At the start of 2012 all seemed to be going well for Kemi Thomas and her family. Their first child had just gained admission into a university, her husband’s business was beginning to turn around after a difficult year and they had finally completed their own home and recently moved in; it seemed like it was going to be a good year.
In April, Kemi noticed a small but palpable lump on her left breast. Her doctor referred her to a teaching hospital and a biopsy confirmed that she had breast cancer.
Kemi had surgery in May at a cost of N100,000 to remove the lump and she is now having a course of chemotherapy which is costing her N35,000 each week. 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 N100,000 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. Before the end of the first year, her illness had gulped N1.25 million and the costs kept piling up.
Members of Kemi’s extended family rallied round as best they could but the exorbitant costs over a prolonged period of time made it impossible for them to continue to contribute as they had done in the early stages of her treatment. Her husband had no choice but to put their new home up for sale to release badly needed funds to try to save her life. Their finances were being quickly depleted.
As October, “breast cancer awareness month” draws to a close, it is important for us to spend a little time focusing on this dreaded disease. Most people tend to overlook the financial implications of a serious illness. In our society it is seen as tempting fate to even consider the possibility that one could become really ill let alone the fact that one could die.
A key message for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United Kingdom is that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Without being absolutely certain of statistics here in Nigeria, it is clear that it is becoming more and more prevalent and provides us with another reminder about the importance of having health insurance in place that can help you access the health care you will need if you are diagnosed with a serious illness.
Whilst this will give you a better chance of survival, it is important to note that it is largely prevented through a healthy lifestyle with an appropriate diet, regular exercise and early detection through breast examinations and regular screening that improves ones chances of beating the disease. Encourage your loved ones to do the same.
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 becomes 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. 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 woes.
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 will cover at least some of the costs of treating the insured person’s illnesses or injuries. Some policies will pay 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 buy an individual health insurance policy for yourself and your family directly from an insurance company. You then pay premiums to purchase coverage and the insurer is obliged to pay some or all of your health care costs, based on the terms of your contract. Health insurance varies significantly from plan to plan.
As morbid as it might sound, can your loved ones afford to lose you? Can your family or dependants pay for the funeral, organise the family finances, service any outstanding debt and continue in their current standard of living? Or, would they face extreme hardship in the event of the d**th of their breadwinner? The main objective of life insurance is to replace income that will be lost should the policyholder become incapacitated or die.