27Jan

Information on Scoliosis in Kids: Treatment Options in Hong Kong

WHAT IS SCOLIOSIS?

Scoliosis is a lateral (toward the side) curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and a degree of swayback (inward curvature) in the lower back. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be straight. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be curved.

CAUSES

The causes for 80 to 85% of all scoliosis cases are usually unknown. Boys and girls are equally affected by small curves, but girls are eight times more likely to develop progressive curves. According to recent research, about one in three children whose parents have scoliosis will develop scoliosis. Scoliosis is considered a partially genetic condition; however, exactly which genes cause scoliosis is inconclusive.

MYTHS

Parents should understand that the following factors are not associated with the condition:

  • Carrying school bags
  • Bad posture
  • Unequal leg length
  • Back injury
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Sports activities

TREATMENT

There are 4 big hospitals that specialize in both children and adult scoliosis treatment. Check your insurance provider if these are part of their partner institutions.

For moderate curves in growing children, brace treatment is recommended. Braces will not completely eliminate scoliosis. However, a well-fitted and diligently worn corrective brace can significantly slow or prevent curve progression.

For the very small number of children with severe curves, internal fixation is applied to the spine to correct the curve within the limits of safety. Nowadays, surgery for scoliosis has been made very safe by major advances in surgical techniques.

Get a family insurance policy that covers treatment and therapy for scoliosis. We help expats find the best health covers that include medical insurance for children. Get in touch with us today.

19Jan

Updated Guide to Hong Kong Healthcare

Hong Kong remains as one of the best providers of public healthcare in the world. However, as expats, it is always advisable to prepare one’s self with the proper insurance cover to for any unforeseen circumstances such as the need for repatriation or emergency surgery.

Hong Kong’s public sector has 42 public hospitals, 47 specialist out-patient clinics, and 73 general out-patient clinics, all organised into seven clusters according to their locations.

Here is an updated information on the country’s healthcare system as of 2018.

PUBLIC HEALTHCARE

Hong Kong provides residents with excellent and highly affordable health services. The life expectancy in the country is currently the world’s third highest and infant mortality is the ninth lowest. Here is the list of public health institutions.

DOCTORS

Finding your preferred doctor is easy; simply log on to the government’s Primary Care Directory and select your specialist. Antenatal and postnatal care, well women services and childhood vaccinations take place at 34 dedicated Maternal and Child Health Centres across the SAR.

When attending an appointment, you’ll be asked to register with your Hong Kong ID and pay a small fee, usually by cash or Octopus card.

There are also a good number of private healthcare practitioners in Hong Kong, and access to their services will depend in no small part on your individual insurance coverage. Some insurers provide a pre-approved list of doctors, whereas others will allow patients free choice of doctor according to their policy’s financial limit. Opting to visit a private doctor will usually mean that you can choose your specialist according to your own needs and schedule, with shorter waiting times than in the public system.

Make sure to ask your insurance provider and confirm your cover details as well as payment methods.

HOSPITALS

In an emergency, you’ll be transported by ambulance to the nearest public hospital for treatment. With 17 public hospitals across Hong Kong providing Accident and Emergency services, and air ambulance services available to assist with evacuation from Hong Kong’s less accessible regions, you’re never too far away from help. Hong Kong’s A&E care operates on a triage basis, and is charged at a flat rate of $100 per visit. Once assessed by a doctor, if you’re subsequently admitted to hospital, you’ll be charged a $50 admission fee, then $100 per day, payable by cash or Octopus card.

There are currently 11 private hospitals that are internationally accredited in Hong Kong. Most provide 24-hour outpatient services for urgent cases and can arrange transfer to a public hospital for accident and emergency services if deemed necessary. Many of Hong Kong’s private hospitals are renowned for their specialist areas of expertise, including obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics and ophthalmology, to name a few.

As with private doctors, you should always confirm the hospital’s billing process with your insurer, and check that any extras, such as medicines, private accommodation or out-of-hours surgery are covered.

To get the best insurance for personal or family cover, get in touch with us. We specialise in insurance for expats in Hong Kong.

5Dec

Prostate Cancer Information in Hong Kong

Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers affecting men. In Hong Kong, it’s the fifth most common cancer with over 1,600 new cases every year and is the 3rd most common type of cancer among men in Hong Kong.

