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Hundreds of thousands of jobs look likely to be lost worldwide as a direct result of the global financial crisis. Over 50,000 of these are likely to be lost at financial institution Citigroup, according to recent reports.
Many of the jobs that under threat are in the financial sector (as well as the automobile sector) and appear unlikely to affect us here in Asia – in the short-term anyway. However, these latest alarming figures and the overall situation should perhaps give us some pause for thought.
After all where would we be if we too were to lose our job through job cuts or even illness? What would happen if we were to require medical treatment after losing our job?
Those of us with corporate medical insurance arranged through our respective employers might be tempted to skip the remainder of this column in the knowledge that we are covered and have absolutely nothing to worry about. We could not be more wrong!
If we were to look closely at the fine print on our corporate medical insurance – or ask our employer – we might well find that our corporate medical insurance policy does not allow us what is known as continuous term transfer on leaving the company.
Essentially this means that if we become ill, cannot work and leave our job we run the risk of losing our medical coverage altogether. In addition if we leave our employment and have pre-existing conditions we also run the risk of losing our coverage or in the worst case insurability. In short, once we lose our job – we lose our health coverage.
In the first instance it is worth asking our employers whether our corporate medical insurance provider
1. has an individual plan and guarantees continuous term transfer, or 2. has an arrangement with a 3rd party for continuous term transfer
If the answer is no then in order to guard against the worst eventuality we should consider taking out our own health insurance policy to cover us in the event that we cannot work – for whatever reason.
To begin with there are a number of different types of health insurance plans that may be regional – or country-specific. However for Expatriates the most common cover would be a fee-for-service cover.
There are many companies who offer medical insurance plans and there are a variety of different levels of cover. The most basic plans just cover admission to hospital and possibly emergency evacuation while the most comprehensive plans cover everything from dental to optical and maternity.
With this traditional fee-for-service type of health insurance we – as the insured – are responsible for paying a deductible before the insurance pays benefits. Deductibles are usually around $50 but can be reduced to nil (by increasing the premium) or increased to thousands of dollars (and thus reducing the premium by up to 50%). Once this deductible is paid then the insurance company pays the rest of the medical bill.
This kind of policy allows us to go to any doctor or hospital we choose, pay them directly for the service and then obtain reimbursement from our insurance company. We can also often sign a form instructing the insurance company to pay the doctor or hospital directly if we have pre-arranged this with the insurance company. Some companies also offer direct billing services where you present your card, pay your deductible and the insurer then takes care of the rest.
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