The Vampires Strike Back (And Some Umpires Too)

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No, that’s not the vampire who called me. I wish!

The last 48 hours, my mobile has kept ringing. I am almost thankful my Blackberry Bold is on its last legs and the battery zaps out around 12 noon if I’ve engaged in more than 30 minutes of talk time.

The callers: friends or friends-of-friends who are insurance agents, determined to set me straight after reading the New Paper article yesterday about my failed claim for DCIS under my critical illness policies.

“You should have read the fine print” was quite a common (exasperated) response. “Everybody knows DCIS is not covered.”

I guess I am not everybody, then. And if you walk down the street and ask 10 people, if you can get 1 who can tell you what DCIS is, I’ll buy you two pints of Haagen Dazs Caramel Biscuit And Cream.

Other priceless responses from insurance agents included:

• “But this other plan covers you for DCIS what.” (erm, hello, that’s not the plan my agent sold me despite knowing my risk for breast cancer. That’s my whole point. Why did 3 agents sell me the same thing knowing I should buy something that covers me for every stage of cancer? And now that I have had DCIS and a mastectomy, can you get your other plan to cover me? If not, shut up.)

• “DCIS where got mastectomy one? No need lah, chemo and radiation can already, for DCIS and Stage 1.” (Okay lah, you get cancer across 5cm of your breast tissue and tell me if you want to take the risk of chemo vs removing the d*** cancer from your body.)

• “I can’t speak for Prudential but if you had bought from my insurance company you would get blahblahblah…” (Where were you when I was draining my hardearned cash into dud policies?)

But to their credit, some friends who are agents were upset for me, and gave me some great tips, including:

• Don’t surrender my policies yet. Surrendering is a sure way of losing out because the break even point is something like 15 years or above. I am only considering cashing out one policy, but we’ll see how it goes, now that I have sincere advice, I am not rushing into anything just yet.

• Make sure my hospitalization plans (Medishield Plus) are auto-renewed. Any lapse in payment will make your policy null and void. And don’t be too confident that your GIRO/CPF “automatically” went through. My friend Karen (from Great Eastern) gave me an example of a CPF-deducted plan in which CPF did not automatically transfer the annual premium to the insurance company, and this lady who had cancer could not claim for her hospitalisation.

• Looking out for my children’s plans. Make sure your children are covered for hospitalisation. My Three Bs are all included in my Medishield Plus policies. I will be going through them with my financial planner to make sure they’re water-tight.

But the call I didn’t expect that came, and made me glad, was my woman Prudential agent. She explained that the terminology that doctors use in their post-surgery reports is the only source upon which decisions are made for payouts (or not). I’m not 100% sure what she means, but I’ve sent all my lab and histological reports to her, and she’s making an appeal.

Even if it doesn’t happen, I am just happy she made the effort to call me, touch base, make the effort to repeal the rejection.

But she was the only one out of my three agents who were notified by Prudential that my claim was rejected, to do this.

So, not to sound sexist, but if you are a woman reading this, I would suggest that you buy your life/health policies from another woman. Only a woman can truly comprehend the severity of losing a breast. Not that male agents cannot be sympathetic, but they would not feel for it the way they would if their client had testicular cancer.

I’m grateful for all the knowledge that has come flooding into this blog. I hope whoever reads it will gain something from it, pass it on, link this to a friend’s FB/Twitter/email, and make a difference.

While you are in good health, make sure your insurance coverage is really sufficient. It’s worth the while to do your homework, and I hope this blog will be effective “required reading”.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mel
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 14:09:21

    With a 5-cm DCIS you might have a micro-invasion. If so, that can bump you up to a Stage 1 and this will be covered under your policy. If they didn’t find it in the first pathology report, send the slides somewhere else — even two other labs would be good. It’s not going to change the treatment or your prognosis, but it could get you paid. In fact, having a second opinion on your pathology report (at a DIFFERENT lab/institution) is CRUCIAL when dealing with DCIS, even when there is no insurance issue.


    • threezframe
      Sep 01, 2010 @ 14:29:33

      Mel, thanks for this. I did send my photos and report to another doctor (my aunt who is a palliative doctor in Australia) and she concurred with my doctor’s report. But you have a point about micro-invasion. I shall call my doctor. Thanks much!


  2. Shane
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 05:14:15


    What kind of symptoms of DCIS do you have?? Is it discharge, and some lumps on the breast?

    any recommendation on doctors who are good in women problems?


    • threezframe
      Sep 02, 2010 @ 13:38:32

      Hi Shane. For me I felt a pain in my breast, like a blocked milk duct (women who have breastfed will know what this feels like). There were no lumps, only after thorough self-exam, a slight thickening under the skin.

      One lady who read the New Paper story told me that she had the same condition but she had bloody discharge from her nipple. However, hers also turned out to be DCIS and not a later stage — discharge of blood is usually a very bad sign of late stage cancer, so my surgeon told me.

      Women’s health comes in many different areas. For general women’s health I think KK 24 Hour Women’s Clinic is a safe place to go. For gynaecological issues, a gynae of course. Quek Swee Chong from KK Hospital is very good, very gentle. Dr Tham Kok Fun at Gleneagles was my OBGYN for all 3 babies so he’s my go-to guy. For breast issues, Dr Hoe Ah Leong at Gleneagles was my surgeon, and for plastic surgery and reconstruction, I saw Dr Andrew Khoo at Mount E. All great doctors.


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