OLIVER TOMLINSON, general manager, JN Life Insurance, is urging Jamaicans to make critical illness insurance a part of their financial and estate planning. Tomlinson said the high cost of treatment associated with caring for persons with critical illnesses has impacted many families negatively, leaving many in debt.
Tomlinson explained that the need for families to invest in a critical illness insurance policy was paramount in light of a World Bank study which stated that in the average Jamaican household, if there is a member of the family diagnosed with a non-communicable disease (NCD), they are likely to spend a third of their disposable income on treating that ailment over time.
“When you examine the cost of healthcare locally, a serious illness that requires surgery can set back a family millions of dollars. Also, if the family member who is ill passes on, the surviving members may be left to foot the outstanding bills. These costs have placed many families in difficulty even long after their loved one has passed,” said Tomlinson.
“Many persons may say they have savings for such eventuality, but the money set aside is sometimes not enough. As such, a critical illness insurance policy can provide the cushion needed to undergo treatment,” he added.
The JN Life Insurance general manager added that with data from the Ministry of Health and Wellness revealing that one in three Jamaicans is hypertensive; one in eight is diabetic; and one-third of the population will be diagnosed with a chronic illness, more persons need to plan for illnesses.
“This reality that we face here in Jamaica makes it even more important to educate persons about financial planning, while ensuring that both healthcare and insurance are affordable to every family,” he stated.
Tomlinson pointed out that a cancer diagnosis could cost millions of dollars for treatment.
“Most cancer treatments run families more than a million dollars. If we should look at the cost for treatment of any of the three major illnesses associated with NCDs, cardiovascular illnesses, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, it runs in the millions. If we also consider illnesses associated with the spine or kidney, we are also looking at millions of dollars in treatment. Most Jamaican families find these costs prohibitive and therefore critical illness insurance policies are important,” he stated.
Tomlinson noted that while more persons were purchasing critical illness insurance policies, many persons were still hesitant because they believe it is costly. However, he advised that persons could start with a minimum monthly payment and increase their premiums as their incomes rise.
“Many people think life insurance premiums are costly. However, there are inexpensive policies available which offer coverage for an individual or family. I would urge Jamaicans to invest in a critical illness insurance policy that can protect them and their family from financial difficulties should a medical emergency arise,” he said.