Don’t Be That Guy: Get Medical Insurance

When it comes to securing functional health insurance, knowledge is power.

Read the small print – it’s an art form where corporations bury the low down knowing most buyers won’t read tiny text. Read it and read it again. Use a magnifying glass if you have to.

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) some health insurance brokers will sell a policy that is simply not real or one that will not provide the benefits outlined.

Some policies simply do not exist.

“Travel or health insurance usually does not include extreme sports like white water rafting or bungee jumping, natural disasters (think volcano), war, terrorism, unattended luggage or places where an official travel warning has been issued,” says ASIC’s Smart Money advisory.

In fact, if you are living in Indonesia it’s possible that your chosen health insurance is not even legal given that operators require a special license to do business here. They also may not be properly insured themselves. Fake policies are more common than fake news.

One popular travel insurance company used among expats will not honour a claim if the victim has consumed alcohol. This could translate to a Bintang and riding on the back of a bike with someone else at the controls when an accident happens. The same policy does not cover costs of an event caused by natural disaster. Think a massive deluge of rain, a slip and a snapped bone. If you have ever had a bike accident or nearly fallen into a got – or uncovered gutter – you will know South-East Asia’s unique conditions.

While most insurers do have medical evacuation as part of a plan, the fine print may recognize an ill-equipped and underfunded rural hospital as the ‘nearest place of medical excellence’ and the policyholder has no say in the matter. There goes that flight to Singapore and premier health care to fix that ruptured spleen.

Bali’s homegrown health insurer International Global Health (IGH) has curated coverage that covers these holes. “IGH offers chronic care for pre-existing or long term illness, we are licensed in Indonesia, our policies are designed for life here, we have low annual increase and offer choice for our clients treatment,” said IGH chief Richard Flax.

Backed by Australia’s largest global insurer QBE, IGH policies were developed by the team that has also been Bali’s first responders for 25 years, which includes attending to the aftermath of several catastrophic bombings. IGH knows the lay of the land here and delivers practical assistance 24/7.

“In a medical emergency we will have a big hospital in Bali triage while we arrange a medevac to Singapore or Australia. It’s part of every policy,” he said.

Some of Bali’s biggest names have switched to IGH including Ku De Ta as a company and the legendary bad boy behind Deus ex Machina, Dustin Humphrey.

It’s too late to secure practical – and legal – insurance after an accident.

Imagine finding yourself on the ground having hit a patch of gravel on your pushbike, your hand dangling at a sickening angle with no clear bones apart from one that is almost poking out of the skin. I did.

Adrenaline kicked in so a swift whack returned the dislocated bone. Then the pain started triggering nausea and waxy sweat. Just before my hand started to bloat beyond recognition, the kids removed a couple of rings while helpful locals made a sling, moved the bikes and called an ambulance.

Ninety minutes later – without painkillers – two paramedics arrived to establish that I was not dead and that the break was serious. My left hand had swollen hideously and fingers where going black.

Junior ended up strapped into the gurney, while the other rode up front while I was in the back of the ambulance, hitting knock out painkillers that sparked an epic nicotine and margarita craving.

At the hospital more drugs were issued, images and scans taken and a ‘reduction’ was performed where doctors pulled the bones back into place while I was in a drug induced twilight zone.

Mammoth swelling prevented immediate surgery on the two breaks. It bought me time to think. Do I really want to be in this hospital? Back to the camp, high as a kite and feeling awful with two strung out but awesome kids, brought some rest and an hour cutting through the too-tight plaster with nail scissors.

The next day the surgeon chronicled the surgery; a bone graft, a plate, pins and an external metal ‘fixator’ which is a dark ages-looking thing held outside of the body fastened by pins that pass through the skin and muscle into the bone. Charming.

Through cold tears of pure fear, I demanded the surgery be transferred to a centre of medical excellence. Exactly a week later, I was in superb hospital with a plate, pins and artificial bones out of a bag sprinkled into my joint by an orthopedic surgeon who shunned the creepy fixator. After the anesthetic wore off, searing pain crept in. Pain meds hadn’t made it to my chart and the night nurse was an enforcer. Seven hours of blinding agony later, the doctors arrived to admire their handy work and instantly delivered an IV hit of morphine and apologized unrelentingly for the over sight.
Friends at home in Bali agreed how lucky I was that this happened in Australia.

Imagine if it happened in Amed. At least I have peace knowing that my IGH policy would kick in to take care of repairs, if it had. O.S.