Medical insurance and the invincibility fallacy

Published May 2, 2021, 12:22 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


Philip Cu Unjieng

For years, I’d be paying my annual medical insurance premium, and wondering at times, whether it was worth the expenditure. The present plan I’m subscribed to is the Global Health Access of AXA (partnered with Avega and Intellicare); and it’s a plan I chose back then because after the agreed upon deductible, it covered all in-patient hospital expenses, and had me covered even when traveling abroad (except in the USA). Pre-pandemic, we all travelled a lot, and I thought this plan was the right one for me.

As I started with the plan right before I turned senior citizen, you can imagine the premium I was paying was no laughing matter. For years, the only thing I’d get reimbursed for was the executive check-up I’d undergo annually. Given that up to January of 2020, the check-up results would paint a rosy picture of my health situation, when it came time to renew in September of 2020, with my financial resources greatly reduced because of the pandemic and travel a bygone experience for now, I’ll confess that I was procrastinating on whether to renew the coverage. Call it “kutob,” but I decided at the last minute to renew the plan, feeling that any delusional feeling of invincibility I might have, was not a strong enough reason to not be “covered” – and thank God that I did.

I’ve written about being diagnosed with prostate cancer in February of this year, catching it at stage 1. I underwent Brachytherapy, preferring to address the situation before it spread and metastasized to my bones. And my AXA plan was the proverbial godsend. After the deductible I had to pay, the plan still covered over 75 percent of my total hospital bill. And it was the more than efficient service that AXA rendered that had me really impressed. Darren Woo Go handles my health insurance account, and he was super fast getting back to me to let me know that any of the cancer procedures I would undergo were covered.

When I called Darren on a Thursday to say that I wasn’t a viable candidate for the IGRT (Image-Guided Radiation Therapy), was switching to Brachytherapy, and was checking into the hospital on Sunday; he made the necessary calls and assured me that Avega would be there when I checked in Sunday, and that everything was arranged. That proved to be more than true, and registering Sunday, and checking out of the hospital Wednesday, were a breeze.

Now at AXA Philippines, (from left) Gaël Lapie, AXA chief finance officer; Rose Musico, AXA chief of commercial business; and Nandy Villar, AXA chief customer officer.

I’ve befriended the AXA Philippines executives through the years, but I was still surprised to get messages from AXA Philippines President and CEO Rahul Hora, from Marie Raymundo and Nikki Constantino, as well as new hire, Chief Customer Officer Nandy Villar – all inquiring as to whether their AXA service was on the ball. Truly, it made me feel like I wasn’t just a paid-for policy number, or statistic on their sales charts – and I was thankful.

So when I was asked to help announce their new executive hires, it was an easy decision to say yes. AXA has made me feel like “family.” I’ve mentioned Nandy Villar; and there are Gaël Lapie, the new chief finance officer, and Rose Musico, chief of commercial business. Together, the three are now part of the new dynamic team that’s seeking to cement the solid position that this French insurance company has established here in our country.

This May, I understand they’re launching a new Local Medical Plan, one that may revolutionize how medical insurance can be offered here. It’s one I’ll be curious to discover, explore, and compare with the Global Health Access I’m covered by.

If this all sounds like some ringing, unsolicited testimonial for medical insurance in general, and AXA in particular, so be it. If there’s something this pandemic has taught us, it’s that one can never be too prepared, and it’s prudent to anticipate the unforeseeable in whatever way possible. Our health is paramount here, and during a time when our income-generating can be compromised, there’s nothing like being covered via more than adequate medical insurance.

PhilHealth is fine, and it helped me enjoy testing discounts when I was at the hospital, but it was the AXA plan that pulled through for me in a big way. Think about it, we don’t even spare a second thought when we pay insurance for our car, so why was I even second-thinking insurance coverage of my own body?