04 Apr 2019

Medical Profession Illness Benefit Claims Rate Increases to 1 in 7

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Just over 1 in 7 Medical Professionals including GPs, Consultants and Pharmacists claimed on their income protection policy in 2018 compared to 1 in 8 the previous year, marking a significant increase.

Within the GP/Consultant group, three ongoing claimants were paid €350,000 and will continue to be paid for as long as they are unable to return to work full time.

Across the professions, the rate of claims for accidents and injuries rose to 10% with numerous fractures to fingers and ankles reported. This of course renders most medical professionals unable to attend work until a full recovery has taken place.

Unfortunately there was a noted increase in cancer-related claims, accounting for 5% of the total claims paid.

Viral infections and gastro illnesses made up the largest category of illnesses – as a policy with no waiting period this is expected. What is notable within this category is that a number of these claims lasted for 2-3 weeks as opposed to just a few days. Some cases of sinusitis and tonsillitis ran up to 6 weeks’ time off work.

 

These key findings come from Omega Financial Management’s annual review of claims paid on their Day One policy with DG Mutual. The analysis is carried out to better understand the illnesses and injuries that have faced policy holders.

One in 7 Pharmacists claimed on their income protection policies. After the main category of viral/gastro issues, work-related stress was the cause of 15% of these claims.

 

The average age of a claimant was similar to the previous year at 41 years old, however the gender split has widened somewhat to 68% female / 32% male.

Depending on the income protection provider you choose, some conditions are included and some are not. Many would not cover mental health or pregnancy related conditions. When making a decision about cover it is really important to consider working status, lifestyle and future plans.

As a self-employed medical professional, you are acutely aware that illness can make a huge financial impact on your patients, your practice and yourself. If you are a GP, your practice needs to continue to run without you and the cost of a Locum is not fully covered by the HSE contribution. According to one of the ongoing claimants ‘it’s a contribution and doesn’t go anywhere near the full cost of it’.

Common sense dictates that as soon as illness is suspected, early action should be taken to improve the outcome however for doctors there are some factors that may delay this such as a lack of confidentiality. Practitioner Healthcare Matters (PHMP) was set up to support and provide medical care to healthcare practitioners facing specific issues including stress and mental health difficulties. According to their 2017 Annual Report, PHMP reports that medical doctors were the largest profession group to attend their services. By age, the largest group were practitioners in the 25-34 age bracket, or first ten years of practice. According to the report ‘male patients were over-represented where a diagnosis of burnout was made on first presentation with 80% in this category’.

None of us know what is around the corner, all we can do is prepare sufficiently and live our lives well.

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