January 23, 2019 is_admin

Unintended Consequences of the ‘Stress Sickie’

Lee Nickelson is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

The term ‘take a sickie’ has been part of the Australian vernacular for generations, with many thinking it is their god given right after a big weekend to take an extra recovery day or two before heading back to work. Since employers have cottoned on to this phenomenon, many now request a medical certificate forcing a trip to the doctors and a medical reason for the absence. No harm.. surely?!

What many of us have been slow to realise is that these medical certificate trips are recorded on our medical history, which are commonly requested by insurers to make assessments both when applying for insurance cover and at the time of a claim.

A few trips to the doctor citing stress in order to get some time off work could result in an insurer putting an exclusion on all mental health conditions when they offer you cover. Or worse, a group insurer could use these doctor’s visits as proof of a pre-existing condition and then knock back a legitimate mental health claim in the future.

Another interesting learning I have come across when implementing insurance plans for clients are the instances where doctors’ reports do not match with the recollections of the patient. Many doctors are unaware of the consequences of writing ‘discussed feelings of depression’ when it could have been a more general conversation without a medical diagnosis. An insurer underwriting again may infer this as evidence of a pre-existing or recurring condition when it could have been a discussion of state of mind at the time.

It is all the more important to pay attention to how we interact with our medical records, including what we see our doctor’s for, what notes they actually write down during the consultation and who has access to those records going forward, because of the Governments new My Health Record initiative.

A My Health Record will be created for every Australian after 31st January 2019 unless you opt out. The record is designed to be a central place medical professionals can view your medical conditions, treatments, medicine details, allergies and test or result scans.

I encourage all Australians to take charge of your medical history, be aware of the implications of seeing a doctor on future insurance applications, and head to the My Health Record website before 31st January 2019 to make a decision for yourself whether a digital health record is right for you. https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.
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