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How to Choose a Critical Illness Plan for Elderly Parents

We all want our parents to live to an old age, and the advances in medical technology are making that possible. However, living longer do not always mean good health. In fact, the Ministry of Health found that Singaporeans live a greater proportion of their lives in ill health, despite being among the world’s longest-living people1.

With every year that passes, our parents are at greater risk for progressive age-related illnesses. In case this happens, a critical illness (CI) plan can preserve their quality of life while they seek treatment and recover. Find out the difference between a Critical Illness plan and hospitalisation/health plan here

Choosing a CI plan for seniors requires a different thought process. You need to take your parents’ current health into account, as well as your family’s health history. Here are 5 things to look out for when choosing a critical illness plan for elderly parents:

 

1. What is the maximum age of entry?

Always remember to check the maximum age of entry which is the latest age your parents can be, to be eligible for a CI plan. Generally, the older they are, the higher the premiums, so it would be advisable to apply a plan for them as early as possible.

 

2. Do your parents have pre-existing medical conditions?

Are your parents in good health? Take advantage of it by getting CI insurance now while they are still healthy.

Most Singaporeans over the age of 60, however, are living with three or more chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis2. Chronic health conditions require lifelong medication and for some conditions like diabetes, it can lead to possible long-term effects such as heart attack and stroke3.  With inflation, the cost of managing these conditions will only continue to rise, making insurance coverage more necessary.

The good news is, for those of higher ages or with existing medical conditions, there are critical illness plans which they can consider. For example, Manulife’s Critical SelectCare is applicable for those after 40 years old and even those with existing health conditions4 - such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol or diabetes.

 

Critical SelectCare

Crafted to protect you against selected major critical illnesses and age-related conditions. 

 

3. What are your parents’ lifestyles?

Do your parents have an active lifestyle? Are they smokers? Do they eat healthy, balanced meals? The kind of lifestyle your parents have is key to deciding between a single-pay or a multi-pay plan.

A single-pay CI plan is exactly what it says. When you get diagnosed for a covered critical illness, you get one lump sum payment. You can use the lump sum however you wish, ideally to cover medical expenses and make up for income lost while recovering from the illness. After the lump sum payout, the plan terminates and will not cover you for any critical illnesses moving forward.

Multi-pay CI plans offer several lump-sum payouts for different critical illnesses. The payout amount varies depending on the critical illness, and there may be a waiting period between illnesses before you can make another claim.

Some plans even provide a partial refund of the total premiums paid if they do not make a claim by the plan’s benefit end date.

For more extensive coverage, look for a plan that offers continued protection for relapsed critical illness and additional claims for different critical illnesses.

For example, Manulife Ready CompleteCare has an exclusive ‘cover me again’ feature, which restarts5 your coverage over and over again and also provides cover for subsequent advanced stage major cancer conditions6, even after you’ve made a claim. 

 

Ready CompleteCare

Arm yourself with a Critical Illness plan to cover you again and again

 

4. Should you get a plan with early stage or late stage coverage?

Not all critical illnesses can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. Find out if you have family members who suffered from hereditary age-related conditions like colorectal cancer, dementia, or Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are progressive, meaning they happen in stages and get worse over time.

In general, basic CI insurance provides a lump sum payout when the illness is at the intermediate or advanced stages. For example, if your mother gets diagnosed with severe dementia while on a basic CI plan, she will receive the payout, as this meets the condition of the plan. However, the basic CI plan will not give a payout if she gets diagnosed with early-stage dementia.

That is where early critical illness cover comes in. It plugs in the gap when you are diagnosed withthe disease at an early stage, but not the one that is covered by the basic policy. Although the chances of recovery are higher when diagnosed in the early stages, treatments generally cost more. Having a payout for an early-stage diagnosis helps you tide over the recovery period without making a dent on your savings.

Knowing about your family’s health history will help you decide if your parents need an early stage CI plan or not. Learn more about early-stage critical illness plan and if you need it here

 

5. Which critical illness plans are more affordable?

The last thing your parents want is for you to struggle to pay the bills because you are paying their CI premiums. It is important to choose a plan that covers  their needs while making minimal impact on your cash flow.

In general, single-payout CI plans and late-stage CI plans are the most affordable. These straightforward plans provide a good financial safety net if your parents have a low chance of getting multiple critical illnesses.

Higher coverage will mean higher premiums. You can expect to pay more for CI plans with early stage coverage, as there are more treatments involved at the disease’s initial stages. A multi-pay plan will also have higher premiums because it provides coverage for two or more critical illnesses.

   

Protection against the financial burden of critical illness.

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    Footnotes:

    1. https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singaporeans-living-longer-spending-greater-proportion-time-ill-health-study
    2. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/proportion-of-older-adults-with-multiple-chronic-diseases-surges
    3. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetes-long-term-effects
    4. You must be between 40 to 70 years old and pass the underwriting questions to qualify.
    5. Coverage will be restarted to 100% of basic sum insured after 12 claim-free months from the last critical illness claim. Subject to maximum payout of 500% of basic sum insured.
    6. Additional 100% of basic sum insured is payable upon diagnosis of subsequent advanced stage major cancer, capped at 200% of basic sum insured, subject to terms and conditions.

     

    Important Notes

    The products are underwritten by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Reg. No. 19802116D). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Buying health insurance products that are unsuitable for you may affect your ability to finance your future healthcare needs. This material is for your information only and does not consider your specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not a contract of insurance and is not intended as an offer or recommendation to purchase the plan. You can find the full terms and conditions, details, and exclusions for the mentioned insurance product(s) in the policy contract. If there are any differences between the English and Chinese versions of this material, the English version will apply. This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the LIA or SDIC websites (www.lia.org.sg or www.sdic.org.sg).

     

    We recommend that you seek advice from a Manulife Financial Consultant or our Appointed Distributors before making a commitment to purchase a policy.

     

    Information is correct as at 5 July 2022.