Patrick (not his real name) suffered some discomfort late at night. As the normal clinics were already closed, he went by himself to a private hospital to seek consultation.
While waiting for the test results, Patrick collapsed and went into a coma. His condition worsened and he ended up having multiple organ failure. Four specialists (including one anaesthetist) had to be put on standby to stabilize his condition. Patrick also had to be connected to a life support machine in ICU just to keep him alive.
1) Patrick only had a private shield plan that covered him only up to A ward in a government hospital, so he can only claim 65% of the private hospital bill from his insurance. The original bill is a whopping $12,000 a day so the uninsured portion works out to be about $4200 a day. There is also an annual limit of $250,000 for his current insurance plan. Transferring him to a government hospital is out of the question due to his condition.
2) As his insurance plan is on a reimbursement basis, his family had to fork out money to pay for the bill first. The hospital requires his family members to make payment whenever the outstanding bill hits $20,000, which is once every two days.
3) Patrick keeps most of his money in single bank accounts and did not give any supplementary credit cards to his wife, so his non-working wife did not have the funds to pay.
4) Patrick is in a coma, so he is unable to sign the Medisave Authorisation Form to allow the CPF Board to pay the hospital bill from his own Medisave Account. This is one of the shortcomings about our current system. However, his family members would be allowed to use their Medisave to pay for the bill. Even so, the Medisave would probably be depleted in no time looking at the size of the bill.
What lessons can we draw from this incident?
1) Ensure your current medical insurance plan fits your needs and make sure your family members know what kind of hospitals and wards you are covered for.
2) Keep some joint bank accounts with emergency cash – with your spouse if you are married and with your parents if you are single. Supplementary credit cards can also be useful.
3) Consider signing the Advance Medical Directive. (AMD) The AMD is a legal document you sign in advance to inform your doctor that you do not want the use of any life-sustaining treatment to be used to prolong your life in the event you become terminally ill and unconscious and where death is imminent.
And in case you were wondering what led to Patrick’s collapse, it was gall bladder infection which resulted in Septicemia.
Read part 2 here: