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Money Matters with Nimi: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late to Prepare for Health Emergencies

In our society, it is seen as a taboo to even consider the possibility that one could become really ill, let alone the fact that one could die; it is even seen as tempting fate.



October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and there is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the dreaded disease. We tend to take this disease for granted until it happens to someone we know or worse. Even with breast cancer becoming more and more prevalent, many neglect to take steps for early detection, which provides greater chance of survival.

Pray for good health, but you can also put things in place to support at least some of the unexpected costs of a serious illness. A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, but equally devastating is not having the means to pay for it. One nasty illness can decimate an entire lifetime of saving and investing.

Naturally, no one wants to prepare for an illness, because it almost seems as though you are tempting fate. However, things happen and it is important to be realistic and proactive. In our society, it is seen as a taboo to even consider the possibility that one could become really ill, let alone the fact that one could die; it is even seen as tempting fate. Yet statistics indicate that breast cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide; for every eight women in the U.S., one will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. I wonder what the statistics in Nigeria indicate.

Far too many people ignore the need for insurance until a major mishap or setback occurs; it is only then that the impact of inadequate insurance coverage is glaring. No matter how meticulous you are with your finances, failure to purchase adequate insurance can impair your financial future and put you or your loved ones in a desperate situation.

At some point in time you might need to call upon some form of insurance. Whilst insurance will not eliminate the risk of loss or damage to property, injury, illness or death, it does relieve the insured of at least some of financial losses these risks bring. The cost of coverage of all these scenarios is far lower than if you were to have to service them, when they arise.

Health insurance varies significantly, from plan to plan. Generally, most plans will cover a combination or hospitalization, prescription drugs, and treatment for serious illnesses, but only up to a limit. Dire medical conditions are difficult enough to cope with; if you become ill, the last thing you need to have to worry about is mounting financial challenges.

Can your loved ones afford to lose you or would they face extreme hardship in the event of the serious illness or death of their breadwinner? The main objective of life insurance is to replace income that would be lost should the policyholder become incapacitated or die.

Critical illness cover was never intended to replace health, life or disability insurance. Instead, its purpose is to fill the gap in existing medical insurance coverage to pay for illness and specific kinds of treatment not ordinarily covered by traditional insurance. It is designed to ease the financial pressures that may be created by severe or terminal illnesses. By paying a premium, the insurance company will cover the treatment, if you become seriously ill or totally disabled as a result of illness.

In Nigeria, critical illness insurance is typically purchased as an extension to a life insurance policy. The concept behind this is to make adequate finances available to the afflicted policyholder for treatment should a critical illness occur rather than wait till after the demise of the individual before the full sum assured is paid to dependents.

How well do you know your health history, family health history and patterns? Are you at a high risk for a disease that might require lots of testing and monitoring? Do any of the female members of your family have breast cancer or has anyone died from it? If your family has a pattern, there may be a chance you will require medical insurance at some point. Do not wait till then. Plan now. Most policies are priced based on the age, gender and family history.

The biggest constraint that affects timely treatment of any ailment is usually the non-availability of funds. For most medical treatments, cash payments need to be made immediately on treatment. If you are insured and produce your valid card at an accredited hospital, you will usually be treated. Even though health insurance may not cover your entire bill, it will pay a significant part of it. Just knowing that this is in place, should you ever need it, will give you peace of mind.

It’s not all about you; it’s about your family. Health insurance helps to ensure that you and your family are protected against the financial hardships that may result from health care expenses. By paying a small amount of premium the whole family will be covered. Without health insurance, you may not be able to afford their medical care when you need it. You can take out a policy for your parents and loved ones that depend on you, that do not have the means to cope with such expenses.

Knowing that you are covered, you can confidently go to a hospital before the condition worsens and becomes too expensive to treat. Without insurance, people tend to resort to self-medication often ignoring some serious underlying conditions which can get out of control.

Some companies offer regular medical check-ups as part of the insurance plan; this supports early detection and helps prevent a major illness.

Without a health plan, you may be forced to seek care at poorly equipped and over crowded hospitals, without the capacity to give you the care that you need.

Since breast cancer is a disease that affects so many women, everyone should make sure that they have regular screening to improve their chances of early detection. Early detection, through regular mammograms and clinical breast exams, provide the best chance of survival. Take the necessary precautions, protect yourself by having an early detection plan in place and encourage the women in your life to do the same.

If you don’t have the necessary insurance cover, make this one of your financial priorities before the end of this year. Don’t forget to read the fine print and understand your coverage to make sure it will actually provide the necessary coverage should you ever need it.

Living a life without insurance is one of the greatest risks of all. Too many of us ignore the need for health insurance until a crisis happens, by which time it is often too late. Don’t wait.

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