Self employed people are particularly vulnerable if they are diagnosed with an illness and it’s worrying that so few have any sort of plan in place
Self employed people are amongst the hardest hit when it comes to the financial impact of being in hospital.
That’s the conclusion in a new report examining the true costs of illness conducted by leading cash plan provider Medicash.
The survey questioned 400 Britons who had all recently been in hospital or were undergoing regular outpatient treatment.
The findings show that, on average, a self employed person loses over £3000 in income when they are unable to work as a result of illness. A third of this group reported loss of earnings of more than £5000. There are over 3 million self employed in the UK, yet worryingly only 28% of self employed people have any kind of insurance in place to cover illness.
And the extra costs involved with being in hospital has led to 50% of self employed people feeling stressed, with half fearing this would hinder their recovery.
The top five costs respondents said they were unprepared for were; car parking charges, TV cards, food, travel expenses and medication with patients being out of pocket to the tune of £50 on average. Family and friends were asked to fork out for extra food or drink for 40% of patients in hospital and in areas such as the North West this figure rose to over 60%.
Medicash Chief Executive Sue Weir said: “Self employed people are particularly vulnerable if they are diagnosed with an illness and it’s worrying that so few have any sort of plan in place. Many people simply don’t take the time to think about how they would cope financially if they were unable to work and if this happens it can cause considerable strain for both individuals and their families.
“People without cover can be hit hard. We want to encourage people to plan ahead so that, in the event of illness, they can have peace of mind.”
Medicash plans provide a range of benefits which give members cash back on day to day healthcare expenses as well as payouts ranging from £16-£105 each night for inpatient stays in hospital and £14-£90 for hospital daycase visits.
The independent research was conducted by award winning market research company The Murray Consultancy.
TOP THREE MOST EXPENSIVE COSTS
• Car parking
• TV cards
For further information contact Geraldine Turner at Clarity Creation on 0151 293 0505 or 0785 004 5037.
CASE STUDY: PAUL RICE
Most people visit the opticians with a view to having their eyesight checked. But for a Liverpool man the appointment led to a hospital admission later that day and a cancer diagnosis the following week. Paul Rice, Chief Executive of The Commercial District explains.
“I had been feeling unusually tired for a few days which was unlike me and I was also experiencing some light-headedness which didn’t feel right. Having recently separated from my wife and feeling under some stress at work I put it down to that but decided nevertheless to attend my appointment at Boots for my regular check up.”
The staff offered Paul an in-depth additional test for £10 which he agreed to. The optometrist’s camera inspection of the retina then revealed some haemorrhaging which he suspected could be linked with diabetes. He made an urgent referral to allow Paul to go to his GP straight away. The doctor ordered blood tests to be done and later that day the results emerged showing dangerously low levels of red and white blood cells as well as a severely diminished platelet count. An urgent telephone call instructed Paul to go immediately to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital Medical Assessment Unit where he was given several pints of blood before being admitted on to a ward.
One week later a bone marrow biopsy revealed that Paul was not suffering from diabetes. He was, in fact, diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called MDS (Myelodysplasia) commonly associated with Leukaemia. He was told he faced months in hospital and would be given intensive chemotherapy and other aggressive treatments designed to try to eradicate the cancerous cells in the bone marrow and restore his blood counts and overall health.
“Receiving the news was a terrifying shock that I found hard to take in. Just weeks before I had enjoyed a fantastic holiday in Spain and had been feeling great. Then a simple trip to the opticians had led to the discovery that I had a life-threatening disease with an uncertain prognosis. I didn’t know it at the time, but when I first arrived in hospital my red blood cell count was just 5.6. It’s supposed to be between 12 and 15 and, given that those cells carry oxygen around the body, it doesn’t take Einstein to work out that it was extremely dangerous. Visiting the opticians probably saved my life.”
Paul underwent a year of gruelling therapy with several alarms along the way. The risk of infections was severe and a simple cut finger led to complications which took months to clear.
“I received incredible care from the staff on wards 7Y and 10Z at the Royal and will forever be in their debt. They are a truly inspirational team and worked round the clock to help me. I benefitted first hand from the hospital’s well-deserved reputation for clinical excellence.”
Being self employed meant Paul lost several thousand pounds of pay whilst in hospital and his family and friends forked out hundreds of pounds in car parking, food and other items.
“Funnily enough I had an application form for Medicash in my briefcase for a while and I had fully intended to join but never got round to it. If I had been a paid up member I could have claimed not only for the eye test but also over £2000 in inpatient benefit.
The cost of being in hospital is high both emotionally and financially and having a cash plan definitely would have helped. I am a member now though. “
In January this year the search for a matching donor proved successful and Paul received a bone marrow transplant. He is now back at work full time and - although he has some time to go before receiving an official all clear - he’s feeling well and positive.
“I would advise anyone never to put off a visit to the optician. And especially - if you feel unwell - do something about it. Too many people leave things too late. I was lucky.”
Paul Rice is the Chief Executive of The Commercial District.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• Medicash is based in Liverpool and employs 70 staff. The organisation has a corporate and individual membership of over 137,000 making it one of the largest and most established healthcare cash plan providers in the UK.
• As Medicash does not have shareholders, any surpluses are reinvested in the business for the benefit of members. In 2010 the Medicash group donated over £150,000 to health-related charities and hospitals.
• Medicash is one of the largest and most established healthcare cash plan providers in the UK. Medicash offer the leading choice in positive health plans for companies, individuals and intermediaries and this year the organisation celebrates its 140th anniversary. Established to help fund the voluntary hospitals of Liverpool, Medicash’s passion for providing members with quality healthcare plans is just as strong today as it was in 1871.
• Liverpool based Medicash is a not for profit organisation which invests ethically and uses all surplus funds solely for the benefit of members.
• Medicash has a long tradition of charitable giving, and regularly makes significant donations to the NHS and various health-related charities.
• Leading independent consumer magazine Which? Money has included Medicash Active in its list of best policies on the market after evaluating 177 healthcare cash plans on criteria which includes value for money.
• Medicash is the only cash plan provider to feature in four of the five categories in Money Saving Expert’s Best Buys Guide for Cash Plans. The Medicash Active cash plan ranked in the top three featured by MoneySavingExpert.com - the independent personal finance website created by Martin Lewis.
• Medicash is the official headline sponsor of St Helens RLFC (Saints) for the Super League XVI season. Medicash is also a sponsor of neighbouring club Widnes Vikings RLFC for this year.
• In 2008 Medicash was the first cash plan provider to be awarded carbon natural status.
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