Speak To The Press: Time For A Change In Critical Illness/Crisis Cover Policies

My post from two days ago (Sh*t There’s A Hole In My Coverage. Make That A Manhole.) caught the attention of many concerned friends and other netizens, some of whom were newspaper journalists.

I am getting calls from these journalists now, who are going to write stories on inadequate illness insurance coverage.

I just want to clarify a few points:

1. I only mentioned Prudential because for some reason, my Critical Illness/Crisis Cover plans all happened to be under Prudential. I’ve been told the same exclusions for DCIS are “standard” across all insurance companies. Why? I would like to know. The best explanation I’ve been given is, my chances of survival from DCIS after a mastectomy are high and therefore it’s not a critical illness. I would need to have a much later stage of cancer to qualify. Sick, but that’s what the explanation is. I will accept it if it’s called “critical illness” then, but “crisis cover”? Is fighting malignant cancer cells in my breast not a crisis? Or are they saying “crisis” also means I have to be on my deathbed?

2. Am I hoping Prudential would re-consider my claim? I am not sure. I think I would be happy if Prudential came back to me with a solution, like what riders I could buy to protect myself in case I get hit with DCIS breast cancer again. I don’t have much money to buy a new policy but if a rider can be included for $100-$200 a year, I will pay that to make sure my breast cancer coverage is hole-proof.

3. Not all insurance companies are evil, not all policies are a hoax. I received fantastic and fast payouts from Aviva and MSIG, with whom I have Medishield Plus policy and a hospitalisation policy. I am very grateful for their swift action, the money has come in handy to pay for my $2000 PET scan and other hospital fees.

4. Why would I go public with my critical illness/crisis cover beef? I’ll be honest, it’s not an easy decision. Who wants to trumpet to the world that she’s lost a breast and now just discovered she can’t claim payout from her 3 critical illness/crisis cover policies? Worse, as someone pointed out to me, now, if I want to buy a new policy/rider to cover myself for DCIS, Prudential might tell me to get lost.

But after speaking with Mr Threez, and praying — God led me to Philippians 2:4. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Just that one verse, just as I was falling asleep last night wondering if I should talk to the press — the answer is yes, I must open my mouth about this, I must fight, or other women will suffer like me. Worse, if nothing changes in insurance coverage of illnesses because I fail to speak up, my children may suffer like me.

What I would like to see is more honesty and real care coming from insurance companies. The only reason why I bought insurance in the first place was because when I was 19, my mother had breast cancer. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to take time to recover should it happen to me. Now that is HAS happened, and my insurance policy of 21 years that I bought to make sure I would be protected HAS ACTUALLY FAILED ME AFTER 21 YEARS… I admit, I am more than a little angry. I feel like I’ve been taken for a ride for two whole decades. Perhaps it’s time to cut my losses on this one, and buy a new policy that gives me proper coverage.

I may not gain from this episode but my prayer is that many women who read this will make sure that their policies are not flawed like mine. What’s the point of having multiple policies covering you for critical illness when not one of them cover you for early stage cancer?

I also pray by the time my children have to buy their insurance plans, DCIS, cervical dysplasia CIN-1, 2 and 3, hyperkeratoses, prostate cancers T1a, T1b, Chronic Lymphocytic leukaemia before Stage 3 — and all those exclusions will be included.

FACT REMAINS: Cancer is cancer whether it is Stage 0 or Stage 4. I lost a breast just as a woman having stage 3 or 4 cancer might. A cervical cancer patient in early stages has to go for treatment just like one who is facing later stage cervical cancer. We suffer the same losses, only varying in degree.

If you, Prudential, AIA, Great Eastern, AXA, Aviva etc, cannot change your critical illness policies (and I don’t really see why not), then give us affordable alternatives (riders, cancer-specific plans), and train your agents to pay more attention to women (and men) with a family history of cancer.

That is all I am asking. That this unacceptable situation of once-sold-I-wash-my-hands changes now.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kitchenwitch
    Aug 28, 2010 @ 16:59:04

    I so appreciate your courage in speaking out about the lack of coverage for an early stage breast cancer.

    One thing that continually bothers me about the private insurance market is their offer of specific riders to their products. If you buy a house, you can reasonably be expected to understand the several likely causes of damage to a house in your area — flooding or hurricanes for some people, earthquakes for others.

