13Sep

Is C-section the way to go?

In this day and age, Hong Kong stands strong in offering a lot more than tourist attractions and sparkling history. On par with many first-class countries, it prides itself with an excellent healthcare system. For both its residents and expats alike, it has become the place of choice for maternity and childbirth, owing to the structure in its services.

The Hong Kong health system, like many others, is categorized into two: the public and private sectors.

Being a Hong Kong resident with an “identity card” provides you with numerous benefits, including full utilization of their public health system.

Some say that it gets trickier and more complicated when it comes to foreigners, but there’s always no reason to feel lost and left out. Local or not, there’s nothing a good preparation can’t solve.

Adjusting to a childbirth in a foreign country is the first step. As mothers near their delivery, the next logical step is to figure out whether a C-section or classic delivery setup is the way to go.

Crunching the hard digits

In general, the World Health Organization suggests a 10-15% rate in C-section deliveries vis-à-vis a country’s healthcare status.  Since last year, numbers of C-section deliveries have been steadily increasing around the world. Currently, the Dominican Republic holds the top spot with 56.4%. According to this October 2018 research, Hong Kong currently has a Caesarian birth rate of 35%. It stands toe-to-toe with other countries like Turkey and Brazil, who each report rates of over 45%.

The good versus the bad

It is the expectant mother’s choice as to how she wants to have her baby delivered. However, in some cases, it is the doctor’s call whether to perform the surgery or not, particularly when the necessity arises in the situation.

C section deliveries are beneficial for mothers who are unable to bear the stress of the labor process. It is also recommended if more than one baby will be delivered. The procedure helps minimize the risk of having the baby contract a disease from passing through the vaginal area.

However, it also offers a balanced number of downsides. Mothers who opted for the surgical process tend to stay longer in the hospital for recuperation. There is an increased risk of pain or infection following the surgery and soreness is almost guaranteed. Staggering levels of blood loss may also provide low levels of Hemoglobin.

The rates

As an invasive procedure, C-section deliveries generally cost way more than vaginal births. Rates within Hong Kong vary with different hospitals, ranging from standard HK$ 17,000 to pricey lengths such as HK$ 141, 000 for high-tier private hospitals. As of June 2018, for example, the fee for a C-section surgery in St. Paul’s Hospital in Causeway Bay starts at HK$ 18,000 versus their fee for a vaginal birth which starts at HK$ 15, 000.

Ultimately, the choice rests upon the mother’s shoulders. There may be slight differences between private or public hospital settings but one thing remains the same: This is Hong Kong, and both options carry a high standard when it comes to medical care.

Village Insurance Direct provides expats in Hong Kong with health insurance that covers maternity expenses. Contact us for more information.

8Sep

Infographic: What is Study Companion Insurance?

It can be stressful and worrisome for parents to send their children abroad to study. Health emergencies, lost property, and tuition are some of the most common concerns from parents.

Fortunately, there is a specific insurance dedicated to cover these emergencies for students studying abroad. Eligibility includes:

  • Hong Kong residents
  • Full-time student aged 35 years old
    or below
  • Having proof of admission issued by a recognised institution of learning outside Hong Kong

The infographic below shows key information about Study Companion Insurance.

 

 

 

14Jul

How cancer burns through everything including your savings

Cancer takes more than lives. It also goes after a hefty amount of your savings.

In just a span of two years, half of all US cancer patients breeze through their funds, accentuating a total of $92,000 in twelve months.

This is all detailed in a new study called “Death or Debt? National Estimates of Financial Toxicity in Persons with Newly-Diagnosed Cancer” which was published this month. According to its findings, these heavy costs are mostly of risk to be shouldered by the elderly and those without insurance, among others.

Killer expenses

In the US, cancer comes second to heart disease as the undisputed title-holder of the most notorious killer.

But unlike heart disease which has a pool of research and funds dedicated to it, the cost of cancer treatment, for any country is financially unfathomable. Annually, 1.6 million new Americans are diagnosed with cancer. From this, 600,000 barely finish treatment and die.

