Family and friends would probably be aware that Baby Olympia was hospitalised on Day 9 of her relatively short existence in this world. The good news is that she has since been discharged from hospital with no known medical conditions. The bad news is that this 4-day hospitalisation cost a total of $4,200. This was a painful financial lesson for Heartland Boy and reiterated his belief on the importance of Integrated Shield Plan for his child.
What Happens When A Child Less Than 3 Months Old Has Fever?
On Day 9, Baby Olympia recorded fever of 38.1 degrees. 3 adults in the household, including Heartland Boy himself, also experienced symptoms commonly associated with stomach flu (gastroenteritis).
Not taking any chances, Heartland Boy and Heartland Girl brought Baby Olympia to the Children’s A&E section at KKH. The nurse at the triage confirmed that she was having fever. The doctor on duty explained that fever is a significant medical event for any new born baby less than 3 months old. As such, Baby Olympia had to be hospitalized and be subject to a battery of tests. To spare other parents on the agonising details of the invasive procedures, Baby Olympia had to be tested for bacterial infection in her blood, urethra and brain.
Because bacteria take a minimum of 48 hours to be cultured, definitive test results would only be known then. As such, Baby Olympia had to be hospitalised for a minimum of 3 nights. Amazingly, her fever dropped below 38 degrees the moment Daddy signed the authorisation form to admit her into hospital! Maybe she realised that she finally got her staycation wish – a dedicated team of nurses looking after her round the clock in an air-conditioned environment.
The 14-Day Private Health Insurance Gap For A Newborn
Besides the emotional trauma (yes Heartland Boy teared on learning his daughter had to be hospitalized), this bout of fever also cost a dent in Heartland Boy’s wallet. Due to the age that Olympia was hospitalised, there was actually no way Heartland Boy could have avoided this out-of-pocket cost. Let him explain why.
No private insurance companies would provide additional private insurance coverage from Day 0 to Day 14. There is a possibility of private maternity insurance closing this gap but such hospitalization benefits would only apply for insured events such as pre-defined congenital illnesses. Moreover, it only applies when the child is warded into an Intensive Care Unit (‘ICU’) or a High Dependency Unit (‘HDU’). This was neither the case for Baby Olympia. Therefore, both the maternity insurance policies that Heartland Boy purchased for his wife did not come in useful for this circumstance.
Why MediShield Life Was Insufficient
A silver lining lies in the MediShield Life as it automatically kicks in from Day 1 of the Insured’s life (provided baby is born a Singapore Citizen). However, MediShield Life did not come in particularly useful in this situation as well. According to the Paediatrician, an infant as young as 9 days old should be staying in an isolated ward as far as possible (in other words, as long as parents could afford it). As her immune system was still very low, there was every chance that Baby Olympia could contract other infectious diseases from her co-patients in the ward. That would add to further complications and Heartland Boy is certain that no parent would want that on their child. Therefore, on the advice of the Paediatrician, Heartland Dad opted for a class A ward in a restructured hospital. As a result, Baby Olympia’s hospitalization stay was not entirely subsidized under MediShield Life.
*Note that MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan administered by the CPF and sized for subsidised treatment in public hospitals and pegged at B2/C- wards. (Source: Ministry of Health)
What Can Parents Do For Their Child’s Private Health Insurance
This 14-day private health insurance gap is indeed very annoying and something that is beyond the control of parents. However, what all parents can do is to ensure that the private health insurance gap stays at a maximum of 14 days. Their child should be incepted into their respective Hospitalisation and Surgery (‘H&S’) plans as early as possible. This would narrow the window of opportunity that a financial misfortune arising from a child’s hospitalisation can befall on a family. Moreover, getting them insured as young as possible means that the kid is likely to pass the medical underwriting with no exclusions or no loaded premiums. The price to pay for procrastination can often be very costly.
Once Heartland Boy learnt that Baby Olympia had to be hospitalised, he immediately postponed the appointment that he had arranged with his insurance agent. Ironically, the appointment was to reivew Baby Olympia’s H&S (integrated shield plan) and personal accident insurance policies that his agent had prepared after an earlier round of comparison. The moral of the lesson is that you can be as prepared as you can be but when life throws a curve ball like this, you simply got to take it on its chin. The lesson learnt here is that all caregivers should practise good personal and hand hygiene when dealing with newborns. Till today, he could not believe how misfortune manage to find its way in this incredibly small window of 14 days. And his most feared word these days is FEVER.