Managing director, Old Mutual Nigeria Life Assurance Company, an affiliate of Old Mutual Limited, Mr. Keith Alford, has urged Nigerians to adopt Critical Illness Insurance Coverage to cater for their hospital expenses when suffering critical illness.
Access to quality healthcare, according to him, is one of the most important factors for living a life of quality and one of the most critical human needs in the world today.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) survey that shows access to healthcare is often times the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa where residents have to pay out of their pocket for medical expense, he added that the average spending on health per person in Nigeria is valued at N78,000 of which N57,000 is out-of-pocket and a paltry N12,000 coming from Government assisted healthcare management initiatives.
The current economic downturn and the resultant reduction in purchasing power, he said, have combined to make access to adequate health care a distant dream for Nigerians, noting that 90.2 per cent of Nigerians cannot afford to pay for medications for their ailments.
“What this means is that, for the average Nigerian, an unexpected health challenge can cause major financial disruption leaving one with healthcare bills they often cannot afford. This problem can be further worsened if the ailment diagnosed is a critical illness, which globally involves very costly medicare, due to the extensive examinations, rare medications and prolonged complicated treatment process,” he pointed out.
He listed the critical ailments to include; Stroke, Cancer, Heart Attack, Coronary Artery Disease, Hepatitis, Chronic Liver Disease, Chronic Lung Disease, Kidney Failure, Multiple Sclerosis, among others, adding that, despite these shocking reports and the fearsome outlook for critical illness in Nigeria, in terms of severe financial exposures, these can be proactively mitigated through the financial protection which insurance policies provide specifically for critical illnesses.
According to him, “We understand that close to 90% of Nigerians lack Health Insurance, leaving 9 out of every 10 Nigerians completely exposed to the huge and harsh financial impact of contracting any critical illness. We know that critical illnesses such as Cancer, Heart Attack, Stroke, Kidney, and Liver diseases are eternally lurking in the corners and can spring on us without warning.”
Stating that the desire of Old Mutual is for any patient who has any of the critical illnesses to concentrate his or her will power to full and speedy recovery rather than double the grief with the financial burden for the expensive treatment, he added that the Old Mutual insurance cover for critical illnesses would be taking the responsibility for all the financial requirement, whilst the patient devotes self to the healing process, saying, this is the least every hardworking Nigerian deserves.
Critical Illness Plan of Old Mutual Assurance, he said, is an insurance product in which the insurer is contracted to typically make a lump sum cash payment if the policyholder is diagnosed with one of the specific illnesses on a predetermined list as part of an insurance policy.
The implication, according to him, is that if one is to be diagnosed with or undergoes a medical procedure for any of the specified critical illnesses that the insurer covers during the length of the policy, lump sum cash will be paid to take to take care of the medical bills.
For the Old Mutual Critical Illness Plan, he added that the Minimum entry age for this type of policy is 18 years while the maximum entry age is 67 years. While the ceasing age is 70 years, the policy term spans from 3-15 years, even as the cover amount ranges from a minimum of N500,000 to a maximum of N30 million.
Alford opined that mainstream adoption of Critical Illness Cover remains the best weapon to be deployed against the deadly critical illnesses in Nigeria, as early access to the right treatment is known to significantly improve the chances of survival for the patients.