At some point in their lives, a great many people in Singapore will be diagnosed with a critical illness.
When that happens, the financial implications of having to pay out-of-pocket medical costs as well as cope with not being able to work can be very serious.
That is why critical illness insurance is so important—the payouts from a critical illness policy offers financial security, make up for lost income and can be put towards paying medical expenses or supporting a household. In order to enjoy protection, you must be diagnosed with a condition that is covered by your critical illness insurance plan.
Here the top 5 critical illnesses and medical procedures that are usually protected by comprehensive critical illness insurance plans.
The top cause of death in Singapore is cancer, with an estimated 1 in 4 people developing cancer in their lifetimes.
Cancer develops when cells in the body start to divide uncontrollably, which causes them to grow and eventually form tumours. Cancer can arise in any part of the body and potentially spread to other parts if not stopped in time.
The most common types of cancer for women in Singapore are breast cancer, followed by colorectal cancer and lung cancer. For men, the most common type of cancer is colorectal cancer, followed by lung cancer and then prostate cancer.
Risk factors for cancer include family history, obesity, smoking and diet. However, people can still get diagnosed with cancer despite not exhibiting high-risk factors. The cost of treating cancer in Singapore has been estimated at about $100,000 to $200,000 a year.
A stroke occurs when insufficient blood is flowing to the brain, which then impairs and even kills brain cells.
Cardiovascular disease, which results in heart disease or stroke, kills 17 people every day in Singapore, making up 29.2% of all deaths in 2018. Not diagnosing and treating a stroke in time can result in death or permanent brain damage.
Early diagnosis and treatment play a big part in improving outcomes for stroke survivors. But the problem is that many of the early symptoms of a stroke are subtle. This can include difficulty speaking, drooping of one side of the face, weakness or numbness in one arm or difficulty swallowing. Anyone who suspects the onset of a stroke should be hospitalised immediately.
Stroke is quite costly to treat, with the mean direct medical cost of stroke estimated at about $12,473.70 in Singapore.
Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when the heart muscle is unable to receive sufficient blood and oxygen, most commonly due to the blockage of a coronary artery. Heart attack is one of the top causes of death in Singapore.
The symptoms of heart attacks can include chest pain and a choking feeling. However, heart attack symptoms can also be very subtle, such as lightheadedness or nausea.
The risk of heart attack increases with age, with males at a greater risk. A family history of heart attack can also increase one’s own. Other risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity. Singapore has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, which raises the risk of a heart attack.
Open Chest Heart Surgery or Heart Bypass Surgery
Open chest heart valve or aorta surgery is any kind of surgery that requires the chest to be opened so that the heart can be operated upon. It is used to treat conditions such as coronary heart disease.
A heart bypass, also known as coronary artery bypass surgery, is used to treat obstructed coronary arteries and heart attacks.
Both types of surgery usually require a post-procedure stay in the intensive care unit, and great care must be taken to follow the doctor’s dietary and lifestyle recommendations afterwards.
The median cost of heart bypass surgery at public hospitals in Singapore is $8,312 for those in Class B2 wards and $6,046 for those in Class C wards. These are the cheapest hospital wards in the healthcare system, with the median cost of all heart bypass surgeries being significantly higher.
This medical procedure is used to treat arterial atherosclerosis and widen arteries or veins that are narrowed or obstructed.
It can relieve symptoms such as chest pains and angina, which are caused when the heart is not able to receive sufficient blood. Angioplasty is also used to treat a variety of other symptoms and conditions, such as obstruction to the renal artery, which is linked to hypertension and kidney failure.
An angioplasty is an expensive procedure, with the subsidised cost of the procedure at public hospitals estimated at $4,800 to $9,000. The cost at private hospitals is much higher, at an estimated $40,000 to $60,000. Given the high cost of the procedure, it is crucial to be protected by good hospitalisation and critical illness insurance well before the need for an angioplasty arises.
HL Assurance’s Early Protect360 is a critical illness insurance plan offering protection for top critical illnesses. Getting covered for the top critical illness with an accelerated payout for early stages will help to offset any medical or living expenses when you are recovering and safeguard your family from unexpected financial loss. Find out more here.