Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 23rd 2015 Contents There was a time when
banks were banks, insur-
ance companies were
insurance companies and
credit unions were credit
unions. You knew what to
expect when you approached one.
But in the fight for market share, defin-
ing lines have blurred. Services thought
to be the exclusive preserve of one or the
other are now regular features on each
others list of products.
The PSCU (formerly Public Service
Credit Union) Credit Union, for example,
offers a major medical programme to its
members, an offering that is largely the
preserve of insurance companies. Major
medical is a form of health coverage that
can be bought by indivuduals who do not
have access to it through an employer.
Typically, it covers those "big" medical
care expenses, such as surgeries.
The programme caught the eye of the
Sunday BG and we decided to ask the
credit union more about it.
"We saw a need for the medical plan so we
could better service our members," said Renaldo
Williams, health plan officer, "Apart from
offering financial coverage for members, there
is also that benefit of health. One famous
slogan is your health is your wealth. If you
are not in good health, you would not be able
to enjoy your wealth. It also put the credit
union a cut above the rest as we were the first
to have the medical feature."
The programme started in 2009, with the
credit union s employees being the first to sign
up and, eventually, it was expanded to include
the rest of the credit union s membership. At
the time, the credit union s management began
talks and settled on insurance company, Sagi-
cor, to create and underwrite a major medical
programme suited to its members.
This membership, according to Williams,
is mixed and evenly distributed among younger
and more elderly population segments. They
are not only public servants, said Williams,
as he sought to correct a popular misconception
about the organisation.
While the credit union s younger member-
ship may gravitate towards loan facilities, such
as that for vehicles, Nequila Atherley, customer
service manager said it was important for
young people to protect their health while it
"We really do encourage people to look at
the importance of it at the end of the road,"
said Atherley, "Even if you are in good health
now, a lot of things can happen. People are
getting unexplained illness at a younger age.
We try to encourage them to still see the
importance of joining and covering themselves
because good healthcare is very expensive."
Offering healthcare at competitive rates to
members was one of the main reasons the
programme was started. It offers coverage
starting at $184.75 for a single applicant and
up to $448.75 for a family application.
Coverage includes an international medical
card, a $300,000 major medical benefit
renewable every three years, allows claims
for dental, vision, maternity, psychiatric treat-
ment, surgeries, ambulance and hospital
usage, as well as features group life, accidental
death and dismemberment and a benefit for
members who contract HIV after the fact.
Being able to afford healthcare will become
increasingly important. Throughout his term
as health minister, Dr Fuad Khan has warned
repeatedly of increasing rates of chronic non-
communicable diseases, such as diabetes and
cardiac conditions, particularly among the
country s young.
He indicated that the enlarged numbers
were putting a strain on T&T s health infra-
structure and that many may not be able to
access public facilities in a timely fashion
because of oversubscription.
The credit union s major medical also fea-
tures a pre-existing condition benefit, where
applicants can claim up to a lifetime max-
imum of $1,000 to treat pre-existing con-
"There is no upfront medical criteria," said
Williams, "You are asked to fill out an enroll-
ment form. There is also a group health state-
ment, as well as some questions about your
health. You answer them as honestly as you
Wilfred Holder, the Sagicor agent who
assisted with the setting up of the programme,
told the Sunday BG there were checks and
balances to ensure new applicants did not
take advantage of the programme and try to
slip past with pre-existing conditions,
attempting to pass the diseases off as acquired
after the fact.
Participation in the programme requires
membership in the credit union for at least
three months, although Williams said some
adjustments are being made to this criteria
and that, currently, people are allowed to join
the major medical plan as long as their chil-
dren are members of the credit union.
The latest one can join the programme is
59. Coverage lasts until the age of 99.
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt AUGUST 23 • 2015
Source: Central Statistical Office,
Population and Vital Statistics,
the T&T Ministry of Health
Health Report Card, 2011
Medical in a major way
Credit union expands services
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