The healthcare system credits to spending $87.8 billion yearly for patients. Specifically, unfinished treatments resulting in death leads to a $130 billion cost.

A huge portion of treatment expenditure still falls on the patient. The American Cancer Society along with the Cancer Action Network reports that as of four years ago, findings revealed that patients still shouldered a total of $4 billion on their end just for seeking cancer treatment.

Crunching beyond the numbers

The core of the study took 9.5 million patients and 16 years to see completion (1998-2014).

Setting aside the statistics, the medical study delineates the kinks that needed to be worked out when it comes to medical budget and productivity.

The journal is an updated study from the same set of authors from five years ago and is published in the American Journal of Medicine. Initially, in the study’s first findings, it revealed that cancer, specifically, breast cancer, accounts for 33 million sick days among the US working citizens annually.

The update to the study echoes a more heartbreaking revelation: half of the cancer-afflicted patients within their study have started and been easily sunk into bankruptcy due to treatment expenses.

This brings a new reality to the table: that the economy pulls a really tensioned string even to cancer patients who struggle with the cost of treatment.

When toxicity seeps to your finances

A big danger lies in the fact that the risk for financial toxicity goes greater with cancer treatment. After years of fluctuation in the economy, one would think that the financial burden on the patients would’ve lessened but has so far remained consistent.

Grant Skrepnek, one of the paper’s writers believes the results were “shocking,” seeing as to how figures have reached higher levels, which he has seen in his 20 years in cancer research.

Despite the advent of immunotherapy, which is pegged as a vital tool for the possible elimination of cancer, Skrepnek believes that it also has downsides, such as its ability to hamper predictions for cancer trends.

Jennifer Singleterry believes otherwise and sees a bigger threat in short-term healthcare plans.

Singleterry, a senior policy analyst from the American Cancer Society is concerned with the coverage of these health care plans, which have a limited coverage and “caps” – which hurts finances as it doesn’t include cancer treatment.

She adds that dependency to these short-term plans will only be harmful to those afflicted will illness, who will be left with even higher insurance premiums.

What this ultimately reveals is another layer of fear added to cancer: first the diagnosis, and now the financial horrors.

Village Insurance Direct helps expats in Hong Kong find critical illness insurance. Contact us for inquiries.

 

5Jul

Complications in Childbirth: Why you need maternity insurance

The most awaited moment in pregnancy is, of course, the birth. After nine, gruelling months of nonstop, odd cravings, bloating, back pain, and weight gain, we are finally going to see the little bundle of joy that will make it all worth it.

However, birth is just as dangerous as the first three months of pregnancy, if not, riskier. The lives of two people or more (in cases of multiples) are on the line.  Which is why being well-informed and readily prepared is imperative to assure a safe transition from womb to the outside world for the baby, and lessen postpartum complications for the mother.

With that said, here are some of the most common causes of mortality or morbidity for mother and child that you can inquire to your physician during your next visit.

Complications of the baby

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of global neonatal deaths are from preterm birth complications, newborn infections, and perinatal asphyxia.

“Preemies”—premature babies—are born before the 37th week of gestation and are therefore not yet fully equipped ready for the outside world.  One of the most monitored organs in preemies are the lungs. Premature lungs can lead to Respiratory Distress Syndrome which causes harsh and difficulty in breathing.  It can also lead to apnea, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and infections such as pneumonia. The most common treatment is the use of a ventilator with careful monitoring, and, in cases of infections, antibiotics.

Aside from pneumonia, newborn infections can lead to meningitis and conjunctivitis. Cases, where minor infections are not treated immediately, can also lead to neonatal sepsis.

Perinatal asphyxia is the lack of blood flow or gas exchange to or from the fetus in the period immediately before, during, or after the birth process, which can result in systemic and neurologic consequences.  It can be due to compromised maternal hemodynamics, uterine conditions, placenta and umbilical cord, and infection. Due to lack of access, developing countries have 10 times higher incidences of perinatal asphyxiation as opposed to developed countries.

