Medical F* Bombs Abroad

Medical F* Bombs Abroad

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In just a short month, 2 similar stories caught my attention concerning Malaysians who had their baby unexpectedly abroad, pre-term! Having a baby abroad is going to be costly already am sure, but a pre-term baby comes with a whole lot of emotional, physically and financial pain.

The first story was a mother who had her baby at 27 weeks (for those unfamiliar, a full term baby is 38 weeks onwards and typically babies under 38 weeks are kept in a incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to fully mature and be able to fend for himself/herself) in Tokyo where she followed her husband to who was on a work trip. The second was a mother who had her baby in the UK 10 weeks before the baby was actually due. Both had incurred astronomical medical costs, the former with a bill of USD225,000 and the latter with a USD120,000 bill.

This story resonated with me because with Coco Jr #2, we had unexpected challenges which could have resulted in a pre-term baby as well. My first pregnancy was an absolute breeze and I was joking from the get-go of the 2nd pregnancy that I was tricked into thinking that it’ll be easy-peasy as well. How wrong I was! I approached the pregnancy as I did the 1st, having my normal activities and having holidays planned. I found out I was pregnant while on a work trip and I was having massive pain that I saw a gynecologist at said foreign location. This did not happen the 1st time around and having to see a doctor abroad and to do a scan did not prompt us to think that further complications while abroad could cost us a lot of money. Well we didn’t think further complications would arise even as the first child was smooth-sailing.

All was well and I returned to Singapore and endured the joys of the first trimester – which was not fun at all. At Month 4 I had a scheduled work trip to US which I was not looking forward to as it was a very long flight and once again, I would be away from Coco Jr #1 and Mr.C. Both my trips was about 2 weeks each and I had the usual travel insurance. As the two ladies mentioned above found out, insurance does not cover pregnancy. At least not in Malaysia and Singapore as I know it is covered in the US.

Rather foolhardy to be travelling when you are pregnant then I would think, even if you are low risk as complications can arise at anytime and to anyone. 9 months of being grounded isn’t such a bad thing compared to potential complications and the costs. Again, this still did not occur to Mr.C and I and I had a successful work trip with a few days of fun in the end with brother dearest.

Come July, we had a massive family holiday planned in Thailand. Brother dearest was flying back from the US for this trip and it was one of our favourite locations in Thailand. 9 days after the trip, I had rashes from head to toe. This would not have been so much a cause for concern had I not been pregnant and Thailand was affected by Zika (as was almost every tropical country in Asia!). 2 visits to the doctor and 1 to my gynecologist later, I was subject to multiple blood tests that cost me $1,000 (even at NUH) which I tried to get my insurances to cover but hey, it’s pregnancy related so no way, Jose.

Lesson learnt? Not quite. Late August, Mr.C and I had a trip planned to Cambodia for us and Jr. I was a little hesitant but we had the flights and amazing hotel booked (completely unrelated fun fact here that the cost of a lavish 5 star hotel in Cambodia for a month was slight less than our rent in Singapore for a month, and this isn’t even considering arrangements with the hotel for a long-stay rate!).

1st August was the date that everything we expected and planned had gone south. I was bleeding, which is never a good sign in pregnancy. We went to NUH and I was hospitalised for 5 days, during which doctors were unable to determine the reason however prepped me in the scenario that I had to deliver Jr #2. This included 2 very painful steroid injections to mature the baby’s lungs and getting me prepared for the costs which would be a colossal S$2,000 a day in NICU, not including other incidentals. This was me at week 27 and a pre-term baby is typically kept in the incubator till Week 38. That’s 10 weeks at S$2,000 a day which is not going to be covered by any insurance. I’ll leave you to do the math but I totally understand how medical bills can bankrupt a person and this locally in Singapore! We totally could have been abroad during the medical scare, I gave this pregnancy enough opportunities for that to happen!

Fast forward to today, Jr #2 has made his grand appearance and everything is fine and dandy, thankfully. I had spent 3 months on hospitalisation leave as I was to be on bed rest (imagine if I was abroad and not able to fly back to Singapore).

Lesson learnt? A resounding yes to that! Are you planned and prepared for medical f* bombs in your life, with or without FIRE on the cards?

F* this stands for financial of course, what were you thinking?

Author: Ms.K

Ms.K is everything that Mr.C is, without the natural interest in investing and company financials! The activity planner for the family, the driver of random ideas and soon to be ‘retiring’ in to full time motherhood – Ms.K has no idea what she’s in for but remains super excited!

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4 Replies to “Medical F* Bombs Abroad”

    1. Thanks Kate! I’ve forgotten everything about the pregnancy and delivery in my sleep deprived state :p I’m only semi-kidding, I forgot everything when I held him #cheesybuttrue

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