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Reasons to get health insurance

They include the flexibility of opting for the most luxurious of healthcare and the option of overseas care


THERE are a number of good reasons to consider health insurance, even if you are a wealthy individual with several million dollars in net personal assets.

For one, you may want the flexibility of opting for the most luxurious of healthcare. You may have family overseas in countries such as the US and Canada, and may want to opt for treatment there. Or, you travel frequently on business, and a comprehensive plan will help to mitigate the risks of an emergency and an outsized bill.

There is a wealth of hospitalisation plans you can consider. If you are Singaporean and mostly based in Singapore, then a plan that covers private hospital care under the Integrated Shield umbrella is easily available.

If you want the option of overseas care there is also a variety to choose from. Stephen Ho, global marketing director of Pacific Prime, a Hong Kong based international health insurance broker, says there has always been demand for international private medical insurance (IPMI). "In recent years however, we've noticed an uptick in demand for such products ... However, insurers are increasingly offering more localised enhancements for specific markets within the Asia-Pacific or the MENA region."

Pacific Prime represents a number of insurers, including Allianz, Bupa and AIG.

Pacific Prime has a study on inflation drivers for IPMI. It noted that expatriates are traditionally the main market for IPMI. "However it appears that the traditional expat is slowly disappearing in some countries with demand being taken up by local or regional high net worth individuals."

Its 2017 study, Cost of International Health Insurance, found that the average cost of international health cover was US$8,105, based on plans offered by 10 insurers to four demographics. Based on the demographics, the highest premium of US$11,551 was paid by families. Retirees paid an average US$9,008.

IPMI offers features that a Singapore domestic-oriented policy typically does not provide. There are of course standard benefits such as in-hospital costs including surgery, intensive care and the cost of specialist consultation on ascharged basis. But other features such as maternity cover (subject to a waiting period), dental and outpatient cover, and medical evacuation benefits are typically not available in domestic policies.

You will have to scrutinise policy terms, premiums and the available options which can be fairly complicated. In this aspect, a broker or adviser can help. Depending on the plans, you may also choose a deductible or co-payment to enjoy a reduction in premiums. You also need to check if the plans are guaranteed renewable.

Here are highlights of some available plans.

Tokio Marine: TM's Care & Health product is designed by Henner, a French group with a global presence, that provides healthcare solutions to 1.5 million members and their families. The plans are designed based on policyholders' area of residence and offer global cover but with some exclusions. One plan, for instance, excludes the US. A second plan excludes the US and other territories such as Mainland China, Switzerland and Brazil.

TM said the potential customer profile includes high net worth individuals, frequent travellers, companies who need cover for expatriate employees and their dependants, among others. The company has seen year-on-year growth in take-up. "One of the key selling points of the policy is that it is transferable - when an individual is insured under this policy in his company, he can convert this plan to an individual plan with no underwriting needed."

AXA Insurance GlobalCare Health Plan: AXA Insurance managing director for health Juliet Khew says demand for its plans - the Individual International/Exclusive and GlobalCare - has been " healthy" since their launch in 2012. AXA projects double digit growth for its international health plans over the next 12 months.

AXA's GlobalCare Health plan, for instance, offers cover for pre-existing conditions depending on the plan. A waiting period applies. If the policyholder has been troublefree for two consecutive years, he will be eligible for benefits. Depending on the plan chosen, coverage may exclude the US, or the US and Hong Kong.

Lifeline by Raffles Health Insurance:  Lifeline is insured by RHI and administered by Bupa Global. Members can be treated in any of around 7,500 participating hospitals and clinics worldwide.

There are three choices. Gold is the highest level of cover for inpatient and outpatient care. The Classic level covers specialist medical treatment and diagnosis, as well as inpatient hospitals stays and outpatient consultations. The Essential cover focuses on inpatient hospital stays. There is also worldwide medical assistance cover, with two options. One is for evacuation to the nearest centre of medical excellence. A second option is repatriation or return to home country.

There is a range of deductibles to choose from to lower your premiums.

AIA Platinum Health:  The plan offers coverage in Asian markets, such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India and the Asean, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand. AIA says the typical client profile includes expatriates, frequent travellers and those who seek quality medical care in Asia.

AIA says the take-up rate has been stable since the plan's launch in 2007. Premiums are priced with either a S$1,000 or S$3,000 deductible. Complimentary benefits include a free medical second opinion for any of 30 covered medical conditions, and health screening once every two policy years. w

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