When I first moved to South East Asia in 2005 I was very fortunate to be provided with exceptional medical insurance by my employer as part of my contractual benefits package. It was top level insurance and gave me peace of mind that I was covered for everything including medical evacuation in the unlikely event that I would ever require it. Fast forward 10 years and I found myself in a new role with a new company, this was a smaller and privately owned company and the type of insurance that was being offered as part of my package was not sufficient for me as an expat. I did not feel comfortable and I knew that just having the level of coverage being offered was not going to be adequate for me in the case of requiring serious or even mild medical attention. I was smart enough to know that I therefore needed to research and obtain my own medical insurance that would be adequate should the unexpected happen. Fast forward another 2 years and after I had just returned from a long haul flight from the states I did encounter the unexpected and experienced a horrific medical emergency.
I found myself short of breath, a very weird and concerning thing to experience, I was based in a remote location and a good 3 hours drive from an International standard medical facility. My breathing condition deteriorated and I knew I needed to seek medical attention and had planned to make the journey to Phnom Penh to see my GP, I never made it to that appointment. On the evening of July 17 2017 I collapsed whilst at work, what followed was harrowing to say the least. In hindsight I was also very fortunate that I collapsed at work where I was found by some colleagues, by luck I was also able to access an SOS ambulance and doctor who was able to assess my situation within a couple of hours of the initial incident occurring. The doctor’s assessment was not good and he informed me that I needed to get to a hospital and fast, initially suggesting a local facility which I was not prepared to go to. I knew my situation was serious and I requested to be taken to Royal Phnom Penh hospital. It was now after midnight as the ambulance embarked on the journey to Phnom Penh, I was admitted to hospital and they performed a number of tests and procedures and it was discovered that I had DVT ( deep vein thrombosis) and as it works out it was a rather large blood clot in my left calf. The blood clot had started to break apart and had travelled through my heart and blocked one of the entry chambers to my lungs. I was in the ICU unit thinking all was going to be ok as I was obviously in the best place possible and receiving the best treatment that was available in the country. Unfortunately whilst in hospital a larger section of the blood clot detached and this times as it passed through my heart it caused me to have a cardiac arrest and I needed to be resuscitated. I do not recall having the heart attack or recall what transpired directly after that happened.
I regained consciousness tied to a hospital bed, an intubation tube down my throat, IV tubes in both my arms and one in my foot, a urinary catheter in place and tubes up my nose with people leaning over me telling me to stay calm and that I was in Bangkok. The second and major blot cold had blocked the entry chamber to my lungs and I had what is known as bi-pulmonary embolism. The doctors said that it was a miracle I was still alive, I was in a critical condition and my chances of survival were slim. I had required medical evacuation from Phnom Penh to Bangkok where I was treated by world class expert specialists who managed to save my life. After just over 4 weeks in Bangkok hospital I had recovered and now over 3 years later I have fully recovered and I am able to live a full, happy and healthy life. All up my medical costs came in at 160,000 USD. That is One Hundred and Sixty Thousand U.S dollars. I will forever be grateful and thankful that I was smart enough to ensure I had the appropriate medical insurance to cover such an emergency and associated costs. The reality is had I not had the level and appropriate medical insurance I would have not survived.
It was not just the total cost of this incident that my insurance policy covered that was important. At each and every stage of what transpired the hospitals wanted deposits before they would proceed with any treatments or investigative tests. The deposit requested for the medical evacuation was 24,000 USD alone, I did not have access to this amount of money in an instant, it was late at night in Australia and my next of kin would also not have had instant access to this amount of money. My insurance provider was based in the U.K and they had 24 hour emergency contact and they were able to provide rapid and timely approvals to guarantee payment so I was able to receive all the treatment required and I did not have to part with any of my money and then go through a claim back process. Being an Australian and knowing that in Australia as is the case in many countries a medical facility will treat an emergency first to save a life and ask the financial questions later, this is not the case in all countries. Hospitals in many destinations require a cash deposit to cover expected costs before they will perform or conduct life saving and critical medical care.
Living and working abroad is truly a privilege and truly a wonderful life experience, however things can go wrong and it is more than foolish and irresponsible for any expat undertaking this lifestyle to not have adequate and proper medical insurance. Ironically and now just over 3 years post this harrowing medical emergency I am an Insurance Executive with Infinity Financial Solutions and my primary goal is to assist people in ensuring that they have the right insurance for their needs. No one ever wants to be in the position of having to use their insurance cover but we do not know what is around the corner, you will never know the true value of insurance until you need it most. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org should you wish to discuss your insurance needs or to just have a conversation to ensure that you do in fact have the right insurance to protect and cover you should you need it.
I am delighted to bring my in-depth knowledge and experience of insurance to Infinity clients in Cambodia and beyond. I have a profound understanding of excellent customer service and am passionate about delivering it to all my clients.