Without financial planning and determination, Ms Stella Teo's encounter with breast cancer could have turned out differently.
For five years since she first bought her critical illness plan, she put off check-ups until one day in 2018 - the year she discovered she had stage 2 breast cancer - when she finally decided to stick to her appointment.
Ms Teo, who is in her 50s, recalls: "I was enjoying my life and working from home. I finally had time for a check-up, but I missed my appointment. Two months later, I received a letter reminding me about the check-up, and I finally went for it."
After her diagnosis, she accepted recommendations for a mastectomy on the left breast, a biopsy on the right, and reconstruction surgery.
Protect yourself as soon as possible
Ms Teo's medical and hospitalisation bills of at least $50,000 were covered by insurance, and the payout she received from the critical illness plan would cover future medical expenses in case of a recurrence.
Someone else in her shoes, without adequate protection, would have had a vastly different experience.
She laments: "Why didn't I buy a plan with more coverage? My financial consultant tried to get me to increase my critical illness coverage back then, but I told her my priority was investing rather than insurance, so she suggested a policy I was comfortable with."
Insurer Manulife offers Critical SelectCare, an affordable critical illness policy that is available for less than $1 a day1.
The policy covers selected critical illnesses2 such as heart attacks of specified severity, major cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, and strokes. It also provides additional coverage for special conditions3 such as osteoporosis and severe rheumatoid arthritis, for up to $25,000 for each condition.
For example, a woman, aged 40, who does not smoke could buy Critical SelectCare for coverage of $100,000, with a monthly premium of $114.
If she suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis when she is 60, she gets a payout of $25,000. If she then contracts a major cancer when she is 70, she could get a payout of $100,000, with the Critical SelectCare plan ending upon this payout.
Protection against critical illnesses such as heart attacks, which many are unaware of, is a must. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in Singapore, but only 15 per cent of women polled in a 2019 Manulife survey understood how deadly it is.
Getting a critical illness plan can be easy
Picking a critical illness plan may be confusing with so much information to sift through. However, with Critical SelectCare, it does not need to be difficult. Here are some scenarios on how the plan can help.
Regain control of your finances
With these considerations, it is crucial for women to prepare for the future as they will confront situations such as dealing with critical illnesses later in life, and have to do so without spouses as women generally tend to outlive men.
The life expectancy for women in Singapore in 2017 was 87.6 years, compared with 81.9 years for men, according to a 2019 report5 released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
As lifespans increase, some may question a term policy such as a critical illness plan since they may outlive it. However, as Ms Teo's experience shows, critical illnesses can strike anytime, so Critical SelectCare plugs the gap for those who do not have protection yet.
She urges women to take responsibility for their well-being, saying: "Never take your health and finances for granted. I am a happy-go-lucky person and wasn't sickly, so being diagnosed with breast cancer came as a bolt out of the blue.
"I never thought I would face the Big C. My girlfriends had a huge wake-up call, and immediately reviewed their insurance coverage . Everyone should learn from my experience and be prepared for what comes your way."
From now till 31 August 2020, sign up for Manulife's Critical SelectCare and enjoy a 10 per cent perpetual premium discount. Terms and conditions apply.
Visit https://www.manulife.com.sg/en/campaign/critical-illness-protection.html to find out more about Manulife Critical SelectCare.
Notes and disclaimers:
1 Premium is based on 40 year old, non-smoker, female with sum insured of S$25,000, paying annual premiums.
2 100 per cent of sum insured or total premiums paid to date, less any and all amounts owing to us under the policy, whichever is higher will be payable upon diagnosis of a critical illness.
3 25 per cent of sum insured will be payable upon diagnosis of a special condition. Each condition can be claimed once during the policy term. A claim on any of the special conditions will not reduce the sum insured of the policy. This benefit is capped at S$25,000 per life per condition, regardless o the number of policies we have issued.
4You must be between 40 to 70 years old and pass the underwriting questions to qualify.
Terms and conditions apply. Visit https://www.manulife.com.sg/en/campaign/critical-illness-protection.html. Critical SelectCare is underwritten by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Reg. No. 198002116D). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Buying health insurance products that are unsuitable for you may affect your ability to finance your future healthcare needs. Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.