When a patient recovers from a major illness, that illness becomes part of his medical history.
When that patient tries to buy a new health insurance policy, or switch insurers, that history is considered a pre-existing illness, which may affect his new application.
As a medical practitioner, I have come across patients having problems with new insurance applications. The insurers would normally either put an extra loading on their premium, or exclude the body system associated with the pre-existing illness.
As a result, most patients would have no choice but to remain on the same policy, as they would have difficulties switching policies or insurers.
One insurer's policy of raising the rider renewal premiums by up to three times after a claim, for instance, would hence affect policyholders who have recovered from a major illness (Prudential to tie rider renewal premiums to claims made; March 30).
As they have little option of switching to other insurers who charge lower premiums, they would have to pay whatever premiums their current insurer charges.
For those who have never made a claim, it sounds good that their premium may drop by 10 per cent. But they would benefit only if they never fall sick in future.
Penalising customers after a claim may sound logical. But it may result in healthy individuals switching to other insurers with "non-penalising" premiums before they fall sick.
Desmond Wai (Dr)