Recently, I met a young professional who had an unfortunate accident while in the United States of America (US).
She was admitted in hospital for about a week and she underwent various surgeries to place implants in her body.
She was discharged and returned back to Singapore two weeks later. The airlines had to make special arrangements for her to take the plane.
Her medical bill alone for that short period was about US$300,000, including imaging services. She still has other bills pending.
Her insurer paid out its maximum liability of S$250,000 for medical expenses. The person was clearly under-insured. She will now have to pay the remaining bill out of her own pocket.
Due to her continuing treatment, she is also unable to afford legal advice in US, which may help in reducing her medical bill.
I asked a company's chief executive, who has lived in the US for some time, if such bills are a norm. He confirmed it was, especially for foreigners since their medical care is not subsidised.
He offered the following advice, "If you are travelling to a developled country like the US or United Kingdom, be sure to top-up your insurance cover. Otherwise, you are likely to find yourself inadequately protected in a medical emergency."
For example, in such a situation, one can opt for NTUC Income's Deluxe Plan, which would cover up to $500,000 of one's medical expenses.
Interestingly, there is no limit on medical expenses under the travel cover of American Home Assurance Company for persons insured, who are below 70 years old!