SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

March 2014

For Family’s Sake: Surviving the Rising Cost of Healthcare

Ms Ho Lee Yen, Chief Marketing Officer of AIA Singapore, tells us how we can stretch our dollars by staying in the pink of health, and by having the right kind of insurance for each member of the family.

As mothers, we want the best for our family. In the 2013 AIA Healthy Living Index Survey, more than 50 per cent of the respondents from Singapore counted good family relationships as a precursor to good health. However, with busy schedules, it is easy to overlook the importance of ensuring adequate protection for the family in the event of any illness, injury or disability.

Given the rising costs of medical care, it is crucial for families to secure adequate health coverage. This would help to avoid situations where they have to tap into their savings or burden loved ones should an unexpected situation occur.

First of all, though, would be to engineer it (within human limits) so that such a situation does not occur at all. Here’s how.


Stay In Good Health

As a start, mothers could strive to keep fit and healthy and encourage the family to work out together. This not only keeps everyone in the pink of health, but also helps to bond the family unit.

Here are simple ways to get going:

• Start an exercise regime for you and your family. This may include evening strolls at the park or playing a sport which your child enjoys, such as roller-blading, swimming or cycling.

• Whip up a hearty meal for your family. If the family enjoys eating out, choose healthier alternatives and save the ‘char kway teow’ and ‘orh luah’ for a special occasion. The Health Promotion Board has an online guide to local foods and their caloric value.

• Go for regular preventive screenings, such as health screenings and dental checks. Preventive screenings are a cost-effective way to identify and treat potential health problems before they develop further and result in an unfavourable prognosis, which can lead to costly procedures.

In a move to encourage Singaporean families to live healthier lifestyles, AIA Singapore introduced AIA Vitality last year. This is a health and wellness programme which motivates its members to exercise regularly, eat healthily, and go for screenings, while rewarding them as they improve their health status.
Hispanic Family Taking Dog For Walk In Countryside
Need more of an incentive? Members enjoy rewards such as up to 15 per cent cashback on HealthyFood™ at Cold Storage (members must be subject to the AIA Vitality health check at Guardian first), 65 per cent savings on gym membership at True Fitness, discounted movie tickets at Cathay Cineplexes, up to 50 per cent savings on cruises and flights from Royal Caribbean, Emirates and AirAsia.

Understand Basic Health Insurance

Besides keeping you and your family in good health, it is also important for mothers to understand the two main categories of basic health insurance:

• Being adequately protected when you are hospitalised

The average hospital bill in Singapore has almost doubled between 2006 and 2010. While the government picks up over half of the cost of hospitalisation in the form of subsidies and MediSave, MediShield and MediFund pay for almost one-quarter of the total cost of hospital stays (in 2009), employers and patients still need to fork out for the remaining 27 per cent. Depending on the kind of procedure required, this could be a hefty sum, enough to put you off falling sick! In fact, a recent report highlighted that 72 per cent of Singaporeans believe they cannot afford to get sick these days due to high medical costs!

What to do: Get yourself covered by a Medisave-approved Integrated Shield plan. This should offer affordable lifetime protection against unexpected medical bills without depleting your life savings. Some plans, like the AIA HealthShield Gold Max plan, can be purchased using CPF Medisave (subject to the CPF Medisave withdrawal limit).

• Being adequately protected with extra cash to cope with unexpected critical illnesses or disability

Every day in Singapore, 28 people are diagnosed with cancer. In Singapore, one in four people dies of cancer and it accounts for 30 per cent of deaths. Heart disease contributes to another 30 per cent of deaths. But less than 20 per cent of Singaporeans are financially prepared to deal with a critical illness.

What to do: Get a critical illness protection plan, such as the AIA Complete Critical Cover that provides comprehensive financial protection for Early, Major and Catastrophic stages of critical illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as a major cancer relapse. With this cover, you can also make multiple claims with total payout of many times your insured amount.

Here are also a few things to consider when buying health insurance:

• Work closely with your financial consultant to identify, understand and address your health and life insurance needs by going through the fact-find process. Health insurance is anything but a one-size-fits-all product, and different products offer unique benefits.

• Ensure that you own a health insurance plan as early as possible, whether you are a working mum or stay-at-home mum. It is advisable to buy a health insurance plan when you are healthy. Delaying it to when you are older raises the likelihood of having additional charges and exclusions imposed.

• For working mums, do remember that your company’s health insurance may not be portable when you change jobs and may cease should you leave the workforce to look after your children. Accordingly, do make it a point to have personal health insurance.

• Ensure that your kids and parents are adequately insured. Children are susceptible to accidents and infectious diseases, such as Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) and dengue fever. In 2012, there were 478,956 hospital admissions in Singapore. Children aged between 0 and 14 years made up 16 per cent of them. Getting your child a personal accident plan can ensure financial protection for you and your child if an unfortunate event happens.

• As your parents get older, they are also susceptible to accidents. Consider insuring your aged parents with a personal accident plan which focuses specifically on benefits relevant to the silver population. AIA’s Prime Assured, for example, covers Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson disease, broken bones, permanent disability as well as the inability to perform three or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL).

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For Family’s Sake: Surviving the Rising Cost of Healthcare