Lucky – that’s the word Simone Khoo uses a lot when she talks about how having adequate insurance coverage helped lessen the burden she faced when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2012.
Firstly, the 52-year-old former teacher believes she was lucky to have met her life planner, Keith Ng. “If he didn’t try to get insurance for me, I wouldn’t have gotten covered and that would have caused a massive hole in my savings,” she says.
Simone’s numerous medical issues before her cancer diagnosis, such as endometriosis and a slipped disc, had made it difficult for her to get insurance. “You won’t believe how many insurance agents cold called me and once I explained my medical situation, never called me back,” she says.
Keith, a friend of Simone’s former colleague, was different. “He advised me to get some insurance cover. Even if there were exclusions, I should get covered for other conditions.” Once she had been cleared of her past medical issues, he helped her write in to the insurer to get those conditions waived as well.
Because of Keith’s conscientiousness, the cost of Simone’s cancer treatment, which came to about $200,000, was covered by Great Eastern. On top of that, she also received a payout of over $300,000. The money made it possible for her husband, Gerald Tan, to quit his job to look after her.
When she got better, the couple decided that they didn’t want to go back to having fulltime jobs. That led to Gerald starting an advertising company, Adage Communications, where Simone now works part-time helping him with the administrative part of the business. She also performs regularly with homegrown a cappella group, Vocaluptuous.
After going through such a life-changing experience, Simone says she doesn’t believe in grand retirement plans for later in life. “I guess I’m partly already living the dream,” she says. “I spend time with my husband, my family and my dogs. Whatever I want to do, I want to do it now. I want to enjoy my life now. I want to be happy now.”
Simone also considers herself extremely lucky that Great Eastern is still paying for her medical expenses. Her current treatment regimen includes a daily Tamoxifen pill, a Zometa infusion drip and a blood test every three months, and an annual comprehensive checkup with ultrasounds, bone density scans, a mammogram, blood tests and X-rays. “Having everything covered takes a real burden off me,” she says.
“Quite honestly, if I had to pay from my own pocket, I might have skimped on treatment,” she adds. “So it was lucky that I got Keith, who was there for me and who continues to be there. He has also helped me put together several savings plans for my future.”
What’s Simone’s advice for the inadequately insured? “Find an agent you can trust and who will be there for you. Get the person to take a look at what your total needs are. And if you have money to spare, think about saving for your future and the lifestyle you want in your retirement years.”
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