New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Severe illness – compromising quality of life

Severe illness – compromising quality of life

2022-12-08  Staff Reporter

Severe illness – compromising quality of life

The sudden emergence of the pandemic was devastating, and almost overnight, many Namibians became acutely aware of the fragility of life. This reality suddenly brought into question whether we would be able to sustain our quality of life due to the potential long-term effects of the disease. 

For those with some form of health insurance or life cover, the “knee-jerk” reaction was to fervently unearth their life policy documents and medical aid schedules to peruse the fine print and benefits, and to inundate insurers with queries. Some clients were left reeling to discover that they were either not covered, or under-covered. 

The pandemic brought into perspective a pertinent issue - the lack of cover for the ‘Big 4 illnesses’ - cancer, stroke, heart attack and coronary bypass - which are much more common across society. 


Illness insurance 

Illness insurance covers the insured person who suffers from and meets the requirements of a qualifying severe illness, as confirmed by a medical officer. The insurance pays out if you have a severe illness following the standardised critical illness definitions. These illnesses include cancer, heart attack or stroke, and many other diseases that could affect your cardiovascular, central nervous, gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. There is also cover for endocrine diseases, HIV/AIDS, sensory systems, trauma, lifestyle and autoimmune diseases. 

A severe illness may carry a high risk of mortality, or may negatively impact your quality of life and daily function. There are functional impairments related to severe illness that also qualify under the premium protection functional impairment benefit. The severe illness cover benefit will pay a percentage of the cover amount that
depends on the severity of the severe illness if the insured person suffers a severe illness, and if any relevant survival period is met. 

Old Mutual’s Illness Insurance pays a single tax-free amount from N$100 000 to N$6 million if you have a severe illness. This payout can be used to cover rehabilitation costs, travel expenses to treatment centres, modifications to your home or car, and day-to-day expenses while taking time off from work to recover. 


How does it work? 

With the help of a financial adviser, choosing the right cover for serious illnesses can be smoothly facilitated in three quick and easy steps: Choose your cover, such as Old Mutual’s Illness Insurance. Enrich your coverage by opting for extra benefits such as Top-up, Mild Illness, Child Illness, For Women or Returning Illness Benefit, and;

Choose your add-ons such as Cashback* or Premium Protection, which come at an extra cost.



So, why don’t people opt for Illness Insurance? The first myth is that you only need it when you are older, such as in your 50s and older. However, Old Mutual’s claim statistics for 2021 observe that in men, we see claims from the age of 22, and for women from the age of 20. It is safe to say that anyone at any age can be afflicted with a severe illness. 

Many young adults under the age of 25 are students, or in entry-level occupations with low-income thresholds. Therefore, customers may elect to take out Illness Insurance for their adult children so that the child will be the insured person, but the parent will be the owner and premium payer.

The second myth is that medical aid pays for all costs. Medical aid cover pays specifically for the treatment of medical conditions, and payment is mostly subject to annual payment limits. Gap cover is intended to provide cover towards the shortfall of treatment costs not covered by your medical aid, and was specifically designed to supplement your existing medical aid cover. 

Illness insurance plays a different role. It helps you take care of your financial responsibilities while you are busy focusing on recovery. These three complement each other, and can all fit into your financial plan.


How much do I need?

There is no exact science when determining what level of cover you would need, but a reputable financial adviser will be able to assist you with a full needs analysis. Having a well-informed partner to help you navigate the financial and administrative complexities of the financial services industry is indispensable.

In the case of illness insurance, the adviser will consider for example your age, general health status, and lifestyle factors to predict how much you may need. It is also prudent to factor in your quality of life at the time of diagnosis, during treatment and recovery, and post-recovery, when deciding on the quantum of cover you may require.

Ideally, in consultation with your financial adviser, you should ensure that your severe illness cover increases annually in line with inflation so that the value of your benefit will not reduce over time and that if you ever need to claim, your payout has held its value in real terms. 

In the event of a big health emergency such as cancer, a heart attack or a stroke, your Illness Insurance could be the only thing standing between you and financial ruin. Many people assume they’re fully protected with a standard health insurance plan. However, with the exorbitant costs of treating life-threatening illnesses, it is also important for a customer to have medical aid, gap cover and illness insurance incorporated into their plan since they all serve a different purpose and work differently when you’re diagnosed. 

*Stefan Stander is the general manager for the retail affluent segment at Old Mutual Namibia.

2022-12-08  Staff Reporter

Share on social media