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Don’t Take Breast Cancer for Granted

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October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. It provides an opportunity for us all to focus on this dreaded and devastating disease and its impact on those affected by it. Breast cancer is becoming more and more prevalent yet whilst many people are aware of the disease, many neglect to actually take the steps to try to detect it in its early stages, when there is a much greater chance of survival.

Most people tend to overlook the financial implications of a serious illness. 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 often seen as tempting fate. Yet statistics indicate that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mary Johnson regularly checked her breasts so in late August 2017 she could tell that all was not well. She immediately visited their family doctor. He referred them to the teaching hospital and a biopsy confirmed that she had Stage three aggressive breast cancer. Mary and her husband Deji had been planning to subscribe to a family Health Insurance scheme but had not got round to it.

Mary had surgery in September at a cost of N250,000 to remove the lump and she is now receiving treatment including chemotherapy which is costing the family 400,000 each month. She will need six sessions in the first instance. She will require a second operation in due course, followed by radiotherapy for which a down-payment of N300,000 is required. Beyond this she is told that she will require treatment for at least five years for ultrasound scans, blood tests, kidney and liver function tests, chest x-rays, and so on; some of these will have to be repeated.

Members of Mary’s extended family rallied round as best they could but now the exorbitant costs over a prolonged period of time have made it impossible for them to continue to contribute as they did in the early stages of her treatment. Her husband has had to put their new home up for sale to release badly needed funds to try to save her life. They have also had to withdraw their children from their current school and have settled for a cheaper option as their funds are running out.

How healthy are you? If you or anyone in your family were to ever become gravely ill, can you afford the best medical treatment available? Do you have health insurance in place? Health insurance covers some of the cost of treating the insured person’s illnesses or injuries. In some cases, it pays for preventive care, such as annual physicals and diagnostic tests. You may have health insurance as an employee benefit from your job or you may also buy individual health insurance directly from an insurance company. You then pay premiums to purchase coverage and the insurer is obliged to pay some or all of your healthcare costs, based on the terms of your contract.

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 in an instant.

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 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.

It is imperative that you read the fine print and understand your coverage just make sure it will actually provide the necessary coverage should you ever need it.

Critical illness cover is a relatively recent addition to the life insurance industry. It 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.

We all pray for good health. Whilst you can’t plan for cancer, you can be prepared for some of the unexpected costs of a serious illness. A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, but equally so is not having the means to pay for it. It is important to be realistic and proactive. The truth is one nasty illness can decimate a lifetime of savings and investing. Nothing is more important than early detection through regular mammograms and clinical breast exams.

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 if they do indeed arise. If you don’t have the necessary insurance cover, do make this one of your financial priorities before the end of this year.

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