Most of us do not realize the host of issues we can potentially leave behind for our closest ones to handle and deal with when we are sick or even after we are gone. This is a real case recently shared online that will hopefully bring greater awareness and understanding.
Mr and Mrs Tan (random names) started and ran a trading company together. Mr Tan was a diabetic but seemed to have his condition under control. Things were going relatively well until one day when Mr Tan accidentally tripped and stubbed his toe seriously on the sofa. Though the toe swelled up, he didn’t think too much of it. It was only until the swelling changed colour, that he finally agreed to go to the hospital. It was diagnosed that his toe has become gangrenous and was immediately put on a course of antibiotics to fight the infection. But it was too late and his toe had to be amputated.
But the sad thing is, it didn’t stop there. The infection had spread to his other toes already, and too soon, his whole feet had to be amputated. This was followed by kidney failure. Mr Lim went on renal dialysis and after 5 months, he passed away.
If Mr Tan’s death helped close a chapter in Mrs Tan’s life, that would have been most merciful. But Mrs Tan woes were soon to be compounded. Firstly, Mr Tan’s death rites amounted to close to $30,000, even though nothing extravagant was planned for the rites.
Next, there was the repercussion on their business over the past 5 months, when Mr and Mrs Tan were so occupied in dealing with Mr Tan’s condition, that the business could not continue operations, to the extent that it had to be shut down. Suppliers and creditors came knocking on the door with unpaid invoices of a few thousand dollars. Not only does Mrs Tan no longer have her source of income, but she was in debt too.
Finally, there was the medical expenses that had piled up steadily over the past 5 months. Even though Mr Tan chose to stay in Ward C, the lowest cost ward, the initial bill still amounted to $380,000.
Ward fees (149 days) = $76,861
Drugs and consumables = $78,492
Lab and X-ray = $54,477
Surgical fees = $53,288
Renal Dialysis = $34,388
To those who are ever inclined to become complacent on how much it could cost you for critical illnesses, hopefully this is a good wake-up call.
But at least for this point, there is a silver lining. Because of various subsidies for citizens and Ward C, our government covered $249,000 of the total bill! Mr Tan’s Medishield Life took care of another $94,000. This means that all that remains to be paid is $37,000. Mrs Tan paid $10,000 of that from her Medisave account and will need to settle the remainder $27,000 in cash. Mr Tan had several insurance policies, but as he had mistakenly assumed that Medishield and the government was all that he needed, he had lapsed his policies. Major mistake.
Together with her business debts, Mrs Tan now to raise about $87,000 to settle all outstanding bills. This is on top of the grieve and loss she must still be reeling from. Time that every wife should have to get over this huge hole left in her life.
Lessons to be Learnt
This is not intended to be another scare tactic that insurance agents are so often accused of using. This is real. We see it repeated often enough. Illness and death will burden and take its toil on your loved ones more than you can imagine. Do not let financial matters add to the grieve and pain they are already suffering, especially when it is something that you can plan for.
- Understand what you are covered under your insurance policies, or seek clarifications from your financial advisor, so that you are not short-changed or over-spend unnecessarily like getting yourself into a higher class ward than your plans cover.
- Medishield cover should take care of a majority of your medical expenses, but there will be additional expenses that are not covered. Having some form of life insurance will help you plan for this possibility, and it is the responsible thing to do, for yourself, but even more for your loved ones.
- Planning for sickness and death takes effort. You don’t realize how getting sick can and will seriously impair other parts of your life. For Mr Tan, it was his business. For many of you who are employed, it will mean loss of income, albeit maybe temporary. But it is important to think through the scenarios, which is why having a financial consultant to guide you through the process is important.
- If you have pre-existing conditions, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Go get yourself checked even if there is any doubt about your health condition. You don’t want to live with the regret knowing that you could have prevented lots of heartache by just getting medical attention earlier.