Covid-19 - Do our insurance policies cover us?
Imagine my horror, after hiring a new helper to join my family, at having to visit the hospital 3 times within the span of a month (April 2021). Given the current pandemic and seeing how the numbers are rising in Singapore, it probably is wise to stay away from hospitals now especially for non-emergency cases. However, I had to go to the hospital to accompany my helper for her follow up and that she was feeling ill.
You see, my helper came straight from the Philippines, served her Stay Home Notice (SHN) and when she got tested at the tail end of the SHN, her test results showed she was COVID-19 positive. That resulted in a week’s stay at Alexandra Hospital where she had to test negative before being allowed to be discharged and join my family. I had waited for her arrival for months and now that she was finally home, I thought better days were ahead for us both. However, from the day she arrived till the time she left (which was all of 1 month!), we ended up going to the hospital 3 times and the GP twice. Having spent that much time in different medical facilities allowed me to think about our healthcare system and how insurance plays a vital role in families when one is ill or injured.
When it rains, it pours!
The first hospital I went to was Alexandra hospital where I accompanied my helper for her follow up 2 weeks after her discharge. My helper’s bloodwork came back good, but her haemoglobin levels were exceptionally low. Her period cycle came into question and a follow up with a gynaecologist was made. On top of that, she also had to do a urine test to check for any infections after complaining of pain during urinating. What resulted was a follow up scheduled 4 months later to do another check on her bloodwork.
Given that she was recovering from Covid, it soon dawned on me that her immune system must have been weakened by the illness and she was going to have complication as a result. I took it in my stride as it had taken a lot to get her to come to Singapore and if it meant that we needed her to get her health back in order, I was willing to do so.
Three days after that visit, when I thought that the follow-ups were the only medical issues I had to face, I was thrown a curveball. She woke up feeling dizzy and nauseous. That day alone she puked 7 times between the morning and noon. I took her to see the GP given that she was looking very weak. He said that it was stomach flu or gastroenteritis. He gave her some medicine and told her to rest and eat foods that would give her strength. 5 days passed and she was still nauseous. I got a little worried and decided on day 5 to bring her into the A&E. I ended up going to Sengkang General Hospital on the recommendation of a doctor friend. It was very empty that night! But it still took us hours before I was eventually told that she was still weak and was given paracetamol for her pain. In the hospital, however, she had to take a swab test. The results were to be given 2 days later.
True enough, 2 days later I received a call from a doctor from Sengkang General’s Infectious department. Her swab test came back POSITIVE! I was genuinely afraid especially since I have two young kids at home. An ambulance was sent for her within the next hour. 2 paramedics donning PPE suits appeared at my door and I had to send my helper off with them even though she was so scared at having to go there alone. After a 2-day hospital stay, the results showed that she was just shedding the virus and was not infectious thus she could return home. However, she was so weak and was still dizzy and nauseous. It had been a total of 10 days since the onset of her symptoms and less than a month since she had joined my household. I have since had to send my helper back home as she was so weak.
Covid is rampant and unforgiving. I have family and friends living all over the world and the same song is being sung. More people are getting infected by the virus and death tolls are rising. With the new variants of Covid 19 being present and how fast the virus mutates itself, we must keep vigilant and stay safe as much as possible. I recently read an article about Mucormycosis – The “Black Fungus” maiming Covid patients in India. The article talks about a new infection that is affecting those recovering or who have recovered from Covid19, especially in India. Basically, the treatment which is required to help patients recover from the virus is causing their immunity levels to drop thus being susceptible to new and deadly infections like the ‘Black Fungus’. Even with my helper, who was deemed fit before leaving the Philippines, Covid19’s effects seemed long-lasting. She was more fatigued, and she was also susceptible to more viruses and infections.
And now with the vaccines being offered in the community and the world, we are hearing of cases where there are some side effects faced by people. In some cases, deadly effects too such as blood clots and aneurysms. This leads me to the question: Are we covered for Covid 19 and any complications that arise from it or after being vaccinated? I am happy to assure you that the answer is a resounding YES! And the coverage can come in many forms as well. More insurers are moving quickly to increase the comprehensiveness of their Covid19 coverages as well as those related to complications from taking the vaccines.
Let us now have a look at what can be covered under the different categories of insurance.
As a Singaporean or Singapore PR, the government subsidizes your hospital stay if it is due to Covid 19. In fact, once tested positive, the response to isolate an individual in a medical facility is almost immediate. If you have an integrated shield plan, these plans also cover you in the event of hospitalization due to Covid19 and Covid19 vaccination side effects (foreigners included). International medical insurance coverage also includes Covid 19 coverage. But this is subject to the terms of the individual policy, especially where travel is concerned.
If you have a plan that gives you a hospital income benefit, it will also pay you a certain sum for every day that you are in the hospital depending on the plan type that you are under. Some insurers are also giving coverage in the form of Vaccine Funds – these plans are usually extended to the insurers’ policyholders and cover a sum of money for being hospitalized due to side effects from the vaccine.
As an employer who is bringing in foreign workers from abroad (this is prior to the current hold off of foreign workers), if you purchase medical insurance for them such as Maid Insurance, Work Injury Compensation or Foreign Worker Medical, you can also include a Covid 19 rider that covers them for the duration of their stay home notice. This is currently what I am claiming for my helper’s hospital stay and am awaiting the settlement from my insurer.
2. CRITICAL ILLNESS
Even though Covid 19 does not get termed as a critical illness in the list of conditions, any consequential complications arising after the diagnosis of Covid19 leading to a critical illness can be covered if you have an insurance plan with critical illness coverage.
Death due to Covid 19 is covered under all insurance plans with death coverage.
This virus has changed our lives in so many ways. Businesses have been affected, people have been affected and lives have been lost. I am thankful that we live in a place like Singapore where we are able to still continue some semblance of life. But I also know that we cannot be complacent and slack off on doing our part to keep our community safe. Stay safe everyone and I wish that this virus goes away just as fast as it came into our lives. Till then, let us pray for those who have lost their lives and for the families who have lost loved ones.
I hope this article has been helpful and if you have any further questions, you can send me a message in the contact box below. I wish you well! 😊