He was the first person in his family to go to university. His father spent his life savings to get him the best education money can buy. With his education, he was able to use his knowledge and connections to getting into business.
Business was booming. He got lucky and even managed to strike the lottery! He invested in many properties as well as a big house to live in. He married a beauty pageant contestant. He was blessed with three angelic kids. He got into some local associations, even dabbled in politics. People respected him. Life was pretty good.
Then trouble started. His business started failing. He had to sell off his properties to repay his creditors. His wife cheated on him with another man and decided to leave, taking along a substantial part of his wealth. Luckily his children chose to stay with him. He was down on his luck.
A Turn for the Worse
During this time, his health began to deteriorate. He had a persistent cough that wouldn’t go away. He suffered from profuse sweating and on and off fever at nights. Just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. A particularly aggressive one.
He had no possessions left. Luckily, he bought health insurance earlier on. That was all that saved him from certain despair and worse – an untimely death. He was able to get good healthcare from a local private hospital, with timely and advanced treatment protocols. Luckily his children have all started working as young adults by now so he had one less worry to take care of.
I wish I could say this is a fictional story, created out of boredom. Unfortunately, it’s only too real. He is someone dear to me. As I write this, he is currently recuperating from his latest round of chemotherapy. He’s still due for a few more rounds of chemoradiotherapy.
I’m sure these kinds of stories are not rare. The only saving grace in this tale was the protection afforded by his insurance plan. It could’ve been a tragic story otherwise.
Sometimes we lament and wonder why bad things happen to people around us. The cruel fact is, we can never anticipate when the next tragedy will befall us. We won’t know if one moment we’re healthy, and the next we’re suddenly diagnosed with an incurable illness. We’ll never know when we will breathe our last.
Mitigating the Risk of Life
Life is unpredictable. We can only prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. This includes managing one’s finances and how our health relates to that aspect. Health insurance has become an increasingly important part of a person’s financial planning.
As of 2019, medical insurance penetration in Malaysia is only slightly above 50%. Coupled with the rising cost of medical insurance premiums, it’s not really surprising that many are only able to rely on government hospitals.
However, gone are the days when we could rely on the Malaysian government for almost-free healthcare. Now there’s almost always a waiting list for everything, and you might not be able to get the treatment you need at the time you need it the most.
Imagine what would’ve happened to the protagonist if he didn’t have health insurance. Yes, he could seek treatment at the local government hospital. But would he be able to get the treatment he needs quickly? For such an aggressive form of cancer, time is everything, and every second is precious.
Health insurance bought him the gift of time to spend with his children and loved ones. Only God knows when he will leave us to go to a better place. What’s certain in life is that death comes for everyone, and we can only prepare for it to the best of our abilities.
No health, no wealth. You can have all the wealth in the world or strike the biggest jackpot available, but once your health is gone, so are you. When that happens, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
This article was written for and and first published on Smart Investor, Malaysia’s leading investment magazine