Complications of the mother

There is one grim saying that I often hear whenever I talk with doctors: “When a mother gives birth, one foot is in the grave.”

As of 2018, approximately 830 women die of childbirth every day, 99% of which are from developing countries. They are usually due to pregnancy and most are preventable or treatable.

Severe bleeding after childbirth, infections after childbirth, and high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia) are some of the major complications that account for most of all maternal deaths.

Postpartum bleeding—severe bleeding after birth postpartum bleeding—accounts for at least 27% of maternal deaths and is usually caused by the inability of the uterus to contract such as in cases of uterine atony.

Mothers are more prone to infections in cases of cesarean sections and prolonged labour since more is exposed in a longer amount of time. Moreover, it can occur if even just one of the medical staff does not practice proper antiseptic techniques and if their tools are not properly sterilized.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that can occur during pregnancy which involves elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine. If not managed, it can lead to eclampsia which manifests as seizures. The exact cause of the condition is not yet known.

The birth of a child is a miracle unlike any other. For a mother and her newborn to hold each other after nine months of being “so close, yet so far” is a sensation unlike any other. Losing a child before its life even begins is one of the biggest heartbreaks one can imagine, and losing a mother before knowing her is just as painful.

All of the conditions presented above can be prevented by proper medical care by proficient and supervised medical personnel, proper medical equipment and supplies, and a well-thought-of birth plan. So, read, ask, and plan ahead. The mixture of a mother’s laugh and a baby’s coos is worth it in the end. Most importantly, be prepared.

Find a health insurance cover that will take care of the bills in case the worst happens.

 

SOURCES:

22Jun

Yes! You need Travel Insurance

Sometimes, people forget the most important thing before a trip. Passports and paperwork are already a given. But before one plans the perfect outfit or maps out the perfect itinerary, it’s important to pay attention to a necessity that’s often taken for granted: Travel insurance.

There are varying types of travel insurance cover. There are two general types:

  • Vacation Cover – This type of plan provides the most coverage in a single package, including flight cancellations, medical emergencies, evacuations, loss of luggage or delays and more.

Over 94% of travel insurance sales are Vacation Cover.

  • Medical Travel Cover – Travel Medical Insurance plans provide cover that is not included in your regular health insurance. If cancellation is not a priority issue, this plan is ideal for you.

Your itinerary will determine what travel insurance you’ll need. Choose a plan that covers the essentials. If you foresee sudden changes in your travel plans, you’ll be thankful you’ve subscribed to a plan that saves you money and the stress of having to spend more on airline tickets or transfer flights.

Travel insurance is especially important when you plan to visit countries with highly contagious diseases. Your embassy will often advise you to take necessary precaution with the right vaccination but you can never be too careful even if you’ve had your shots.

Some Visa applications even require a confirmed travel insurance plan with a specified amount of coverage. Otherwise, it’s grounds for getting your Visa denied. European countries and some Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea require travel insurance especially if your itinerary involves extreme activities such as skiing, trekking, or diving.

Runway issues that cause massive flight delays are also a nightmare to deal scenarios but the right plan can relieve some of the stress during these unfortunate cases. Imagine having to spend thousands of dollars and you haven’t even arrived at your destination. You can avoid that if you’ve pre-empted the situation.

There are plenty of reasonably priced covers. All you have to do is ask. We help expats living in Hong Kong find the best travel cover for any trip.

Make sure you’re covered with the proper travel insurance. Need help? Contact us today.

20Jun

Tips for Staying Fit While Pregnant

Exercise during pregnancy is different for every expectant mother. The most important tip to remember is to get clearance from your doctor before engaging with any type of fitness plan.

Women who regularly exercise and have been physically active prior to conceiving will more or less have zero issues with working in a fitness routine in their day. Walking is considered a safe and simple way to get one’s heart rate up.

