to his samples cupboard.  If he couldn’t find what he wanted, he would change the diagnosis to use some medication he did have!  True.)

What about hospital in-patient insurance?  I passed on that one too.  After all, the only foreseeable problems that could stop me working were massive trauma following a road accident or suchlike, or a heart attack.  In either case you don’t care where you are as long as there are wall to wall running doctors and plenty of pain killers.  In Australia, the “free” public hospital system is fine for that.

So I blithely carried on through life insuranceless.  I did spend one night in hospital with a broken leg 30 years ago, so as regards personal medical costs versus proposed insurance premiums, I was still miles in front.

And then I came to Thailand.  Still I blithely carried on, after all, I was ten foot tall and bullet proof.  Then a friend over here had a stroke and required hospitalisation.  Said friend was four years younger than me and I was forced to review the ten foot bullet proof situation to find I was only five foot eleven and my anti-kryptonite had expired.  Thailand was a completely new ballgame.

Enquiries as to hospital and medical costs showed that they were considerably less than the equivalent in Oz, but, and here’s the big but, there’s no government system or sickness benefits to fall back on.  Suddenly you are walking the tightrope and there’s no safety net to stop you hitting terra firma.

So I took out medical insurance.  Still it was no gold plated cover.  But it was enough to look after me if I needed hospitalisation, and that came sooner than I imagined.  I had always subscribed to the “major trauma” theory, but two days of the galloping gut-rot had me flat on my back with the IV tube being my only life-line to the world.  We are only mortal – even us medicos.

Do you have medical insurance?  Perhaps it is time to chat to a reputable insurance agent!  Yes, reliable insurance agents and reliable insurance companies do exist, but you need help through the minefield.

You also need help when it comes to filling out the application forms, in my opinion.  And you also need to be 100 percent truthful.  Yes, insurance companies will check on your records, and if it is found that you have been sparing with the truth over pre-existing conditions, expect a shock at settling up time at the cashier’s desk.

Remember too, that just because you have an insurance card does not automatically signify that ‘everything’ is covered.  This is why private hospitals will ask you for a deposit on admission.  If the insurance company later verifies that you are indeed covered for that ailment or condition, then you’ll get it back, but you have to prove that you are covered, not the other way round!

And remember to check out your insurance agent.