Although COVID-19 has caused utter devastation for hundreds of millions of people across the world, we cannot forget that the risk of dying, becoming critically ill or being suddenly disabled can have an equally negative impact on our lives.
To get to the heart of this issue, one really needs to focus on just that…the heart. According to the 2020 claim statistics from Momentum Life Insurance, cardiovascular-related claims make up the most death claims and do so almost every year.
When it comes to cardiovascular diseases and strokes, people often associate these diseases with men, and in fact, they are generally right. According to Momentum’s stats, cardiovascular issues are a leading cause of deaths for men whereas cancer is the leading cause of death claims for women.
George Kolbe, Head of Marketing for Momentum Retail Life Insurance says, “This can be supported by Momentum Life statistics indicating that cardiovascular/heart disease was the main cause of death claims for men at 28%. Of these, 69% were caused by a heart attack.”
Facing the reality of cardiovascular risk
According to the World Health Organisation, 27.4% of men and 26.1% of women in South Africa suffer from hypertension, although other sources even estimate this number to be closer to one in every three adults and even up to 60 percent of the population. The reality is that every single person suffering from hypertension carries increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Kolbe believes the real tragedy behind heart attacks and strokes is the fact that they can be prevented to a large extend. “Simple lifestyle changes including diet, exercise and knowledge of one’s health status can provide the prevention many people need but are simply not implementing into their lives.”
This view is supported by statistics from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) which indicate that up to 80% of heart diseases and strokes could be prevented through modified behaviour such as choosing to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, maintaining a non-smoking status and avoiding excessive alcohol intake.
Kolbe says people tend to forget that a cardiovascular disease or stroke can fundamentally disrupt and forever change a family’s entire ‘infrastructure’ dynamic in an instant. This once again emphasises the importance of comprehensive risk cover.
You may need more than a medical aid to cover expenses
Advances in medical care mean that people can now survive illnesses once thought to be fatal. Kolbe says, “Although many people lead relatively normal lives after suffering a critical illness event, you may require financial assistance to cover any lifestyle changes or extra costs not covered by your medical aid.”
He says the problem starts with out-of-hospital expenses and chronic medication and typically medical aids don’t cover cutting-edge experimental treatments. Heart diseases and stroke can leave you with a huge financial burden, even if you’re on a relatively good medical aid. “This further highlights the desperate need for further critical illness cover,” advises Kolbe.
Health is not guaranteed but comprehensive cover can be
Kolbe concludes, “Critical illness benefits allow clients to protect their lifestyles by funding the cost of changes to their lifestyles or additional expenses incurred as a result of a critical illness event. This could include anything from adjusting their homes’ infrastructure to accommodate a wheelchair ramp; to hiring an au pair to look after the children.
As life is unpredictable and without any guarantees, it is vital for people to have comprehensive critical illness cover in place.
Having the right cover in place ensures that your financial responsibilities are taken care of in the event of you suffering a critical illness, disability or death. It replaces the income you would have earned during your working life, helping to ensure that you and your family are financially secure.”