2-11

The prostate is a gland that’s only found in men. It’s usually the size of a walnut, and is located below the bladder, surrounding the first part of the urethra, which allows urine to pass from the bladder to the penis. The prostate produces semen, a thick white fluid that mixes with the sperm produced by the testes. It also produces a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA), which turns the semen into liquid. Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing cancer, typically occurring in men over the age of 50. Research shows that over a third of men over 50 have some cancer cells in the prostate, while almost all men over 80 have some cells. The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but generally the chance is increased if there is a positive family history; it is also more common in Western men.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • reduced flow of urine
  • increased frequency in urination
  • uncomforatble urination
  • persistent pain in lower back, hips and thighs
  • in some cases, bloody urine.

EXAMINATION

The diagnosis of prostate cancer may include a digital rectal examination (DRE) by a doctor. Digital here is different to the “digital” in electronic equipment. Apart from DRE, PSA can be tested in blood to detect the presence of prostate cancer. However, PSA alone is not very accurate in diagnosing cancer.

It is important to have one’s self examined once you hit 40. Village Insurance’s best practice for recommending covers for males is to find insurance that also covers diseases such as prostate cancer. Insurance can cover treatment and maintenance for cancer.

We can help find the best global insurance for expats in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us for any inquiries. We’re always quick to revert.

 

14Jun

Infographic: Global Cyber Attack Statistics

The threat to cyber security has increased over the past 10 years. Businesses have paid large sums to recover files and systems which all could have been avoided if we only treat cyberattacks as a big possibility. Here are the numbers on cyber attacks on global businesses.

Ask us how we can help your business with the proper insurance cover.

14Feb

Top 7 Excuses We Tell Ourselves Before Getting Insurance

Most people naturally don’t like being told what to do let alone being told what to do with their money. Being asked to buy insurance is not one of the many pleasant moments we tend to romanticize except for the fact that we might feel like legitimate adults once we get one.

In the never ending struggle against real life needs, we then submit to the certainty of uncertainties and do our best to prepare ourselves and our families with circumstances we can’t control like accidents, losing jobs and death.

This doesn’t mean we have to submit so easily. Here is a list of excuses we may all be guilty of telling ourselves or our insurance brokers:

1.    I exercise a lot so I don’t need health insurance.

The irony is that there will be one person you know who lives the healthiest lifestyle but still got cancer. Yes, a healthy lifestyle may reduce your chances of getting seriously ill but factors such as family illnesses does not exclude anyone from these conditions.
Also, the song “Forever Young” does not apply.

2.    I don’t do extreme sports anyway.

You’re merrily walking to the grocery store when a car loses control of the brakes and hits you. As morbid as that may be, that is a possibility. You don’t need to be a pro snowboarder to know you can get seriously hurt at any moment.

Attention: accident prone friends

3.    I’ll buy one next year when I have more money. Promise.

The longer you wait, the more expensive premiums get. Health insurance can easily increase its price up to 8% within a year so having more money the next year would be irrelevant given a rise in costs. While you’re young and while you have the budget to spare for any form of insurance, do it! Plus, there are a lot of affordable and flexible insurance policies in the market today.

As procrastination may be fun now, you won’t be laughing when you find out you could have saved $100 a month had you not made this poor excuse.

4.    I’ve earned enough for my heirs in case I die, so there.

True, you might already have put aside a fairly large amount for your wife, kids or relatives but did you know there are taxes they have to pay before getting the money you’ve left? Insurance often takes care of that. This is especially important for large sums that come with high tax rates.

5.    I already get insurance cover from work.

Insurance cover from work may look like a sure thing and it could be only for a few months to a year. Big companies, to no surprise, don’t like spending a lot of money on insurance for employees so chances are they will only take out insurance with minimum cover. The best scenario is that you get employee compensation insurance worth only twice or thrice your salary and that can only go so far.

6. I have other assets. They can always liquidate that.

Selling assets to have money is nothing new. Here’s the “but”…

Liquidating high-value assets like a business or property takes a long time to close. If that is the only thing your family is left with, they still need to get by while they wait. Second thing you need to also keep in mind is that assets being sold hurriedly easily becomes devalued.

As much as it feels good to have assets and it is a very commendable life achievement, you still need to provide some buffer for your family while they wait. Insurance will take care of that.

7.    I don’t trust insurance companies.

There is a reason why insurance companies are still here and that is they do help you.

Village Insurance is not a provider but we are in the business of helping people find and deal with insurance; and after decades of assisting clients with choosing and claiming, we’ve observed that their trust towards insurers becomes stronger the moment something bad happens.

Think about it this way, good experiences with insurance are rarely aggressively seen on the Internet. Talking about a good insurance experience that comes along with a loved one’s death is not exactly a pleasant topic to write a review about.

You can always ask friends who have gone through these scenarios and make good decisions.

4Feb

Do You Really Need Health Insurance?

