Commentary

Start the year right by protecting yourself

Good insurance kept me from financial dire straits after a cancer diagnosis. With health at a premium nowadays, the right, versatile coverage is essential

The author doing chemotherapy for breast cancer, 2013

With another challenging year finished, one thing that is foremost on my mind is the importance of staying healthy, especially with the harrowing experience of COVID-19, and how the value of health has been dramatically underscored. New Year’s resolutions are nothing new, but in the light of a health scare of the last two years, resolutions to start the next year right but making sure I’m ready for anything become even more important.

Maybe it’s my more pragmatic side, but when I was diagnosed with stage 2A invasive ductal carcinoma, a.k.a. breast cancer, in 2013, the first thing that went through my mind as I sat in the doctor’s office was not whether I was going to die; I knew I had a fighting chance. Instead, it was, “How on earth am I going to pay for this treatment?”

It took a few minutes for me to remember that, thank God, I had medical insurance. A quick check when I got home further confirmed that, while my plan generally covered only treatment during confinement, it also said that outpatient treatment was covered in a few cases. One of these cases was intravenous chemotherapy, of which I had a total of 12 sessions, each costing at least P23,000. In fact, things fell into place, because I had also been setting aside money for a condo renovation. This money then went to cover my treatment first, with the insurance replenishing the renovation fund later on.

I was an excellent example then of the benefit of advance planning, although some more happy-go-lucky friends called it paranoia. (They eventually came around when I got sick.)  I was single, relatively independent, although I lived with my mother, and was making enough money to save for rainy days and catastrophes, such as this unexpected illness. As it turned out, I was what insurance companies would label a Health-Conscious Protector, someone in their late 30s to early 50s—I was 48 at the time of my diagnosis—who had invested in some kind of insurance to prepare for my future.

Because I was then already a freelancer and had no company medical insurance, I purchased my own at age 43. I had been paying a hefty annual premium since then, and hadn’t claimed a cent in five years. When the time came to file claims, what the insurance company covered amounted to around five times what I had paid in premiums—a tremendous return of investment that made me very grateful that I made the right decision. Because of such foresight, I also did not need to borrow money, and my savings remained largely untouched.

Such protection has become even more critical in the last two years because of the challenge of COVID-19. There is the constant possibility of infection, particularly with the highly contagious Omicron variant, despite one’s best efforts to stay safe. Loss of work opportunities and the resulting inability to save money have put many Filipinos in financial difficulty. Plus, if the virus does strike, the potentially astronomical cost of treatment can seriously hurt the pocket, especially considering the high and still rising cost of healthcare in the Philippines

A silver lining of this crisis, however, is that Filipinos are finally, albeit somewhat belatedly, seeing the importance of insurance protection. An article on the Statista website dated Dec. 7, 2020 by Martha Jean Sanchez revealed that because of COVID-19, “Filipinos have increasingly recognized the risks from a lack of protection in cases of death, accidents, and hospitalization costs from illness.”

Thus, people are now opting to take better care of themselves and acknowledging what a difference it makes when you’re insured. They are planning better for a secure future in the light of limited financial resources, since the money is going to more basic needs. Other than the aforementioned Health-Conscious Protectors, a younger demographic is also seeing the light: the Adulting Millennials, in their late 20s to early 30s, who are probably establishing themselves and starting their own families, but have already developed the maturity to be financially responsible.

The best move, then, for this market today would be investing in an insurance plan, and one that covers all the bases. With so many things to consider, a plan with comprehensive features, no hidden clauses, and even an option to increase coverage is certainly worth one’s money—and a big contribution to one’s peace of mind. Investing in an excellent insurance plan is one great way to start the coming new year right—with the best protection.

AIA Philippines’ All in One PLUS is one such insurance plan, with emphasis on the PLUS. That stands for Protection from major risk, Living a healthier Life, Upgrading coverage, and Saving for the future, all with just one variable insurance product.

The Life Insurance component and death benefit is for those thinking of the people they could possibly leave behind. More benefits are thrown in, however, as the plan also offers personal accident coverage; protection in case of total and permanent disability; and that big one, coverage of most common critical illnesses—yes, including cancer, kidney failure, end-stage lung disease, and others. The fact is, many cancer patients do survive, but end up with crippling debts or pushed to financial dire straits. The equanimity I had, knowing that my plan was going to deliver, certainly contributed to my healing, allowing me to focus on the task at hand of getting better.

The integrated AIA Vitality component packs a double whammy. First is a Coverage Boost, when one can be insured for as much as 50 percent more than the original sum over time. The Loyalty Boost on your tenth year, meanwhile, means a possible increase in your plan’s investment value depending on your annual Vitality status. In other words, the longer you stay protected, the more you stand to gain in time of need.

Finally, if one is looking to make money grow, Investment Funds offer the opportunity for long-term savings and more, depending on your risk appetite, thanks to experts handling a range of AIA-managed funds.

At a time when people are always harping about self-care, it helps to incorporate a more forward-looking dimension to such an attitude. I certainly enjoy my self-pampering treatments, a purchase to reward myself, a beach vacation to recharge. Right up there, however, is the knowledge that if anything unpleasant and unexpected happens—and yes, anything can happen—a good, all-in-one insurance plan will make sure everything is covered—even my hopes and my goals.

Click here to know more about AIA All-In-One Plus, visit AIA Philippines on www.aia.com.ph, or on Facebook. You may also email customerservice.ph@aia.com or call (02) 8528-2000.

About author

Articles

She is a writer, editor, breast cancer and depression survivor, environmental advocate, dog mother to three asPins, Iyengar yoga instructor and BTS Army Tita. She edits part-time for a broadsheet, but is headed towards a full-time vocation as an online English writing coach and grammar nazi.

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