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Often, we think of critical illness as a distant unfortunate event that happens to older people. But, recent happenings have proven that the young are equally at risk as to the elderly.
According to experts, critical illness such as heart attack can happen even if you are physically active and consider yourself healthy.
With the increasing medical costs in 2020, long recovery time, income reduction, physical and emotional struggles for you and your loved ones, the most practical action to take is to be financially prepared as early as possible.
Here are the stories of four brave Malaysians who have seen the worst of critical illnesses and emerged victoriously. Let their stories give us the strength and awareness to take the right step towards better health and wealth.
Emily Tan: From fit and active to surviving leukaemia in her 30s
“I don’t think I’d be here, honestly, if I didn’t have insurance.”
However, in her 30s and at her healthiest, she was taken aback when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (a type of cancer). Her dreams were suddenly put on hold.
Fortunately, she had the support needed to make sure she could return stronger than before. Having medical insurance coverage, her treatment at the hospital was taken care of. However, she still faced a major problem with her finances.
Sharing her struggle, Emily said, “It was tough because my insurance will only cover the medical costs, but the rest of it had to come from my own pocket. And my family had to chip in to help me with living expenses and things that were not covered by my policy.”
“The other expenses that I had were alternative treatment, second opinions and things that didn’t really classify as medically necessary such as seeking nutritional support with functional medicine and mental health care with clinical psychologists. These were expenses I had to fork up, on top of rent, phone bills, grocery bills and transportation to the hospital.”
In retrospect, her healing process would have been easier if she didn’t have to worry about her income and other incurring expenses. A study on wound healing processes shows that psychological stress delays recovery from injury and surgical procedures. Hence, a stress-free recovery period is of utmost importance to reduce complications.
“Having insurance coverage, I realised is extremely important, because I honestly don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have insurance.”
Emily is now an advocate for mental health. She is more determined and focused than ever to make a change in the world.
Hisham Hamzah: Survived a heart attack in his 30s and almost could not provide for his young son’s future
“The worst thing that could happen is not having a financial cushion or financial protection for the future of my family.”
Hisham’s worry when he had a heart attack at age 34 was about his four-year-old son’s future. With a loving family whose future was dependent on him, Hisham dreamed of the best education opportunity for his son and comfortable life for his family. Naturally, a heart attack was his worst nightmare.
Despite the traumatic experience of a heart attack, Hisham said he decided to get back to work without taking the prescribed one-month rest from work. Fearing that he may be deemed unfit to continue his work, he showed up at the office just two weeks after his treatment to make sure he still had a job.
Just like many breadwinners out there working to provide a quality life for their families, Hisham’s own health came second to him. Instead of focusing on healing, Hisham was set to carry on with life to ensure the wellbeing and protection of his family.
“Because I was worried, I wanted to show my employer that, ‘Eh I’m still fit, I can still work’. So, that was the hardest thing I had to deal with.”
However, Hisham is grateful that he added critical illness insurance into his protection plan.
He was beyond relieved to know that his follow-up medical expenses, his family’s living expenses and most importantly, his son’s education expenses would be covered.
“One of the worries was my son’s education. He was still very young and has a future right ahead of him. I was afraid I might not be able to provide for that future. So, when I got the insurance claim, I was happy to know that I could secure his future for the next few years.”
“I used the lump sum payment mostly to secure my son’s education for the next few years because I think that’s the most important thing now. Having the ability to do that gives me peace.”
After the scary realisation of what could be lost in an instant, Hisham appreciates his family more. His son still tops his priority list and he is even more focused on providing a financially-secured life for his family, more so in the event of unexpected emergencies.
Jared & Marianne: While Jared faced the hardship of testicular cancer, Marianne’s life turned upside down as his caregiver
“You must think that insurance is not for you alone. It’s for the people around you who are going to be burdened after that.”
For a couple who were passionately pursuing their dreams, building careers, nurturing their relationship, cancer was not on the cards. The couple were focused and doing well for themselves when one day, one of them had to deal with surgery and chemotherapy while the other had to become a caretaker around the clock.
YouTuber Jared was diagnosed with testicular cancer and was caught unaware of how bad the treatment would be, especially his rounds of chemotherapy.
“I didn’t feel like myself. I was constantly hungry, but at the same time I couldn’t eat, because I had no appetite. When I tried to eat, I would feel like vomiting.”
