How to find the best insurance solutions when choices are limited 09/04/2020
We have been questioned by many clients about insurance cover in the event that they or their family contract Covid-19. Apart from worrying about self-protection, social distancing and working from home, many are keen to know what will happen if they are hospitalised due to the virus. The answer is as complicated as knowing when this outbreak will end.
It really depends where in the world you are located, whether the state will treat you under its national health system, or whether you will be treated privately and charged for the service. If you self-isolate with symptoms, many insurers will at least cover the cost of medications.
Whilst insurers will cover existing policy holders, some insurers are now putting exclusions in place on existing policies or declining new clients. For Example: I received an SMS text message last week from my bank, who offers travel insurance as part of a current account package. It told me that on the new contract (I didn’t know I had one) Covid-19 related incidents would be excluded.
This was about a week after we had received notification from a leading UK insurer informing us, they were not accepting any new life and medical clients and were also placing exclusions on their travel policies. Worth pointing out some insurers already have pandemic exclusions in their policies but to our knowledge are not enforcing this clause in light of these unprecedented circumstances.
So, with choices becoming more restrictive, what should I be looking for when I buy medical insurance? With so many different scenarios amid the moving mosaic right now, the needs of every person, family or business are different, depending on country location and how governments are handling the situation.
What am I covered for if i become infected?
Many insurers will Cover Covid-19 as any other sickness or illness. Usually under the diagnostics, testing and treatment benefits. In some cases, as this is a sickness the clauses on / illness, excess / deductibles, co-insurances and co-pay could apply. We are aware of insurers who have offered to waive all co-pays and excesses on Covid-19 tests and of course full hospitalisation cover for existing and new policy holders.
Are Covid-19 home tests covered?
This is the most common question we have received. The answer is yes, some insurers will cover this as a diagnostic, while others will cover it only if you are showing symptoms.
Am I covered globally?
The answer to this question becomes a little complicated in some places. In Thailand for example you could choose a private hospital to be treated at, where you would be covered by the insurer, whereas in the UK or China, the NHS or the Chinese Government respectively are responsible for testing and treatment. Insurance in some cases would pay a cash benefit based on nights you spend in hospital, of course this would be based on the terms and conditions of your policy.
Here is information that we have compiled from insurers which may help you to understand how various scenarios are being handled in different locations.
Hong Kong: Private hospitals have been limiting or refusing service to any patients who have travelled to mainland China, South Korea, Italy (Lombardia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna), or Iran in the previous 14 days, whether they have symptoms or not. Such patients should seek hospital-required services at public hospitals which are currently seeing patients who have recently traveled to China. Most private clinics are closed. If a person has visited Hubei Province in the previous 14 days, they are advised to call +852 2125 1122 (Dept of Health). Those who have visited other areas of mainland China or South Korea, Italy (Lombardia, Veneto, Emilia Romagna), or Iran must self-quarantine for 14 days and wear a mask if they go outside. Hospital visitors & patients are also advised to wear a mask before entering.
China: Private hospitals have been directing patients with respiratory symptoms or elevated temperatures, and prior travel to Hubei Province within 14 days beforehand, to seek services at Designated Fever Clinics. Parkway Inpatient Specialty Centre, Gleneagles Clinic, and Jin Qiao Clinics in Shanghai, are open with limited GP service. While Shanghai United Family Hospital are open, other affiliated dental and physiotherapy clinics are closed. Beijing Vista and Beijing United Family Hospital remain open, with United Family also accepting expat patients.
United Kingdom: Private hospitals have closed to Covid-19 patients while the NHS handles tests and treatment nationwide, with some private hospitals ceding their facilities to NHS use. In the UK there is at least one insurer offering a £250 per day cash benefit payable for each day you are hospitalized up to a maximum of £5,000. There are also various incentives for people working at home, which include discounts and free memberships to home fitness training and smart watches.
USA: Insurers have been quick to waive cost-share and Co-Pay on Covid-19 related treatment and tests. The moves could also end up saving insurers money, too. If patients delay testing or treatment because they’re worried about how much it will cost them — a real possibility given the number of people who are worried about losing their jobs – their illnesses could progress further than they might have if they had gotten medical care earlier, resulting in higher costs for the insurers. Most states have been arranging for insurers to:
- Ease preauthorization requirements related to Covid-19 testing.
- Cover or expand coverage of telehealth services.
- Provide an in-network level of coverage for patients who seek out-of-network care due to Covid-19-related health care system disruption.
- Cover early refills of enrolees’ prescription medications, to help enrolees prepare for quarantines or other events that might make it difficult for the enrolees to get to drug stores
These are selected examples and the situation will vary in every country and in different parts of large countries. And, as with everything everywhere right now, situations and insurance are evolving daily.
At Health Well Solutions, we aim to keep our clients at the pulse of these changes to help them navigate through today’s choppy waters. Please feel free to contact us for advice on your situation. We will try to steer you to the best available insurance solution for your own specific needs.