12 April, 2016

Critical Illness Spotlight: Diabetes

Even when you are young, there is still a need for hospitalisation and critical illness insurance plans.  One reason, for Singaporeans, is diabetes.  According to a Channel NewsAsia report, dated the 16th March 2015, Singapore’s diabetes patients are amongst the youngest in Asia.

The report said, and I quote, “A local study on patients with Type 2 diabetes across nine Asian territories showed that Singapore has the highest proportion of younger patients.  The study among 319 patients was conducted by the Asian Diabetes Foundation from 2012 to 2014, and included patients from Singapore, Thailand, China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.  The study found that three in 10 patients in Singapore had diabetes before turning 40.  Younger patients also fared poorly in terms of glucose control, hypertension and cholesterol management compared to older patients.”

According to statistics, almost 500,000 Singaporeans have Type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes mellitus Type 2, the most common form of diabetes, is a metabolic disorder with effects that get progressively worse over the long term.  It is characterised by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and the relative lack of insulin.  The most common symptoms are increased thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss.  They may also include increased hunger, lethargy, and sores that do not heal.  Often symptoms come on slowly.  In the long-term, there will be complications such as high blood sugar, heart disease, strokes, diabetic retinopathy which may result in blindness, kidney failure, and poor blood flow to the limbs which may eventually necessitate amputations.

Type 2 diabetes is primarily due to obesity and a lack enough exercise in people who are genetically predisposed.  This lack of exercise and increased obesity is increasing amongst Singaporeans.  Whilst treatment is possible through lifestyle changes, and medication, you must still deal with the possible long-term consequence.  And that means future possible treatment.

According to the Straits Times report, published on the 12th February, 2015, more people here and around the world are succumbing to diabetes.  Worldwide, it is expected to affect 66 million people, which is more than double the 171 million in 2000.  This is according to the World Health Organisation.

There are critical illness plans that specifically cover complications from diabetes and there are provisions in plans that do not specifically mention diabetes but cover its complications as part of the plan, all this providing that none of them are a pre-existing condition.  So a critical illness plan will cover heart disease, liver failure and stroke even if the plan itself does not mention diabetes.  Like any sort of plan, it is generally advisable to take the up when you are young and healthy.  Should complications develop, you want to be thinking of treatment, not how to pay for them.

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