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February 20th, 2012
How to protect yourself if you are diagnosed with blood borne diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV.
Income Protection pays a replacement income if you are unable to work as a result of injury or illness. When determining your capacity to perform a job, you need to make sure that you take the unique nature of working as a GP into account.
Why cover yourself?
If you were diagnosed with a blood borne disease, it could be emotionally and financially devastating for you and those who depend on you.
The diagnosis may require a need to change jobs, reduce the number of patients you see or to stop work altogether. All of these situations are likely to significantly impact your income-earning ability.
You may need to make these changes because AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) has stipulated that all registered medical practitioners and registered medical students must stop performing exposure-prone procedures.
Exposure-prone procedures include contact by the skin with sharp surgical instruments, needles, splinters of bone, or teeth in poorly visualised or confined body sites.
Qualifying for benefits
With certain policies, provided that the governing body has been notified of your medical condition – and you are unable to perform a duty (or duties) of your usual occupation —you can qualify for an Income Protection disability benefits if diagnosed with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV or any other blood borne disease and:
a) you ordinarily perform exposure-prone procedures as an important part of your practice, or
b) it leads to a reduction in the number of patients you see, because patients may seek medical treatment elsewhere.
Alarmingly, however, there are a number of policies which do not cover you in these circumstances.
It is possible to obtain a ‘Needlestick Benefit’ that provides a lump sum payment for Occupationally Acquired Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV. The lump sum payment is made on top of any monthly Income Protection cover for which you may be eligible.
The Needlestick Benefit for GPs recognises the risk of contracting a blood borne disease as a result of performing your regular duties. It covers needlestick and scalpel blade injury –including blood contact with a cut or abrasion of the skin, or splash of blood to the eye.
Case Study – Hepatitis C
Robert is a General Practitioner with a special interest in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. He has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. He has seen a specialist adviser at MEDIQ Medical Financial Services and has received a comprehensive insurance strategy specifically for his profession.
Robert notifies AHPRA and stops performing exposure-prone procedures. This includes minor surgery, which is one of his key income producing duties. As a result, Robert has a more than 80% reduction in his ability to earn an income.
As his income has reduced significantly, Robert becomes eligible for total disability payments.
If Robert continues to work in an alternative capacity, which does not involve exposure prone procedures but results in a lesser income, he will be eligible for a partial disability payment.
As Robert had a comprehensive Income Protection policy, if he was unable to work for more than ten hours per week, he would be deemed his loss of income to be 100%.
Robert was infected with Hepatitis C through a needle-stick injury during minor surgery.
His Income Protection policy has a Critical Illness Option. His monthly benefit under that policy is $20,000.
Robert qualifies for the ‘Needlestick Benefit’ and will receive a tax-free lump sum payment of $1 million (being 50 x $20,000), in addition to his monthly Income Protection benefit whilst he remains off work.
It is very important to considering the definitions for an Income Protection disability – We advise a three-tier definition that delivers you the best possible outcome for your claim.
The Australian income protection market commonly uses three distinct disability definition methodologies to assess disability. These are:
a) income based – where you suffer a loss of income as a result of an injury or illness;
b) hours based – where your working hours reduce as a result of an injury or illness; or
c) duties based – where you are unable to perform important duties of your occupation as a result of an injury or illness.
You need to ensure you are covered for all three
The nature of the illness or injury can have a significant impact on which definition provides the fairest outcome. So for this reason, certain policies offer you the power of choice at claim time via a combination of all three disability definitions.
How it works
Having three options to choose from ensures you have comprehensive cover (we can help you decide which definition is most applicable to your situation). We see this as a fair and responsible way of delivering you the best possible outcome for your claim.
Case study – defining disability
Isobel is a GP working for a deputising service. Whilst visiting a friend she slipped down the stairs and injured her back and stopped working. While she can still perform some of her important income producing duties, she can only manage a patient workload of one day-a-week, a reduction from five days a week.
She has an 80% plus drop in her ability to consult. As she is not working and is currently following the advice of a medical practitioner, she qualifies for a total disability benefit.
Isobel is restricted in her ability to perform her important income producing duties. Isobel is restricted by the number of hours she can work by more than 80% compared to pre-injury levels and therefore, due to her injury, Isobel is eligible for a Total Disability benefit.
Using an income based definition; Isobel would also be entitled to a total disability benefit as she has an 80% reduction in her ability to earn income.
MEDIQ Medical Financial Services is the leading financial services provider to medical professionals in Australia. With our absolute focus on doctors and their families, we are well placed to respond to the needs of our customers.
Please contact us on email@example.com or 13000 MEDIQ (63347) for a complementary review of your current insurance policies or to organise an initial consultation.