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Misconceptions and insurance

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Misconceptions and insurance: overcoming common false impressions about obtaining insurance for physicians, their families and practices.
OMA Insurance
3/1/2011
Common misconceptions regarding the need for insurance, and the cost of obtaining it, may prevent physicians from taking critical steps to help protect their health and that of their family, and to mitigate potential financial risk.

In today's hectic society, we often find ourselves overloaded with obligations that consume our time, energy and attention. This creates the ideal opportunity to procrastinate, particularly when it comes to tasks that mitigate indefinite outcomes — like purchasing insurance. Yes, it is a word that is rarely associated with excitement, but "insurance" is really the only word that can be used to help us when something unexpected happens.

We instinctively take measures to protect our home and our possessions by installing locks on doors and windows, and purchasing home insurance. However, we often don't take equally important steps to protect ourselves from situations that can seriously impact our good health, and potentially deplete our life savings.

According to Kanetix, a Canadian-based online insurer (www.kanetix.ca), 35% of Canadians do not insure themselves to protect their lifestyles, finances, or loved ones. While the rationale for not obtaining insurance may vary from person to person, OMA Insurance Advisors Judy Wood and Glen Johnson have found that, among physicians, the reasons typically fall into three main categories: perceived lack of insurance need, perceived insurance expense, and perceived difficulty in obtaining insurance.

Not only are these perceptions often incorrect, they may prevent physicians from undertaking critical measures that can help protect their own health — and that of their family — in times of need, as well as mitigate potential financial disaster.

1. "I don't need insurance"

According to Ms. Wood, "I don't need insurance" is the reason cited most often by young physicians for not obtaining insurance. This is a common misconception that can have potentially devastating consequences.

"These physicians believe that because they are young, healthy, and don't have any dependents, they don't need insurance," says Ms. Wood. "But how would they pay their bills if they had to stop working due to serious illness or injury, or couldn't even start working in the first place? It can happen. I know of a person just out of medical school who had a serious accident over the summer that made starting work impossible. Many believe that prescriptions, medical treatments, rehabilitation and other expenses will all be covered by provincial health insurance. They're not.

"Is it fair to your dependents or spouse that they should  absorb funeral costs and all outstanding debts if you die suddenly, or if they need to provide constant care should you become seriously disabled?," asks Ms. Woods.

"These are really important considerations, and topics that should be discussed with your family members, as they are the ones who will have to deal with economic hardship if you have no insurance protection."

2. "Insurance is expensive"

Generally, the amount you pay for insurance is based on your age and health.  The longer you wait, the more you will pay to buy insurance.

 "And, as most of us know, the years tend to pass quickly," says Glen Johnson. "If you leave it too late, you can find yourself in the unfortunate position of being uninsurable."

Mr. Johnson adds, "The cost of waiting isn't always about higher premiums because you're older. Too often it's about health changes. You're healthy and then you have a stroke, or are diagnosed with cancer or diabetes. You're healthy and drown while on vacation, or die in a car accident. Again, it's hard to imagine, and tough to think about, but it can — and does — happen. That's why it's important to take action now."

3. "Insurance is a hassle to obtain"

One of the many benefits of OMA membership is easy access to insurance plans through OMA Insurance — exclusive, flexible plans designed to address the unique lifestyle, income and practice needs of physicians. 

"OMA Insurance Advisors do not work on commission," explains Ms. Wood, "which means we can take the time to listen, explain, answer questions and offer objective advice and custom solutions to protect you, our member, with no pressure.  We're here for you — before, during, and after the purchase — we work only for physicians." 

Whether you are in medical school, just starting practice, or well established in your career, OMA Insurance has more than 50 years of experience designing comprehensive protection plans that meet your current and future needs — at affordable prices. 

If you decide to acquire OMA life or disability insurance while in medical school, no medical exam or health questions are required. With some OMA plans, the Guaranteed Insurability Option offers the opportunity to increase coverage at a later date, again with no medical underwriting. And, because the OMA is a not-for-profit association, members are eligible for premium refunds.

Ms. Wood reminds physicians that the important thing is to get the ball rolling:  "Instead of taking time to think about purchasing insurance after receiving the information, complete the application process and then take the time to think about it — while the insurer is reviewing your application. You can always change your mind later.

"The best time to buy insurance is before you need it," says Ms. Wood. "Buy it while you're young and healthy. You'll feel good about doing the right thing for tomorrow."