Lifestyles that kill us softly
A century ago, the average life expectancy of a human being was 46-years.
The primary causes of death were pneumonia, tuberculosis and enteritis. Until as recently as fifty years ago, most people who suffered a heart attack died of it.
How times have changed! The current life expectancy statistic stand at 76 years, which means people are living thirty years more than they used to. They die of lifestyle-related causes: Heart disease (29%), cancer (23%) and stroke (7%).
The world’s largest-selling medicine is Lipitor, a drug that lowers cholesterol - another lifestyle-induced ailment. Our lifestyles are killing us softly.
People survive longer only due to the progress of medical sciences. Today, there is a high probability that the victim of a heart attack will survive. Statisticians point out that a male who has just survived his first heart attack stands a 75% chance of living at least five years more.
A heart transplant recipient can expect to live ten years after the transplant. A person diagnosed with cancer has a 50% probability of surviving another five years, minimum.
But there’s a flip side to these advances in modern medicine, cautions Ashok Sardana, MD – Continental Group International, UAE.
As a certified financial advisor from the Chartered Insurance Institute of London, Sardana has been advising clients on a range of financial services for over 27 years.
Speaking on ‘Modern Medicine and its Impact on Financial Planning’ in Colombo recently, he said the high probability of a person surviving a debilitating illness raises questions about his subsequent earning capacity.
In the past, medical insurance and life insurance were adequate as bail-out policies. Medical insurance paid the hospital bills. Life insurance - subject to all those terms and conditions – provided an assured sum of money on maturity (survival) or to dependents on death.
“For most people, who have not been born with a silver spoon in their mouths, the ability to earn an income is about the most important asset.
The problem is: What happens if you suffer an attack that diminishes your earning capacity before your life insurance policy matures? Would you be unable to afford the lifestyle that you have been accustomed to? How would you afford expenses like home renovation or travel or whatever?” he asked
‘Critical illness protection’ provides insurance by paying a guaranteed lump sum amount. The insured person becomes eligible to apply for the amount upon first being diagnosed with any of the specified illnesses or being prescribed certain surgical procedures. These typically include heart attack, stroke, cancer and bypass surgery.
Premium is based on age, gender and physical condition of the insured: Typically, a male aged 35 would pay a monthly premium of US$ 140 per month for an assured lump sum of US$ 100,000. A 45-year-old man would pay US$ 230 for US$ 100,000. A woman would pay a premium of approximately 83% of that, reflecting the lower incidence of critical illnesses among the fairer gender, he said.