The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for Malaysian households and businesses, adversely affecting the livelihood of many.
On the flip side, it brought into focus what matters most and what needs protecting.
As we adjust to new lifestyle norms, the state of our health and finances has become a top priority.
Although much of the spotlight is on Covid-19 – and rightly so – we must also remember that other infectious and chronic illnesses are very much prevalent among Malaysians and continue to pose significant health risks.
The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) revealed that half of Malaysian adults are either overweight or obese, with one in five (19.7%) being obese.
This is a cause for concern as obesity puts us at greater risk for developing chronic illnesses.
It has also been found that Malaysians are generally unprepared for health emergencies.
From the Malaysian Health Survey conducted by Prudential Malaysia and iMoney last March (pre-MCO, 2020), one in four Malaysians would rely on their friends and family to help them cover medical expenses, which includes post-treatment care, alternative treatments and loss of income.
It was reported in 2019 that Malaysia ranked among the region’s highest for medical inflation rates at 13.1%.
With such health threats on the rise, it is even more crucial for us to be prepared for any unforeseen emergencies.
The old adage of “prevention is better than cure” rings true in the present health crisis.
An active and healthy lifestyle is important to prevent the onset of health issues, while contributing greatly towards positive mental and emotional health.
Many Malaysians are using digital tools or technology to help manage their health, e.g. using a calorie counter or a running app to monitor their diet and physical activity respectively.
And in the current pandemic, technology is becoming even more of an enabler for consumers to keep track of their health.
There are digital health apps available that offer services such as health assessment, symptom-checker and online doctor consultation, among others.
While we can do our best to protect our health, medical emergencies can hit when least expected and critical illnesses can strike even if you are young, healthy and fit.
Having financial protection with medical insurance alleviates the stress of recovering from an illness.
People often confuse medical insurance with critical illness insurance.
Medical insurance covers the cost of hospitalisation and treatment.
Meanwhile, critical illness insurance provides a lump sum payout the client can utilise to cover costs for a caregiver, alternative treatment or therapy that is not covered by the medical policy, and potential loss of income, among others.
A critical illness plan complements a medical plan, as together, they provide comprehensive medical protection.
As we navigate through the pandemic’s consequences, we can expect to face new health challenges that may impact the way we live.
While we have no control over these circumstances, we can and should take charge of the way we stay healthy and financially protected.
Eric Wong is the chief customer and marketing officer of Prudential Assurance Malaysia. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.