    But the human body is not a house. So many things can go wrong, how can you possibly predict what coverage you’ll need? No health insurance should have such dramatic, clear-cut exclusions. It’s just wrong for insurance companies to play this game of “let’s see if they’ll bite and pay premiums for an insurance product that isn’t going to pay out for various conditions!”


  2. Sheri
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 05:48:43

    Hi, I found your blog through Karen’s link on her FB page. I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through, and am dismayed by your stupid insurance companies. Kudo to you for going public about their sneaky little loopholes. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see today’s New Paper but I will try to later today.

    Thank you for setting up this blog and writing so candidly about your illness. I’m sure it will be of help and information to someone in the future.


  3. Jamshed Wadia
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 09:52:02

    Hey Threez, I am glad you brought this discussion out in the open for everyone to learn and seek the right solutions for themselves in this area. Proud of you as always. …. Jams


  4. Jenny
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 21:34:17

    I am an American, ex-Singaporean

    Insurance is paid by the employer in US and it covers everything for your entire family except cosmetic surgeries. In SG, it is paid by the individual and that is why you will always get the shorter end of the bargain.


    • threezframe
      Sep 01, 2010 @ 10:02:49

      Hi Jenny. Oh I see, that makes sense. So what happens if you are a housewife or a child? Does your husband’s insurance cover you and the kids as well?


  5. winz
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 03:36:22

    @Jenny the difference between insurance here in Singapore and in US is purely a political issue and/or your employer’s issue, not an insurance company issue. In Singapore, the government has no specific law regarding medical welfare benefits, so it is entirely up to your own employer what kind of H&S insurance they want to get to provide what kind of level of medical benefits for the employees. For example, my employer used to pay 100% of my medical bills, but have since reduced my benefits to 20% co-pay after last year’s financial crisis.
    of course, as individuals, we can get our own Shield plans which will cover most of the inpatient treatments (and some outpatient ones). PruShield + PruShield Extra is one, and like the Aviva one which threezframe has, will pay for all the hospitalization and medical bills incurred.


  6. Chevron
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 09:37:57

    I chanced upon your TNP article online and subsequently to your website. I want to applaud your bravery in speaking out instead of quietly suffering.

    I feel that not only it’s time for a change in definition to the standard Critical Illness policy wordings, it’s also about educating the general public, both women and men about the loophole of their insurance policies & related issues so that they wont get caught off-guard after many years of paying for them.

    May you be blessed with a speedy recovery


    • threezframe
      Sep 11, 2010 @ 12:53:21

      Thank you Gene – I agree totally. That’s the purpose of this website, to be a source of first-hand information on breast cancer and as many related matters as I can muster! And thank you, I am getting better every day.


  7. Xenobio
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 04:38:02

    I just heard about your story on Facebook and am extremely angry. My spouse and I bought Prudential recently. I had seen some ads for the PRUsmartlady plan but decided against it. Going back to negotiate with my insurance agent soon =P

    If anybody thinks it’s not sexist, just imagine this scenario: A man who has just had surgery and radiotherapy for prostate cancer is denied reimbursement for the treatment and for Viagra to get his marital life back on track. The insurance co. says it’s his fault for not buying the “Extra Macho” plan for male-specific diseases.

    Not to mention that Prudential also requires you to buy extra coverage for maternity and newborn infants, which are typically covered by normal insurance plans in the USA. Wonder why Singapore’s birth rate is declining?


    • threezframe
      Oct 03, 2010 @ 07:23:52

      Dear Xenobio, I hear you! As my oncologist said to me recently, “Insurance companies are not concerned about your health or welfare. They only care how much money they make.” The important thing then is for the buyer to beware what he or she is buying. I find talking to my independent financial advisor helps a lot as he does the homework for me — the cross comparisons for different plans and coverage.


      • Chevron
        Oct 04, 2010 @ 04:21:36

        I don’t have any Pru policies but I guess with black sheeps, there will also be professional advisors in insurance companies, be it independent or not. I have seen and experienced unprofessional conduct from an independent FA so I guess it’s how knowledgeable and honest your advisor wants to be, wherever he/she comes from.

        Important thing is that this great blog is helping to educate the general public on things many insurance advisors know but did not inform the client beforehand, leading to problems later on during claims

  8. Trackback: Are Critical Illness plans waste of money? | YOU are the Most Valuable Asset

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