Insurance Checklist #1: Who Should Be Covered?
You can choose to buy insurance as a single with no dependents, a couple, or a family. Generally, the larger your group the lower the insurance premiums. No independents means you have no child, elderly parent or spouse who claim a deduction on your tax return.
Be sure to coordinate coverage across spouses and family members. If you have spousal benefits in your pension plan, you will want to manage your insurance policies according to when these income streams will be paid.
Insurance Checklist #2: Be Forward Thinking
Today, technology is helping us predict what future illnesses we are at risk of acquiring. Gene tests can confirm if you are at risk of certain illness such as breast cancer. You should also review your family’s health history. Taken together, this information can help you make more informed decisions about your future healthcare needs.
Knowing whether or not you will break a bone on the ski slopes is harder to predict. But if you are an avid downhill skier, you should consider adding fracture coverage to your health insurance plan, if it is not already included.
Insurance Checklist #3: Practice Preventive Care
Preventive care can lower your insurance premiums. It also can identify a serious illness early. Preventive care measures can include:
– frequent and regular doctor’s check-ups
– regular testing – for example, mammograms
– regular exercise
– a healthy diet
Prepare in advance for health events you know will take place. If you are planning to become pregnant within the year, take out prenatal care coverage. A thorough policy that takes care of pre-natal consultations and all pregnancy scans can help ensure a healthy pregnancy. Change your diet and eating habits, accordingly. Know the waiting times before coverage kicks in. How soon and often can newborns receive health checks and vaccinations? A delayed vaccination can put your child at risk, especially if you are spending a lot of time in hospital environments.
Insurance Checklist #4: Anticipate Medical Expenses
Does every member of your family have high blood pressure? Do you measure high but not yet in dangerous territory? High blood pressure medication may be a future expense. Hopefully, through healthy low stress living and medication classes, you can beat your family odds. But if you do see high blood pressure treatment as an option on your insurance plan, you may want to opt in. Are the drugs you require available as generic drugs? Could you lower your insurance costs by switching to generic versions? What is the likelihood you will need long term care?
Insurance Checklist #5: Choosing Doctors and Health Service Providers
Singapore’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world. One advantage is that patients can choose their healthcare providers, whether in the public or private system. The doctor-to-patient population is healthy, and contributes to quality healthcare. Check any restrictions on doctor or healthcare service provider choices.
Insurance Checklist #6: Read the Fine Print
Even if you are renewing a policy, terms changes from year to year. The mortality rate used to determine your premium five years ago may have changed, and this will affect the cost of your insurance premiums. Always double check deductibles to avoid getting stung in your pocket book. Your choice of provider networks may also have changed. You may discover that the new offerings do not meet your criteria.
Insurance Checklist #7: Past and Current Treatment Exclusions
If you have recently had medical treatment, you may be excluded from having similar treatment within a specific time period. These are called exclusion periods. Examples of exclusions to watch for include:
– Pre-existing conditions for which you have previously received treatment. Treatment may be provided but a waiting period applied.
– Homecare, private nursing – Demand for these services is growing. While they may be standard in a disability plan, the services may not be covered in a general health insurance plan.
– Dental or vision care. Accident insurance may cover it in relation to an accident only. A separate plan or plan add-on will be required.
– Plastic surgery – This includes many forms of non-elective surgeries – nose jobs, face lifts and tummy tucks. Some plastic surgery may be covered such as that related to a mastectomy or skin grafting of burn victims.
– Drug exclusions
– Behavioral or learning problems
– Alternative and complimentary medicine – In Singapore, Chinese medicine is often covered or available as an add-on.
Insurance Checklist #8: Beyond the Premium
A plan with low premiums but high deductibles may turn out to be too expensive. Most doctor’s appointments involve a co-payment, a fixed fee you will be required to pay each time you visit a doctor. Before your plan starts paying for your treatment, an out-of-pocket payment limit may be set. For example, you may be required to pay for $200 in Chinese medicine services before the healthcare policy will cover you for another $500 of treatment. The treatment may also have a lifetime maximum payout. For non-essential acupuncture, for example, you may have a lifetime limit of $1000.
When comparing insurance plans, you are seldom comparing apples-to-apples. The more you read the fine print, the more evident the differences in offerings will become. Take the time to carefully read through policies, and remember the onus is on the buyer to be informed and educated. MoneySENSE was created as a resource to teach financial literacy and help you make more informed decisions when buying insurance and other financial products.
This article first appeared on The New Savvy.
Author: By Anna V. Haotanto