[Ask Dr Chiu] Not only surgical fees? Unexpected, hidden costs on the road to recovery

[Ask Dr Chiu] Not only surgical fees? Unexpected, hidden costs on the road to recovery

[Ask Dr Chiu] Not only surgical fees? Unexpected, hidden costs on the road to recovery

HEALTH

2021-08-19

5  Mins Read

Health Insurance has become more common in recent years. A 2018 study by the Legislative Council has found that Hong Kong health insurance policy holders have risen 78% in 10 years1. With the introduction of the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme, the notion of insurance has also grown stronger in society. Over 520,000 voluntary health insurance policies have been created in the first year of the scheme alone2.

Various data have shown, due to unpredictable medical costs in Hong Kong, more and more people value medical protection for themselves. While many people focus on immediate medical costs in front of them, many overlook various costs incurred post-operation, or on the road to rehabilitation. These unexpected costs are not usually covered by a single health insurance.

Minor surgeries also require rest and rehabilitation

As the saying goes, minor illnesses are a blessing. Indeed, medical sciences are becoming more advanced by the day, many illnesses can be treated with a simple, minor surgery. But no matter how small the operation is, adequate rest and adjustment for the body are still needed afterwards, which indeed hold the key to the “blessing”.

A taxi driver, Mr Chan has long suffered from hemorrhoids. As his conditions got worse in recent days and he had a health insurance, where surgery and hospitalisation costs will be borne by the insurance company, he has decided to get surgery to get rid of the problem once and for all.

Even though removal of hemorrhoids is a minor surgery, which only requires a day’s stay at the hospital before discharge, what he didn’t expect was his wound still hurt after going home, making him unable to sit for long, let alone drive his taxi. He ended up having to lie down at home for a few days. Almost a week of rest has greatly affected his income that month. That shows, even though health insurance allows you to claim operation costs, you may still have shoulder other costs during rehabilitation if you have no other protection.

Various expenses on the road to rehabilitation

The road to rehabilitation takes not just time to recover and heal, which can impact work, but also extra costs that come out of the blue, and they can impose a heavy financial burden on you.

For instance, Miss Wong had Osteoarthritis that made her movement difficult. Like Mr Chan, she had purchased personal health insurance, and decided to go to a private hospital for knee replacement surgery. Even though she didn’t have to bear the costly HK$250,000 operation fee, various expenditure during recovery still put a huge financial strain on her and her family.

First, Miss Wong had to travel to Hong Kong Island for physiotherapy treatments three times a week. But she lives in the New Territories, and her movement was still not easy after the surgery, therefore she had to spend hundreds of dollars for round-trip taxi rides. Her family also had to take turns to get unpaid leaves from their work to take her to and from hospital.

Altogether, they spent about HK$20,000. These extra but necessary costs were not covered by their health insurance.

Full coverage for surgeries

Those two cases above should more or less make people understand voluntary or personal health insurance can indeed help you with your most pressing medical expenses, but on the road to rehabilitation which can be long or short, you often find yourself in need of more detail-oriented and full protection.

That’s why when purchasing personal health insurance, you can also get some surgical insurance products according to your needs, so that you can receive cash compensation after various surgeries or operations that don’t involve a life-threatening disease. It can not only alleviate your pressing needs, but also help you with living costs on your road to rehabilitation, lessening the financial burden on you and your family.

Lastly, I would like to share with you a recent experience from Mr Lee. He has had stomach pain for a while, and was worried about having stomach cancer. In order to know the result earlier, he went to a day centre for a gastroscopy examination.  As a family breadwinner, he has also purchased additional surgical protection to protect his family.

Fortunately, the examination result showed he only had gastritis, which could be cured after taking medicine. What made him even more delighted was the fact that because he had purchased surgical protections, he could get cash compensation for simple, minor surgeries such as gastroscopy exams at a day centre. He used the money to treat his family to a good meal, and celebrate his return to good health. It could be said he gained much from his misfortune.

Source:

1. Research Brief on Health insurance for individuals in Hong Kong: https://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/chinese/1718rb03-health-insurance-for-individuals-in-hong-kong-20180703-c.pdf

2. Website of The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Press Releases): https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202009/11/P2020091100358.htm?fontSize=1

The above content is reviewed by Dr Alexander Chiu - Chief Medical Officer of AXA Hong Kong and Macau

Information and materials provided is general in nature and does not constitute medical or health advice from AXA Hong Kong and is on an “as is” and “as-available” basis without representation and/or warranty of any kind, either express or implied.  While AXA Hong Kong has taken reasonable care in providing such information and materials, they are not specific to your investment objective, financial situation, health or medical conditions or particular needs.  No warranty or responsibility is assumed by AXA Hong Kong and our related or holding companies regarding non-infringement, security, accuracy, completeness, adequacy, reasonableness, fitness for a purpose or free from computer viruses in connection with the information and materials provided.  AXA Hong Kong and our related companies and holding companies do not accept any liability for any loss, damage, cost or other expense, whether wholly or partially, directly or indirectly, arising from any error, inaccuracy or omission of the information and materials to the extent that such liability is not excluded by law.

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SurgiCare Surgical Insurance Plan

Critical illness plan’ lump-sum payout covers non-medical daily expense for serious illnesses, while medical insurance plan covers for hospitalization expenses on a reimbursement basis. You may think that you have got adequate insurance protection, but the truth is, not every serious illness is critical illness! Even you might have got your hospitalization expenses covered when having surgery, there could be nothing to support non-medical daily expense during your recovery journey.

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