Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - You and your health plan

You and your health plan

You and your health plan

COMMENT

PHNOM PENH - Hundreds of thousands of jobs will probably be lost as a direct result of the global financial crisis.

Many of the most threatened jobs are in the financial and automobile sectors and appear unlikely to affect us here in Asia - in the short term, anyway. However, these latest alarming figures should give us some pause for thought.

 After all, where would we be if we, too ,were to lose our jobs through job cuts or even illness? What would happen if we were to require medical treatment after losing our job?

Those of us with corporate medical insurance arranged through our respective employers might be tempted to skip the remainder of this column in the knowledge that we are covered and have absolutely nothing to worry about.

We could not be more wrong!

If we were to look closely at the fine print on our medical insurance, we might find that our policy does not allow us what is known as continuous term transfer on leaving the company.

This means that if we become ill, cannot work and leave our job, we run the risk of losing our medical coverage altogether. What's more, if we leave our job and have pre-existing conditions, we run the risk of losing our coverage or insurability. In short, once we lose our job - we lose our health coverage.

In the first instance it is worth asking our employers whether our corporate medical insurance provider:

1.  has an individual plan and guarantees continuous term transfer, or

2.   has an arrangement with a third party for continuous term transfer.

If the answer is no, then we should consider taking out our own health insurance policy to cover us in the event that we cannot work.

To begin with, there are a number of different types of health insurance plans that may be regional- or country-specific. However, for expatriates the most common plan would be fee-for-service coverage.

There are many companies that offer medical insurance plans, and there are a variety of different levels of coverage. The most basic plans just cover hospital admission and emergency evacuation, while the most comprehensive plans cover everything from dental to optical and maternity.

DELAYING PENSION PLANNING WILL HAVE AN EXTREMELY NEGATIVE EFFECT ON OUR RETIREMENT INCOME AND LIFESTYLE.

With this traditional fee-for-service type of health insurance we - as the insured - are responsible for paying a deductible before the insurance pays benefits. Deductibles are usually around US$50 but can be reduced to nil (by increasing the premium) or increased to thousands of dollars (and thus reducing the premium by up to 50%). Once this deductible is paid, then the insurance company pays the rest of the medical bill.
This kind of policy allows us to go to any doctor or hospital we choose, pay them directly for the service and then obtain reimbursement from our insurance company. We can also often sign a form instructing the insurance company to pay the doctor or hospital directly if we have arranged this with the insurance company. Some companies also offer direct billing services where you present your card, pay your deductible and the insurer then takes care of the rest.

So, once we have decided what kind of health insurance suits us best, we then need to make further basic enquiries - as follows:

 ·   Check existing health or medical insurance policies very carefully to see what they cover.

·  Check to see what geographical regions are covered or excluded. For example some policies do not cover medical attention in the United States or may limit the amount of days and the cover to accident and emergency only.

· Check what happens in the event of an emergency. Check who we can call in the event of an emergency. Check if there is a help line and if they speak our language.

· Check what are the claim procedures, ie what excess must we pay. And check how long it takes for claims to be settled.

 I would suggest that it is vital to consult a finance professional and get a clear understanding of the benefits and drawbacks to health plans before making a final decision. I also recommend that my clients pay as much as they can afford for a good medical plan because peace of mind is a major factor in a speedy recovery.

 After all it, is our health we are talking about, and we cannot afford to lose it. So let's take action now to avoid being caught out later.

Remember - Your Money Matters!

Trevor Keidan is managing director of Infinity Financial Solutions, a firm providing impartial,  tailor-made  personal financial advice to clients in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. Should you wish to contact Trevor, please send an email to [email protected].  

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