A very civic-minded individual, Fina Leong, decided to share her story on Facebook concerning the financial and emotional struggle she had to go through as her mother was suddenly struck with illness. Here is a copy of what she shared:
Healthcare or Nightmare?
10 doctors, 58 days in the ICU, 1 gigantic bill, Mum’s life lost.
Never in my life would I have ever imagined I’d see a S$1 million medical bill.
$350,000 in medications… Over a thousand doses of drugs.. I felt so helpless when mum’s kidneys failed.
One thing for sure is this… If I had known that 18 May would be the last day of her life, I would rather spend $350,000 on bringing mum the greatest joyful, loving, happiest and most comforting experiences, rather than have her go through 58 extremely painful suffering days immobile in a cold and sterile hospital room.
Looking back, it is all a lack of the right knowledge that cost my mum’s life. The painful unknown is… I will never know whether we did the right thing to send mum in through these doors.
There are many health alternatives that can help reverse cancer. However, what is the DOSE and FREQUENCY required to achieve that outcome? Unfortunately it is mostly trial and error, and in mum’s instance, she was unable to consume the dose required to reverse her condition.
Because of this, we were selectively close-minded to recommendations. There were many doctors, alternatives and nutritional supplements that family & friends recommended. We explored some and missed many. However, if we stayed 100% open and explored ALL alternatives, one of them may have been able to save mum. A very costly regret…
We didn’t realise how urgent cancer was. For someone with a generally healthy diet with natural foods and active lifestyle, if cancer strikes, find out if “targeted chemotherapy” is available. For aggressive treatment as chemotherapy, it needs to be administered as soon as possible while the body still has health reserves and is able to bounce back.
We also made the mistake of thinking “all hospitals are the same”. There is a HUGE difference in SPEED and EXPERTISE for public healthcare and private specialists. For a woman over 50’s and post-menopause, if there is unusual swelling in the abdomen, a detailed scan to check for tumour is required immediately. When mum was first admitted in January, the doctors took 2 long weeks to discover the tumour. Something that the right scan would instantly reveal.
Unfortunately, I feel that the entire healthcare ecosystem is such that specialists and private facilities are gravely expensive, and billing is structured in a way to max-out insurance payout in a cold and professionally institutionalised way. My heart felt cold when I saw that on mum’s $1 million bill, she was referred to as “Customer” and not “Patient”..
It is truly regretful that we were ignorant about mum’s insurance coverage. Had we known that mum’s insurance covered private specialist treatments, we could’ve sought private specialist expertise from Day 1.
At the end of the day… there are a ton of what-ifs and grey areas. What is right? What is wrong? One thing for sure is this.. Nothing can be done now to reverse the situation. Nothing can turn back time. And our hearts will miss mum forever…
More than ever now, I deeply feel that “If you do not invest time, money and energy in your health, you will spend your fortune on sickness”.
Ignorance is gravely costly. The right knowledge saves lives and protects families.
I hope this post has helped someone out there.
May we live with vigour, and die without suffering.
Rest in peace my beloved mummy…
I really appreciate such sharing as it touches and reaches out to countless others who may never realize the difficulties and challenges of not putting proper plans in place or not knowing one’s entitlements for healthcare. Through real cases like these, we hope to be able to educate more people so that they don’t have to suffer inconveniences or loss (financial or other types) unnecessarily.
So what are the main lessons to be learnt?
1) Cancer treatment is far from established and depending on the condition, can still be a largely trial and error approach.
2) We never really know when we or our loved ones will see their last days. Cherish the now and don’t put off appreciating each other if you can do it now.
3) Insurance is important and knowing the coverage you have is just as important. It’s all about risk-transfer. That’s also the reason why the government made it a default for all citizens to have Medishield. If hospitalization plans were optional and not so important, would the government make all citizens have one? For a fraction of the cost of such potential tragedies, why would you want to risk your wealth and your financial future? Much better to transfer the risk away so you can focus and concentrate on other things.
4) Having insurance gives you options, whether to seek treatment or not, the important thing is, you can choose.
5) There is a difference between public and private healthcare. It is really not about comfort but rather having the option to choose doctors that may be more specialized in treating certain diseases and also about not having to wait 2 weeks just for a scan or an appointment especially when every day is crucial when one is down with a critical illness. Although to be fair, I have heard from one client that she was pleasantly surprised that publich healthcare was really efficient and satisfactory. But if you can, do give yourself the option of choosing private healthcare.
6) 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women on average will get cancer in their lifetime. Don’t kid yourself, you need to protect yourself so that your closest ones don’t have to bear the burden on top of worrying financially for you. It is the responsible thing to do!
7) Have some basic understanding of the rights that you have with the plans that you have purchased for yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, have a trusted agent or adviser whom you can turn to in such moments to give you the proper advise for treatment and healthcare. How would you feel if you bought a BMW but realize that you have been driving a Cherry QQ (no offense to all Cherry drivers)?