Cambodia Investment Review

Leader Talks: Dr. Sok Siphana on the importance of health insurance in Cambodia

Leader Talks: Dr. Sok Siphana on the importance of health insurance in Cambodia

Josh Downs

Infinity Financial Solutions, in partnership with BritCham and William Russell, hosted their ‘Roadmap to Recovery: How Insurance Saved my Life’ live talk with well-known Cambodian lawyer Dr. Sok Siphana. 

The event held at the Raffles Hotel in Phnom Penh gathered friends, family, and business associates of guest speaker Dr. Sok Siphana, in addition to members of the Cambodian ex-pat community.

The discussion aimed to educate both Cambodians and ex-pats on the importance of proper health insurance in Cambodia, as Dr. Siphana shared a very deep and personal story about his and his son’s simultaneous battle with cancer during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Mr. Paul Dodd, Director of Infinity Solutions hosted the event to remind ex-pats, particularly those from countries where healthcare systems are typically taken for granted, to ensure the correct policy is in place at the time you need it most.

“Sometimes my clients may have a bit of a grumble over value for money if they have not claimed in a long time – but insurance is not about the past, it’s about us not having a crystal ball to know what the future beholds – the only time you will thank your lucky stars that you have a form of comprehensive insurance is when you need it.” Mr. Dodd said in his opening remarks.

The importance of health insurance in Cambodia

No one in the room understood this better than Dr. Siphana, whose first cancer diagnosis was just one week before the lockdown measures started to roll out across the globe. 

After just one biopsy in Bangkok which resulted in a misdiagnosis, Dr. Siphana said doctors were trying to “pull out my teeth” for treatment by 4 pm on the same day. Refusing this dramatic course of action, he sought a second diagnosis in Singapore. 

This was a much less stressful ordeal noted Dr. Siphana, who went on to explain why having a choice of practitioner in these situations is vitally important.

“The radiation does affect your teeth, but in Bangkok, they wanted to do a ‘wholesale’ removal of my teeth. In Singapore however, they took the time to analyze which teeth to remove. If I had the operation in Bangkok, I’d be completely toothless by now.”

Dr. Siphana was then given a range of country and treatment options, including the option to undergo the latest Proton Beam Therapy in the Netherlands, however, due to the tight restrictions and the prospect of not being able to see his family, he chose to stay in Singapore. 

Dr. Siphana with participants from the audience.

Before his cancer could be brought into remission, Dr. Siphana and his family were struck with more devastating news. After two months of trying to get his 19-year-old son, Sammy, to return from his UK campus during the lockdown period, he finally arrived but with a limp. 

Sammy was sent to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh for an X-Ray, which was then circulated among Dr. Siphana’s practitioner friends in Europe. The consensus was bone cancer.  

“I was straight on the phone to my Oncologist in Singapore who reassured me that they had specialists that could help,” however, with strict lock down measures in place, Dr. Siphana needed special permission to access the country.

After some back and forth, Siphana and his family were granted the first cases of waiver to access the country. Sammy then underwent two rounds of chemo followed by four surgeries, which unfortunately lead to the complete amputation of his lower leg. After a long drawn-out battle, however, both Siphana and Sammy are now in remission. 

In addition to his abiding determination, inner strength, and continued support from his loving wife, Dr. Siphana attributed the success of his, and more so his son’s battle with cancer, to having the correct insurance ahead of the diagnosis, with the combined cost of both treatments amounting to nearly $600,000. 

Policy underwritten by William Russell and coordinated Infinity Financial Solutions

The policy was underwritten by William Russell and co-ordinated Infinity Financial Solutions, who not only sourced the best practitioners and treatments from around the world but jumped hoops to get him there at a time when unprecedented lockdown measures were in place. 

‘Maggie’ of William Russell, worked rigorously with Mr. Dodd to ensure that Dr. Siphana received every bit of financial support he possibly could throughout his journey. 

“I never got to meet Maggie, it was all online, but even despite this, I felt strong care for me on the other side of those emails. There is a big time difference between London and Singapore, but any time I sent an email, I would receive one no later than two hours after. This sense of care is extremely important in times of such distress,” said Dr. Siphana. 

Mr. Paul Dodd, explained the specialist broker who coordinated and guided Dr. Siphana throughout this tough time, told Cambodia Investment Review a little more about the origins of Infinity Solutions.

“I was working in financial services in Australia when the 2008 crash happened, there was little opportunity for me back home in the UK, so I decided to come to Cambodia. After realizing the need for better financial services for ex-pats, my boss gave me the green light to extend the business over here. 

The event held at the at the Raffles Hotel in Phnom Penh gathered friends, family and business associates of guest speaker Dr. Sok Siphana.

Speaking on his motivations, Mr. Dodd explained that the fulfillment he gets from educating others has become an integral part of his overall mission here in Cambodia.

“Being a part of this community, it’s not about what you can take, it’s about what you can give back. As the vice chairman of AusCham & BritCham, as well as sitting on the board of the International Chamber of Commerce, I get to organize so many events that bring together and educate individuals on a variety of subjects. 

Tonight was a perfect example, educating people on the cost of healthcare, and highlighting that in the event of a life-threatening illness or incident, not everyone has $600,000 in the bank to sort it. 

The common myth is that, as a western ex-pat, when you fall ill you will just fly home and get treatment; misconception. No airliner will fly you home because you’re not ‘fit to fly. So who is going to take care of you? That’s where we come in. That’s why we try to educate the community where we can, and tonight was a great example of that.”

He added “what makes our service special is that we are bespoke and can tailor make any insurance product that’s right for you, one size does not fit all. Most importantly is the support provided during a claim you can focus and get yourself fighting fit and we try to help are much as possible.”

To understand more about Infinity Financial Solutions’ health insurance options click here.

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