CALORIE INTAKE

Although you are eating for more than one person, doctors advise that it is important to keep track of your pre-pregnancy weight to determine your required calorie intake to maintain your body’s and baby’s need for proper nutrition.

If your body mass index (BMI) is in a healthy range (between 18.5 and 24.9), you’ll need to eat about 340 more calories a day in the second trimester than before you were pregnant and about 450 more calories a day in the third trimester

PROPER WARDROBE

Stay comfortable by choosing looser fitting clothes that breath and regulates body temperature. Pregnant women tend to have higher body temperature and may overheat during a workout. In addition, make sure your maternity bra is supportive enough, and choose athletic shoes that fit properly. With your feet a little swollen than normal, choose footwear that is 1 to 2 sizes bigger.

EXERCISE AND STRETCHING HELPS WITH BACK & HIP PAIN

Common problems during pregnancy are increased lower back pain, pelvic instability, urinary issues, or reduced functional strength of the abdominal wall. Exercising during pregnancy helps reduce muscle tension. Prenatal pilates and yoga are popular fitness routines women can safely do to help with the usual discomforts of the condition.

STAYING SAFE WITH PROPER MATERNITY INSURANCE 

Maternity insurance covers costs for pre-natal and post-natal treatments. It also covers cost for natural or caesarean delivery where the latter can get very expensive without private insurance. Maternity insurance with extension also helps with costs incurred for fertility treatments and congenital birth defects.

Village Insurance provides help for expats in Hong Kong in finding the best maternity insurance for all of your needs. Get in touch with our agents for more information.

 

2Jun

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.

7May

Cost of Investing: Tips and Must-Know Info

Investment, in the most basic sense, is all about sacrificing something now for the greater good of the future. The payoff depends on many factors and does not solely rely on how much you invest. However, like all cases, there will always be underlying costs and trades that you should be aware of before jumping right into it.

Vigilance is important. You need to learn to foresee possible changes and learn to handle intangible costs. All of these will have a huge impact on how your seeds will be cultivated, and how your money will grow. Investment is volatile. The more you throw yourself into it and always “touch” it, the more you will be bound to lose it. The last thing you want to do is losing much more than earning. Expenses can be dangerous, even more so when they are misunderstood and aren’t given enough preparation

Here are life-saving tips for everyone who ever braves the waves of investment.

The first blood

They say every move you make these days costs a lot. It gets so severe that spending is forever, and is inevitable as much as breathing. You begin investing with the idea of saving money. A lot of funds can help you out with that. But which is the best? Without any idea, you jump into your favourite bank but suddenly they come clean and tell you that you have an initial fee, which can sometimes be bloated to 5 per cent. It is important to land with the best choice and settle with an adviser who can offer entry funds without costs.

Severing Ties

Basically, any corporation holds policies on exit fees to compensate for the loss of your account being terminated. It’s a little harder to find providers who offer expense-free exit fees, but always be aware of this and ask about the details right away.

The bitter truth

There’s no skirting around the edges on this one. There will always be expenses when it comes to investing. The most positive outcome around it would be to MINIMISE expenses so not a lot would be lost. Investments should be kept simple and transparent. Period.

The magic word

“Reduction in yield” is the key. Never forget. Chances are, if you’re planning to purchase an insurance-linked investment product, there will be a lot of loopholes that they will try to get over your head. Basically, reduction in yield shows the overall effect of changes to a policy. You will be able to predict how the percentages will hit your investment. Some establishments don’t open this freely and will only be revealed if you asked, so it’s equally important as other pointers.

Annual management fees

You have to pay the man. It’s not exactly easy handling other people’s investments. Again, the best choice is to settle with an investment that can have the lowest fees possible. Some cases have fees exceeding two per cent every year, and that isn’t good.

Protect your investment with the right insurance. We help find the best covers for expats and businesses in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us today.