Women’s Insurance – Do We Ladies Really Need It?
Client: “Is it true that women have much more medical issues than man?”
Me: “Well, I can’t say for sure but I do feel that way! Why do you say so?”
Client: “Oh…because I’ve heard so many times about this insurance plan especially for women but I never hear anything about insurance plans especially for men!”
I can’t say for sure if women have more medical issues and I’m certainly not qualified to give an opinion on this. What I can say, based on my qualification as a lady, is that women do want to be pampered and the insurance companies have certainly pampered us by coming out with many different versions of “women’s insurance” or what is also known as “lady’s insurance” (to keep it simple, I will use the term “women’s insurance” for this article).
It’s really an interesting type of insurance plan that can help to enhance the financial planning for women but before you make any rash purchase, it’s good to take a step back and understand what women’s insurance really is.
Here are the 3 “need to knows” about women’s insurance before you decide if this is really good for you.
1. Not just an insurance product but a lifestyle plan
Me: “Wow you look more toned than the last time we met! Have you turned into a fitness junkie?”
Client: “I’m actually a couch potato by nature. But I now do Pilates every alternate day after I signed up for a Pilates classes package. I am ‘forced’ to utilise them since I’ve already paid for them and I realise I’m in a better shape when I do that!”
Me: “That’s certainly a good way to keep fit! I’m sure you always ace your health check-ups.”
Client: “I actually don’t dare to go for health check-ups because they are not cheap and I’m afraid I may learn about my health problems. In fact I’ve procrastinated since I graduated and started working. Been thinking but never doing.”
Me: “Since you spoke about your Pilates package, I’m wondering if you had paid for a package that includes a comprehensive health screening, will you feel ‘forced’ to go for it?”
Client: “Definitely! Why wouldn’t I go if I’ve paid for it right? Is there something like this?”
A good comprehensive women’s insurance plan is somewhat akin to a fitness class / gym membership. It is a lifestyle plan that provides you with the means to and ‘forces’ you to take care of yourself. The difference is that instead of providing you with instructors and equipment, it provides you with a 3-Stage plan to help you manage your health proactively.
Stage 1: Prevention
A comprehensive women’s insurance plan usually comes packaged with medical checkups (usually once every 2 years) as one of the key benefits. This is one of the few types of insurance that provides for health checkups as one of the “coverage benefits”. More importantly, the checkups includes tests such as pap smear, mammogram and bone mineral density test which are specific, relevant and could potentially be life-saving for us women. Some plans even provide additional assessments such as Electrocardiogram (“ECG”) when we are older (e.g. 40 years old and above) with no requirement to pay additional premiums.
This gives a reason for ladies to still get their health checked despite the busyness of life, to detect for signs that require attention earlier and hopefully, make lifestyle adjustments before any serious medical issues occurs.
Unfortunately, while regular checkups can detect medical issues early, it does not completely prevent or eliminate the possibility of illnesses. The inevitable fact is that everyone stands a chance to fall sick and this brings me to my next point.
Stage 2: Medical Treatment – Both serious and less serious
You may have known that in Singapore, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting women. More than 25% of all cancers diagnosed in women are breast cancer and there are about 1,800 women being diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Again, this is where a good comprehensive women’s insurance plan is important as it is able to cover for both the more serious surgeries such as Mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) and the less serious ones such as Lumpectomy (removal of the lump).
In addition, most women’s insurance plans also provide for coverage for critical illnesses that are more common or even exclusive to women.
Here are some examples common illnesses covered in women’s insurance:
- Malignant cancer of female sites (e.g. breast, uterus, ovary, cervix…etc)
- Carcinoma in situ (i.e. non-invasive cancer) of female sites
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Osteoporotic fractures of the hip requiring surgery
These coverage provide a cash pay-out which is in addition to the hospitalisation benefits which most people already have and this provides a much needed financial support during such difficult moments. It can also help to provide for payments that are not covered in hospitalisation policies such as temporary loss of income, additional transportation expenses, health supplements and perhaps, even a short holiday trip which brings me to the next stage.
