Understanding critical illnesses along with their treatment costs
Sourav was heading back towards his home after dropping his daughter to school. On his way back, he felt a pain in his chest and shortness of breath followed by dizziness. Before he realised what was happening, he fell on the ground and fainted. When his eyes opened, he was lying on a bed in a hospital. He had suffered a heart attack and had to undergo a bypass surgery. Luckily he survived.
As per a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, more than 12 lakh Indians lost their lives due to heart diseases in 2014 followed by lung diseases and strokes which killed approximately 10.5 lakhs and 9 lakhs people respectively.
Cancer took away 5.5 lakhs precious lives and other ailments pertaining to kidney, liver etc. took more than 6 lakhs lives. Approximately 5 million people in India fall prey to critical illnesses every year, equivalent to the population of New Zealand.
What Is A Critical Illness?
Serious illnesses and life threatening health conditions that not only adversely affect the health of an individual but also affect routine activities resulting in a serious loss of health and finances fall under the category of critical illness. Usually, insurance providers have a comprehensive list of ailments that are categorised as critical illness and it includes:
- Heart diseases
- Loss of speech, vision or hearing ability
- Organ failure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Severe burns
- Organ transplants
These are just an indicative of critical illnesses and will vary depending on policy providers.
How Much Does it Cost to Cure a Critical Illness?
An increasing cost of medical treatment in India has incurred high treatment cost for a patient diagnosed with critical illness and the person’s inability to work results in further loss of income increasing his worries.
The cost for treating cancer has increased by 3-4 times since 2000. Lung cancer which used to be treated in under 2 lakhs in year 2000 now requires approximately 5 lakhs, breast cancer which used to be treated for 1.5 lakhs now requires 6 lakhs to be cured. The cost of treatment of heart diseases ranges between 3-5 lakhs depending on the city you live in. The cost of treatment for other ailments has also increased proportionately.
Getting a Critical Illness Cover
Putting all your life’s savings to cure a critical illness is extremely painful and drains all your resources. Therefore, insuring yourself and your loved ones against a critical illness is strictly recommended. Critical illnesses usually do not fall under the umbrella of a normal health insurance which covers only the hospitalisation expense.
Technically critical illness and health insurance are two different things and ideally a person should have separate policies for both of them.
Primary wage earners of the family and individuals on the verge of retirement with no sufficient savings or pension must buy a critical illness cover for themselves.
The cover also has certain exclusions including certain congenital diseases, HIV etc. which need to be carefully examined before buying it. Evaluate your options and buy a cover that is suited for you and your family.