Having the Right Protection:
There are times when even the best combination of advanced medical science and the practitioner's skills can do nothing more for a patient. Sometimes the only advice is "go home and spend the time you have left with your family and friends".
But when one of his terminally ill patients said to him "no Doctor. I can't afford not to work. There must be something you can do to help me get back to work," eminent South African heart surgeon, Dr Marius Barnard, looked to the insurance industry for an answer.
Dr Barnard, who assisted his brother Dr Chistiaan Barnard in the first human to human heart transplant operation, was distressed to find in many cases he could increase quantum of life, but without the ability to earn an income, the patient's quality of life was destroyed.
He found that while savings and investments were usually the first funds to go to keep patients' families afloat, in many cases homes or businesses had to be sold to pay off loans that could no longer be serviced.
"Traditional life insurance was no help here, as it is only payable on the death of the insured person. And increasingly, medical conditions that would have been a death sentence in the past, such as heart attack, stroke and cancer, were now responding well to enhanced treatment methods," said Dr Barnard. "It was very important for me to try to find a solution to help my patients."
Dr Barnard lobbied long and hard to get life insurance companies to consider releasing a proportion of the life insurance payout on diagnosis of a serious medical condition. From these beginnings he developed a breakthrough concept in insurance cover - critical illness or trauma insurance, which first became available in the early 1980s.
With Dr Barnard's personal involvement, critical illness insurance became available in Australia soon after its invention in South Africa. Most life insurance companies now provide the cover, which generally pays a lump sum diagnosis of any one of a range of serious medical conditions, including heart attack, cancer, stroke, paralysis, Parkinson's Disease, renal or liver failure.
Since its introduction, nearly one million people in Australia have recognised the advantages of having this type of cover, which provides a financial security blanket at a time when no one needs the additional stress money worries usually bring with them.
The lump sum payout can be used however the person chooses. Some people elect to pay off debt. In Dr Barnard's words, "if you have a heart attack, would you rather lose your house or your mortgage?" Others use it for a much-needed holiday. Still others use it to keep their professional practice or business open and operating, applying the money to employ a locum or manager while they are recuperating.
"When we first developed the product, my objective was to make sure that the people who really needed the protection had access to it. We are now seeing the situation where, for example, a diagnostic test shows a person with elevated enzyme levels, which in technical terms means they have a heart attack. But that person may not have suffered any noticeable physical symptoms. Because of this very early identification of the condition, chances are the person will have no permanent damage, and in fact may well be back at work within a couple days. I think it's fair to say that this person is not going to suffer financial hardship because of their medical condition, so I don't believe it's reasonable for them to expect a windfall from their insurance," said Dr Barnard.
At Advantage One we have access to a range of Risk products which can be tailored to your particular circumstances. We provide a complete review of your Risk needs and make written recommendations (with appropriate explanations).
Andrew Venning, Director, Risk Management
Source: Lumley Life