Another wave of positive COVID-19 cases indicates that the pandemic won’t be going away soon.
That means doctors will spend many more months treating COVID-19 patients and dealing with COVID-19 protocols. Many specialists may have to limit their practices as elective procedures are put on hold.
As you help your patients, it’s important to also protect yourself and your practice. Not just from COVID-19 infections, but also the potential impact of the virus.
That means as 2020 comes to an end amid a COVID-19 resurgence, doctors should review their insurance coverage. There may be opportunities to update existing coverage or add coverage you currently don’t have.
Here are the types of insurance doctors should review in the age of COVID-19:
1. Health insurance
The current open enrollment period is the perfect time to review your health insurance to ensure you have adequate coverage for you and your family’s health care needs. This is especially true in 2020, as doctors have rarely been susceptible to illness than during the current pandemic.
Something your should definitely review about your current health plan is the deductible and out-of-pocket costs. If the virus makes you acutely ill, a hospital stay may be required. Before that happens you should know how much your insurance plan will cover to avoid sticker shock.
You should also review which facilities are inside and outside of your carrier’s network. Getting tested at an out-of-network clinic can significantly raise your out-of-pocket costs.
2. Physician life insurance
With more than 250,000 COVID-10 deaths in 2020 so far, doctors need to review their current life insurance coverage.
Although the risk of dying for COVID-19 is relatively minimal, it does happen. And there are dozens of other ways you can die unexpectedly. Life insurance can protect your family and loved ones from losing your income by paying a death benefit to those beneficiaries.
Doctors who don’t have an individual policy should absolutely look into adding coverage soon. Group policies are often contingent on employment, and many medical professionals have dealt with layoffs this year as non-pandemic treatments have dried up.
3. Physician disability insurance
The 2020 pandemic serves to remind us of life’s unpredictability.
But guess what? Suffering an illness or injury that limits your ability to work isn’t that rare. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, about 25 percent of 20-year-olds will become disabled at some point before reaching age 67.
People infected with coronavirus need to be isolated in a hospital or at home depending on how sick they are.
The length of time can vary. The decision to release an infected patient from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis. Patients have to exhibit no symptoms and test negative for the virus before they’re released.
If you’re fortunate, you’ll be released in days and only have to use paid time off. But what happens if you are unable to work for weeks or even longer? Can you afford the lost income?
You can if you have physician disability insurance. This type of insurance replaces the income you lose if you can’t work due to an injury or illness, such as COVID-19.
Just as with life insurance, strongly consider the need for an individual policy to ensure you don’t find yourself without disability coverage if you lose your job because of the pandemic.
4. Medical malpractice insurance
COVID-19 is by far the biggest health concern this year and will probably continue to be in 2021. That makes it a potential liability concern for physicians.
As you’re well aware, malpractice suits are a problem for the medical profession even without COVID-19. According to a 2016 study by the New England Journal of Medicine, about 75 percent of physicians will be sued for medical malpractice at some point in their careers. About 20 percent will have to pay an indemnity based on a judgement against them.
The cost can be considerable. According to the American Medical Association, defense costs alone run, on average, $30,000 in cases that never go to trial or decision.
And if you’re one of the few who either settle out of court or lose a jury verdict, the impact can be irreparable. One study found that the average payout for successful malpractice claims between 2009 and 2014 was $353,000. Of more than 280,000 paid claims during the same period, about 8 percent topped $1 million, with nearly one-third involving a patient death.
One reason is to review your medical malpractice insurance now is the possibility that rates will rise in the near future if COVID-related malpractice suits materialize.
5. Critical illness insurance
As you know, COVID-19 may lead to long-term damage to a person’s vital organs, which can result in critical illnesses later. Treating critical illnesses gets expensive, and health insurance may not cover the entire balance. Critical illness insurance (CII) is a type of supplemental insurance that pays a lump sum benefit if you are diagnosed with a covered illness.
6. Hospital indemnity insurance
As a physician, you’re well aware of how expensive a hospital stay can be, even with health insurance picking up much of the tab.
Being admitted to the ICU and hooked up to a ventilator due to COVID-19 complications can wipe out much of your savings or put you in debt for years.
According to latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, a total of 63,152 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations were reported as of October 17, 2020. The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 193.7 per 100,000 population.
With the possibility of being hospitalized increasing due to COVID-19, it may be wise to consider signing up for hospital indemnity insurance during your open enrollment period, if it’s available.
Doctors should review all of their insurance plans annually, regardless of whether you’re elbow deep in pandemic patients. But in 2020, in the age of COVID-19, it’s especially important to review your insurance.