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The Newest Critical Illnesses in Singapore (and Critical Illness Coverage)

Updated: Feb 9

To my Dad: For whatever little interest you've helped me to reach with Science, I've used it on these articles.

It’s July, and I’m fully into Insurance Season.

What is ‘Insurance Season’? Insurance season is a term based on a lesson that Dr Sanjay Tolani, best selling Financial Consultant in all of Asia - talked about.

In a nutshell, what tends to happen during October to December is that towards the end of the holidays for students, workers, parents and what not, people will do incredibly stupid things to themselves.

Claims tend to shoot up around this time of the year, leaving underwriters, claims agents and the insurance companies themselves with a lot of work.

As a result, much like movie releases – insurance companies will tend to release their new products – specifically, insurance – between March and September after the clown fiesta which is December and the months following.

Companies are aggressively competing because they have hellishly good products to offer done by creative product teams and careful actuaries who calculate profit margins in a manner far more favorable than say, Medical Insurance.

That is insurance season.

So what does this have to do with you?

Lets Sidetrack A Bit

Well, in 2016 a particularly reputable insurance company began to offer Critical Illnesses outside of the 37 designated LIA (Life Insurance Association of Singapore) illnesses.

What this means is that they offered additional coverage on top of what was mandatory for them to offer under regulation.

Yours truly, being an early critical illness specialist and all, laughed at the time.

These illnesses seemed so… Ridiculous, really, that there was no way they would catch onto the mainstream. Who ever heard of such illnesses to begin with?

(Note: this was before I wrote THIS ARTICLE and THIS ARTICLE, realizing that LIA will really make anything mainstream if they want)

Being a true cynic as a practitioner, I just assumed that they were really being offered because the claim rate was impossibly low.

It would never catch on, and I wouldn’t have to bother learning it because it wasn’t useful.

…Naturally, less than 3 years later this came back to bite my complacent self in the ass.

With insurance season now underway, THREE more companies have offered coverage for these particular diseases. Statistically, the presence of these illnesses globally has risen, not dropped.

I wouldn’t go so far to say that it’s a cause for concern yet, but seeing how other insurance companies have not only added these diseases but an even greater encompassing range, it wouldn’t be surprising to see these diseases enter into the LIA list.

I mean, they included Polio, so that should tell you something.

[The infamous Polio has gone from a global threat of 350,000 people a year to a disease that afflicts 1 in 42 million people, usually children. The probability of you, a grown adult in Singapore getting it - is the same probability of winning the UK National Lottery. Thrice.]

Without much further ado, here are some of the up and coming diseases you may consider cause for concern, ranked from Most Dangerous to Least Dangerous.

1) Elephantiasis

English Translation: Worms. It’s worms, guys.

Symptoms and Effects: Parasitic worms cause abnormal swelling in the limbs to the point it becomes very large (like an Elephant, hence the name), starting from mild inconvenience to as far as permanent disabilities that affect your daily activities of living.

It is also very painful.

Why you should be worried: It’s worms. Worms are actually very common, which is why you’ve probably heard about it.

Even with an evident severity – it already affects 200 million people worldwide, likely far more when you think about the standard cases where there are smaller worms inside of you that just make you think you have an enhanced metabolism.

There are no prevailing symptoms outside of the initial swelling and pain, which can be easily mistaken for many other less severe diseases. Failure to treat it early makes it eventually irreversible, which is terrifying.

Why you don’t really need to care: You really need to care.

2) Medullary Cystic Disease

English Translation: Rare Kidney Disease that makes you pee good water instead of bad waste

Symptoms and Effects: Anorexia, Bone Pain, Nausea

Why you should be worried: Healthline explained it really well:

"The damage caused by MCKD leads the kidneys to produce urine that isn’t concentrated enough. In other words, your urine is too watery and lacks the proper amount of waste.

As a result, you’ll end up urinating way more fluid than normal (polyuria) as your body tries to get rid of all the extra waste. And when the kidneys produce too much urine, then water, sodium, and other vital chemicals are lost."

Over time, MCKD will lead to Kidney Failure - which requires either Lifelong Dialysis or a Kidney Transplant.

Why you don’t really need to care: 9 per 8.3million, less than 0.1% in the US.

Largely due to genetic factors, but not necessarily hereditary factors - in summary, luck. Your parent having it is no indication of you getting it, and it can happen to you even if your parents don't have it.

3) Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

English Translation: A brain disorder that gradually (progressive) damages certain parts of the brain above nerve cell clusters/nuclei (supernuclear) until reaching peak weakness (palsy).

If 'peak weakness' seems like an oxymoron, you wouldn't be able to argue that once it happens to you because you'll basically be dead already.

Symptoms and Effects: Imbalance and walking difficulties, frequent falls,

Why you should be worried: There is no cure, and people become severely disabled within 3 to 5 years of onset. The entire duration up to that point is suffering - constant pneumonia, head injuries, choking.

Your best case scenario, even with good nutrition - is living a decade or slightly more after the diagnosis of initial symptoms, otherwise shorter.

Why you don’t really need to care: 3 to 6 per 100,000 people. Uncommon but not common or rare, less common than Alzheimers.

4) Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease