Modern Medicine: Insurance


Is insurance a necessary evil? The simple answer is “yes perhaps”!

We are being encouraged to take out insurance to cover our homes and vehicles. With expensive big ticket items such as these, can you dip your hand in your pocket and pay for replacements? And if you are buying these items via drip feed, the organization that actually paid for them at the outset wants to know that their investment is safe. Back to insurance again.

“Yes perhaps” once more. You have more than one option with buying your new car. You can pay for it outright! A young chap I knew in Australia opened a bank account for his car purchase and every month deposited the amount he would previously be paying to an insurance company. He was very strong and never missed a payment (to himself). He also found he had accumulated the money so quickly he very soon had enough money to buy his next more expensive car. He continued in that vein for the next 30 years and built up a nest egg which covered all eventualities, scrapes, mechanical problems, tyres, brakes and so forth. But he was very strict with himself.

Now another big ticket item which can draw on the piggy bank is your health. Getting older has its own risk factors. One of my friends dropped in the other day with an amusing piece about the benefits of getting older. It had such gems as, “In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first” and “Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.” That led me to thinking about health insurance.

At the outset, I must say I have never been one out of whom insurance agents grow fat. It has always been my feeling that there was something unbalanced about my attendant hangers on (AKA children) getting rich at my expense when I meet my final demise. When you really analyze it, you don’t even get to enjoy your own wake! No, if anyone is going to benefit from my paying life insurance premiums every year, it is going to be me!

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.

What about hospital 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 painkillers. 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 in 56 years, so as regards personal medical costs versus proposed insurance premiums, I was miles in front.

And then I came to Thailand. No worries, after all, I am ten foot tall and bullet proof. Then a friend had a stroke and required hospitalization. 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.

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.

So after 56 years I took out medical insurance. Still it was no gold plated cover. But it was enough to look after me if I needed hospitalization.

Of course, if I had paid premiums into my own bank account for 30 years I would have had enough to cover all contingencies. But I hadn’t, had I?

So do you have medical insurance? Perhaps it is time to chat to a reputable insurance agent and get your children to invest in their own health!