“Accidents happen.” This has to be one of the most common insurance tagline used by providers. Village Insurance Direct breaks down the facts to answer the question, “Do I really need health insurance?”

A Quick Comparison

Hong Kong is recognized as having among the highest private medical costs in the world after the US. Comparatively, an ear infection, a broken bone from a fall could see you spending up almost US$9000 in Thailand, but in Hong Kong will cost more than US$15,000.

Because you need to protect your assets…

Whether it’s your life savings or what’s in your bank account. Because if you don’t have insurance when you do fall ill or have an accident, the main priority is to protect your assets. In places like Hong Kong you can see your assets dwindled from a case of bronchitis.

Knowing that if something were to happen you’ve got someone to take care of not just the bills but the whole process. For example, if you’re dealing with a sensitive issue like a family member falling ill, and dealing with the stress and emotions of coping with that, the last thing you want is to be on the phone with finance departments. Working with an insurance company eliminates all of that stress because the claims team takes over those responsibilities. So you can focus on either getting well yourself or taking care of your loved one when they’re sick.

When all else fails, there’s repatriation.

When there is a need to fly you out for treatment, having health insurance will ensure that you get the help you need as soon as possible. Emergency evacuation can be that thin line that saves your life or a family member’s. When you are not in your home country, having the right kind of insurance to cover you is the best investment you’ll thank yourself for having.

22Apr

Business Insurance 101

Business owners are responsible for two families: their own and their employees’. A comprehensive insurance policy is needed regardless of the size and nature of your business especially in Hong Kong where there are part of the legal requirements to run a business. Should anything bad happen to you, a proper insurance policy can help protect your family and your business.

To get a sense of your preparedness in this aspect of running your company, ask yourself these questions:

  • What will happen to my business and family if I die or become physically unable to run the company?
  • What will happen if certain key employees die or become permanently disabled?
  • How can I attract and retain the good employees?
  • How can I help ensure that my business is equipped to stand unforeseen financial challenges?
  • What will happen to my business when I retire?

Death, disability of a proprietor and loss of a key man are three of the top threats to your business and you need to consider how to protect the business you’ve worked hard for against these events.

Death and Individual Life Insurance

This is the worst possible scenario. What will happen to your business if you die? Many business owners take out loans to help grow their businesses and often secure these loans with personal assets. If you have business loans and were to die before they were paid off you might think your family could sell or liquidate the business to cover the debts and provide financial security for them.

This, however, is an unlikely event. When the family is forced to suddenly sell the business they may have to sell at a discount or during market conditions that make the business less attractive. In other cases, the value of the business is lowered because of the loss of the proprietor. Individual Life Insurance can protect your family by covering the debts, rolling living expenses and future plans in the event that something happens to you.

We discuss financial protection with Life Insurance in one of our past blogs. Read: Financial Protection for Your Family After You’re Gone

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance replaces a set portion of your income if you were to become sick or injured and unable to work. It’s an important type of insurance coverage that is often overlooked. In addition, business owners should consider Business Overhead Insurance, which pays for overhead expenses in the event a business owner becomes completely disabled. A policy typically pays benefits for one to two years and helps cover expenses like salaries, taxes, employee benefits, rent, mortgage, utilities, equipment, malpractice premiums, etc. That could mean the difference between a business surviving or permanently closing.

What about your employees’ benefits?

Part of the decision making process for potential hires is a good benefits program. More importantly, this program is also crucial to retaining good, competent workers.

Benefits such as health and disability insurance and retirement plans are very desirable to employees, but they can also be costly for business owners. Sharing of these costs between employer and employee is a common practice that’s beneficial for both parties. There are also voluntary benefit programs that allow employees to purchase or increase their benefits, often through automatic payroll deduction.

Village Insurance can help you select the right mix of benefits and present business owners with various package options.

Key Man Insurance

Key Man Insurance is another essential component of a smart business maintenance plan. When a key person dies or becomes disabled, insurance can help cover potential lost sales or earnings or cover the cost of finding or training a replacement.

Buy and Sell Agreements

These agreements are generally covered by Life Insurance policies purchased on the lives of each of the business owners. The amount is usually specified in a contract created with the help of a lawyer. You can enter into a buy-sell agreement at any time, but it often makes sense to do so when a business is formed or when new owners are brought into the business. Because business values can fluctuate, it’s important to review the contract with your accountant at least once per year or to include a calculation method in the agreement.

Company owners can also insure against the risk of becoming disabled and unable to work. In this case, disability income buyout insurance would fund the buy-sell agreement, allowing the disabled owners to be bought out, typically after a one-year waiting period.