Many of us in finance have noticed the synchronicities of its issues with health. Medicines, like financial products, are used to solve a particular problem that a person suffers from. The diagnosis is a skilled job that keeps in mind many other issues that may be unrelated to the pain in the head at first glance. The relationship is based on the patient trusting the doctor for his professional skills and due diligence. The retail financial market is similar. For instance, the problem of solving just one financial issue, while ignoring the rest of the financial life, leads to bad outcomes.
Have you tried firing your koora wali (garbage collector)? Or move to another presswalla (guy who irons clothes in the neighbourhood) in the same locality? Most Indian cities (may not be true of the relatively new gated bubbles of Indian suburbia) have a system where there is an informal ‘right’ of a person or a family to a certain set of houses for some informal services. And usually, it is not so easy to replace them, because they ‘own’ the right to service it. In a way it is their ‘asset’.
Is your wealth adviser actually an adviser or just a distributor? The answer to that question is important for your long-term financial health. Don’t think it is important? Then do you think chemists should put out boards proclaiming that they are doctors? In our heads, the difference between a doctor and a chemist is very clear. A chemist sells medicines that we ask for over the counter, either on the basis of a prescription or over-the-counter drugs that are available without the need for a prescription. Who writes the prescription? The doctor. The doctor is much better qualified as compared to a chemist, and has spent years learning and then practicing the profession. When you present your medical problems to the doctor, she will ask some questions, may conduct some tests and then come up with a diagnosis that is specific to your medical condition.
Did you know that you get different rates for the same surgery if you go as an uninsured person, or if you go with your own cover or if you go with a group cover? Rates vary across insurance firms as well. I had heard of it, but had not got proof in my hand. Last week, I bumped into a neighbour who is scheduled for a minor surgery. He went to a big south Delhi corporate hospital chain and asked for an estimate. He presented his individual policy since he was not sure his group policy was valid as he was between jobs. He got an estimate of Rs1.16 lakh. Then he found out that his office policy was valid after all. Returned a day later to ask the same question on estimate, but this time presented his group policy. The estimate was Rs 69,300. I have both the documents with me. The individual policy was from a private stand-alone health insurance company and the group policy from a public sector insurance firm.