I recently went for my annual medical check-up. Yes, I’m getting on in years, but actually it’s a necessity at any age when you have a family history – as I do – of high cholesterol and heart disease.
It was mostly happy news. My cholesterol levels are currently really good (although I could do with more “good cholesterol”). Still, my doctor was stern: even though they are well below the national average, more and more doctors are recognising that maybe cholesterol is one of the areas where being average is not OK.
Statistics show that the average South African is bordering on obese, and medical claims records also show that more and more of us (Mr/Ms Average) are falling victim to one of the “dread diseases”. Typically these dread diseases are related to high cholesterol and heart problems. For the average 40-year-old man, the chance of contracting a life-changing critical illness by the age of 75 is about 55% (37% for women).
Part of financial planning is about asking the “what if” questions. Though you might be on a medical aid, you do need to ask what they would pay if you contracted cancer or had a significant heart attack. Yes, the medical aid will probably cover you for most of your hospital stay but what about after that? Most of us are members of “hospital plans” through our medical aids, and the minute we set foot out of the hospital all further payment comes from our savings accounts (effectively, from our pockets).
The last thing we need at a time like this is to find out that we can’t afford the treatment necessary to prolong/save our lives. Medical inflation is significantly higher than official inflation, and unless you have substantial assets to cover these medical expenses, it is probably a very good idea to take out some lump-sum dread disease cover that will pay out an amount at an event such as being diagnosed with cancer or suffering from a significant heart attack.
As with all things insurance-related, be pragmatic about this cover. It is not unheard of for financial advisors to upsell clients, since their commission is based on the size of your premium. Take the cover you can afford, and don’t be frightened into pushing that up. It is also a good idea to get a second opinion about the amount of cover you need – speak to friends/family who might have claimed under this benefit to find out about their experience and even consider chatting to your doctor about cover for these things.
(Gregg Sneddon, Health24, April 2011)