Combating diabetes and chronic diseases with health insurance

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National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2011 showed that 20.8% of our population had diabetes, one of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCD) among Malaysians.

When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the abolition of the 0.34 sen sugar subsidy and attributed it to increasing diabetes incidence, the public outcry was deafening.

To some, it may not be a good enough reason to cancel the sugar subsidy but data from the National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2011, showed that 20.8% of our population had diabetes, one of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCD) among Malaysians.

Gone are the days when you could live your life without health insurance coverage. The occurrence of NCDs has been rising steadily and menacingly in our society over the years. It refers to a medical condition or disease, which is non-infectious and non-transmissible among people, such as heart disease, stroke, many cancers, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and more. The problem with these diseases is that they are chronic, and cannot be cured entirely – only managed to reduce its toll for the remaining lifespan of its afflicted.

Many of us have experienced or is experiencing a situation where a family member or a close friend suffered from one of the above diseases and only know too well the financial repercussions it had on the patient and sometimes even his or her family. This is quite a common scenario which isn’t about to change for the better.

Health Insurance Industry

Health insurance is increasingly important in Malaysia. The Malaysian health insurance industry is expected to grow by more than triple in size to US$5 billion by 2020 from its previous industry valuation of US$1.5 billion in 2010, based on a study by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, entitled “Southeast Asia – The New Frontiers for Health Insurers”.

“For 1998, 2005 and 2010, Malaysia’s total health expenditure rose from US$4 billion to US$6 billion and then to US$11 billion and for 2020, it is expected to rise to US$29 billion,” said Philippe Chassat, partner and head of financial services for Southeast Asia and a co-author of the study.

Treating serious chronic medical ailments burns holes in our savings, which is why adequate health insurance cover is potentially the best way to deal with the future possibility of huge medical bills. As the prevalence of these diseases increases, it may put a tremendous pressure on your family’s finances unless a health insurance policy is in place to bear these undesired cots.

Furthermore, as an incentive to purchase health insurance, Malaysian residents paying personal income tax are also eligible for tax relief under medical insurance of up to RM3,000 a year from your chargeable income.

Medical insurance policy is a good way to protect yourself from any expenditure due to illnesses while reducing your income tax. You wouldn’t want to be caught in a situation where your health and finances are failing at the same time.

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