While Jared battled cancer and was concerned about his business, his wife Marianne took on the difficult task of being his caregiver. She had to deal with his post-treatment procedures and chemotherapy side effects.
Jared shared a particular experience Marianne had to go through.
“Chemo farts are on the next level of smell and she had to bear with it. The smell is like chemical level and it sticks to your blanket. As I couldn’t walk around after my surgery and chemo, the blanket smelled really bad.”
Taking on the role of caregiver, Marianne was starting to grow wary of their household expenses.
“I was looking at Jared, not just feeling worried about his state of health, but also worried about the cost of his illness. Is this going to cost us our home, cars and the business?
Her worry about financial constraints was soon put to rest because they found out that Jared was covered by critical illness insurance.
“Our insurance agent came in and quickly took charge of everything, assuring us that it’s all covered. The money from the lump sum payout could be used to cover for any expenses we had such as those related to our household – utility bills, monthly mortgage, our car instalments; it was not restricted to Jared’s hospitalisation and medical treatment. That just instantly took so much weight off our shoulders.”
Jared and Marianne worked as a team and overcame what could be the toughest hurdle of their lives. They had each other and the lump sum payout from critical illness insurance to ensure things were under control, even when both of them were knee-deep with treatments and post-treatment care.
Jeslinda Paul: A model who had to pick up the pieces of a shattered dream
“To have a clear mind, you need your finances secured. That’s what I believe in and it really helped me when I had it secured.”
She had a corporate dream and a passion for modelling. She was also young and all set for a grand life full of opportunities, hope and positivity. Unfortunately, Jeslinda Paul Devasahayam was involved in a car accident when she was 23 years old.
Jeslinda saw her dream shatter right in front of her eyes. Suffering a spinal cord injury, she had to rebuild her life… on a wheelchair.
She was worried about her family, her work and other limitations to her normal routine, but her main worry was money.
“Who is going to support me, the surgery and everything after that? Finance was one of the main worries besides my career and whether everything would be okay. Those were my thoughts.”
Jeslinda had just started working and didn’t think much about insurance and being financially protected. She relied on the insurance from her employer and believed she was still too young to worry about insurance.
In retrospect, Jeslinda regrets not having taken action earlier.
“Looking back, if I had my own insurance protection, it could have helped me heal better.
“Because when you know your finances are secured, you don’t need to worry about it, and you can focus better on your healing.”
“When finance comes into the picture, you tend to overthink a lot and you can be very negative- minded.”
A year after the accident, Jeslinda enrolled in an accounting degree at Victoria University Sunway Campus to learn new knowledge and to pursue her dreams in the corporate world so that she could become independent again.
Strong-willed and determined to make the best of her life and not let her disability get in the way of her dreams, Jeslinda is steadily making her way onwards.
Critical illness insurance: Do you really need it?
Basic medical insurance will cover your cost of treatment, medication and hospitalisation while critical illness insurance will pay a lump sum payout once you are diagnosed with a critical illness.
You can use the lump sum payout to pay for follow-up medical costs which include alternative treatment, supplements, consultations and even financial support to the family which will not be covered by your medical insurance.
3 questions you need to ask when you choose a critical illness insurance
When it comes to critical illness insurance, there are a lot of providers out there and you might be confused to nail down the one that is best for your needs.
It is always wise to single out insurance providers who are going above and beyond to provide comprehensive coverage. For instance, Prudential’s PRUMy Critical Care solution covers almost double the number of critical illnesses than the average.
Some of the things that you need to keep in mind while choosing a critical illness insurance scheme are:
1. How many critical illnesses are being covered by the scheme?
PRUMy Critical Care provides among the highest coverage in the market. While most providers cover only 70-80 critical illnesses, Prudential is offering financial protection against 160 conditions.
2. What are the age limit and other coverage requirements?
PRUMy Critical Care covers you up to age 100 for early, intermediate and late-stage detection.
It also provides protection in the event of a re-diagnosis for three of the most prevalent diseases – cancer, heart attack and stroke.
3. Any special coverages?
PRUMy Critical Care has additional Special Benefit coverage on Diabetic Related Conditions and Joint Related Conditions.
Moreover, it also comes with comprehensive critical illness coverage that allows multiple claims up to 400% of the rider sum assured. Don’t let your age, your lifestyle, or your lack of awareness stop you from living your best life. Get critical insurance coverage now and get peace of mind. Speak to a Prudential Wealth Planner today through a virtual insurance consultation, all from the comfort of your home.