An AXA-ptable performance

Published September 1, 2021, 9:44 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

AXA Take Charge of Your Health

For the very first time in my life, I was tapped as a resource speaker for a webinar. It was for an episode of AXA’s “What’s Your Game Plan” series, and the episode revolved around health plans and how one prepares for health-related eventualities. It was entitled “Take Charge of Your Health” and it was at first disorienting to see the poster, seeing myself labeled as a cancer survivor. But yes, I guess I do fall in that category now, and it’s precisely why I was invited.

Hosted by Connie Sison-Escudero, I was paired with Aya Laraya, financial coach and founder of the Ronin Group of Companies, to discuss how health issues affect the whole family, and what steps can be best taken to prepare for these eventualities.

My prostate cancer brachytherapy procedure involved this being inserted in me for 24 hours, and read on to discover where.

Let’s first summarize my medical issues. Early this year, in February, my then 65-year-old body was diagnosed with Stage 1 Prostate Cancer. After establishing it had not spread to my bones, I underwent a Brachytherapy radiation procedure, which meant for 24 hours, there are these twelve big, hollow needles left inserted between your penis and anus. Four times over the 24 hours, you’re brought down to the radiation room and via the needles, concentrated radiation is bombarded to your prostrate. Fortunately for me, three months later, when I had my PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test, the score of my PSA went considerably down. Although I’m still undergoing treatment, I seem to have averted any more serious deterioration of my prostrate condition.

As I relayed, this cancer was completely unexpected. I’ve been doing annual executive check-ups for the last five years, and I’m extremely lucky we caught my condition early. As prostate cancer is hereditary, my three sons were asked to join me when Dr. Steve Lim, my urologist, explained the options for treatment, and they were advised to include PSA in their blood tests from around the age of 40.

I’m covered by an AXA Global Health Access Plan; and to be honest, with my earnings taking a hit because of the pandemic, there was a moment last year when I was thinking if I should renew. It was the classic situation of paying for four years in a row, and not making any use of the policy. Call it foresight or just blind luck, but I renewed the plan, and with a great degree of convenience and highly satisfactory service, the plan covered up to 75 percent of the hospital bills that reached north of P800,000. Obviously, the plan was a great blessing, and proved it’s worth in a big way.

Penetration of medical insurance among Filipinos is still very low. And honestly, it’s crazy how we’re so ready to insure our car, our house, even our mobile phones, every year, without questioning the premium; but ignore our own bodies, and our families who’ll be affected when something is untoward occurs.

Annual check ups are so important, and as both Aya and I advised, it’s a matter of finding the right health plan for you. No plan will be perfect, but the moment you’re earning, the moment there are others depending on you, you owe it to yourself and to them, to be protected. You find the one with a premium that’s comfortable given your earning capacity, and you go over it well to ensure it’s comprehensive enough for your needs. PhilHealth will always help, but it often won’t cover so many things that will crop up.

Reading the fine print, going over the features are essential. Is TeleConsulting covered as that’s the reality of health care today with the pandemic. Is a second or third opinion covered? As an outpatient, are treatments covered? What kind of room is guaranteed with the premium you pay, and can you choose your hospital, your doctors? These are just some of the questions I would ask.

My AXA GHA was borne out of the fact that pre-pandemic, I’d be traveling often, and a feature of the GHA was coverage abroad. That’s not so important now, and I like how the new AXA Health Care Access Plan is practically as comprehensive except for the coverage abroad aspect.

As Aya Laraya succinctly commented, a health plan isn’t an investment product. It shouldn’t be thought of in terms of ROI or did it earn. Like our car insurance, it’s about protection, and we should be happy enough if we didn’t make use of it in any given year, as it means we were healthy those years. But as I found out, when it is needed and of value, you’ll be more than happy that you have it, and lessen the burden on yourself or your family. Too often, since the pandemic started, I’ve seen the sad posts of friends having to call for “charity,” or organizing events to raise money for their hospital bills.

It’s never too early, or too late, to seriously think of getting health insurance, and lessening the physical, mental, and financial toll on yourself and your family members, when health issues do arise.