Stage 3: Rehabilitation
While the timely intervention of medicine and surgery have prevented a medical condition from becoming worse, the real goal of seeking treatment is to be back to our best.
Using breast cancer as an example, reconstructive breast surgery can be a life-changing procedure in the overall recovery and healing process. Such procedures are not covered even by private integrated shield plans and the cost have to be out-of-pocket.
Again, this is where an insurance plan that is tailored for a women’s needs is useful as it covers such procedures to make sure that money(or the lack of) should not be an impeding factor towards a such an integral step to a woman’s recovery.
Here are some examples of “Rehabilitation” benefits provided in women’s insurance:
- Reconstructive surgery due to Mastectomy following breast cancer, carcinoma in situ of breast, malignant skin cancer, accidental burns and accident
- Oocyte cryopreservation – Egg freezing before cancer treatment to preserve reproductive potential
- Molecular gene expression profiling test – This profiling test could be advised by your doctor as part of the post-surgery recovery plan
Again, such procedures may not be covered under the regular hospitalization and critical illnesses plans yet they play as important a role in helping to achieve what is really important – a full recovery.
From prevention to managing health issues when they arise and subsequently rehabilitation, a good and comprehensive women’s insurance plan is a vital compliment to support a proactive lifestyle.
2. Women’s Insurance – Not a duplicate, but a complement
A client once told me, “Insurance products such as women’s insurance are gimmicks by insurance companies. I already have critical illness coverage and I don’t want to be paying extra to duplicate the same cover.”
That is not necessarily correct as even if you have multiple Critical Illness insurance policies, you’ll be unable to claim when crippling illnesses such as chronic autoimmune hepatitis or rheumatoid arthritis strike. This is because these illness (which are more likely to happen in women) are not covered under the prescribed list of 37 Critical Illnesses in regular critical illness policies.
There are many types of women’s insurance products offered by different insurers and they generally will include “Female Illness” as a type benefit provided.
Here is an example of the common female illnesses covered and what is not as well as what is covered under regular critical illness policy definitions:
Besides illnesses, a comprehensive women’s insurance plan also covers for female surgeries benefit where lump sum amounts are paid out upon major surgeries to female sites (most of which will not trigger a critical illness payout).
While critical illness insurance is certainly an important part of everyone’s insurance program, a women’s insurance plan can be an essential complement without taking anything away from the existing coverage. In fact, even if there is any overlap in coverage (e.g. malignant cancer of female sites) a claim can be made on both policies for an even larger payout.
3. Especially relevant to young ladies
Women’s insurance will be a valuable addition to the insurance program of women in every age group but for young ladies, especially those in their 20s to 30s, this is even more relevant for a few reasons:
- Premiums are lower and more affordable when you start the plan early
- For young ladies who have not yet built up a substantial rainy day fund, having an unexpected medical condition could possibly wipe out all her savings and this is where insurance can protect against such financial situations.
- During a woman’s childbearing years, she may want to preserve her fertility in cases where fertility-compromising treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy are required. Women’s insurance that provide oocyte preservation (i.e. egg freezing) benefit can make sure there is funding so that the ability to have children in the future is not compromised.
Most importantly, having a plan like this helps build the habit of going for a comprehensive medical checkup once every 2 years and the earlier you start, the better.
As women’s insurance usually comes in a package, download this guide to help you understand what is covered in the packages to help you decide on a plan that is most suitable and appropriate for your needs.
(NOTE: Get our Guide to Women’s Insurance to help you understand what is covered in the package to help you decide on a plan that is most suitable and appropriate for your needs. Get your copy here)
Take charge, stay safe and happy insurance shopping!
Article by Lee Meng
The writer is an Executive Financial Services Consultant representing GEN Financial Advisory