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Doctor’s Appointment: Financial Planning is part of being health conscious and proactive

Published:Wednesday | May 4, 2016 | 12:05 AM

Critical illnesses - such as cancer, heart attack or stroke - can strike without warning, leaving you and your loved ones with bills to pay that can often run into the millions of dollars.

"Based on our research, the first rounds of treatment after a diagnosis can cost a victim up $1.6 million, and that's a conservative figure," said Anntonette Cowan-Palmer, National Commercial Bank (NCB) Insurance Sales Manager.

With this in view, Cowan-Palmer and her team sought to refresh the NCB Insurance ProCare critical illness product, which now offers customers up to $5 million in protection coverage.

"Treatment is expensive, but the truth is there are worst things than being diagnosed with a critical illness, like the indignity of knowing that you have to beg friends and family for monetary assistance because you are unable to afford healthcare," she added.




The average Jamaican who is diagnosed with cancer is uninsured or underinsured, and is unable to find the huge sums needed to ensure timely and thorough treatment.

Preparation is key and it is important to put things in place that allows one to fight any of these illnesses.

"Cancer affects everyone, and until there is a cure, we must protect and empower our people to fight against it. A part of financial wellness includes having a critical illness plan that better prepares you for that tough conversation should in fact you're faced with an illness," Cowan-Palmer shared.

She noted that unlike other plans in the market, ProCare offers the following benefits:

- $1,500 toward your second month's premium

- Hassle-free benefits

- No medical required to sign up

- Simple payment from your NCB account

Though cancer is pervasive, Cowan-Palmer notes that heart attack and stroke affect a large number of Jamaicans.

According to data from the World Health Organization, published in May 2014, both stroke and heart disease are the top causes of death in Jamaica, numbering one and two, respectively.

Stroke deaths in Jamaica reached 3,243 or 18.13 per cent of total deaths for the aforementioned year.

Cowan-Palmer cautions against the belief that these critical illnesses are conditions that only affect the aged or unhealthy.




"Well, most of us are of the view that cancer, heart attack and stroke were conditions that affected those in old age. But this has never been further from the truth ... . Critical illness can happen to anyone. And more and more, we're seeing younger customers receiving payouts to fund cancer and stroke treatments. You're talking 31 and 34 year olds with breast and lung cancers; men and women alike," she said.

ProCare covers nine critical illnesses, which include cancer, heart attack, stroke, paralyses, deafness, blindness, loss of speech, coma and major burns.

Dr's Appointment's TV show host, Dr Sara Lawrence, will continue to stress the need to be proactive about your health. This includes regular visits to your doctor or the nearest clinic, not ignoring the warning signs that your body gives you, as well as putting proper financial preparations in place. Not having enough money for any illness will only make you feel more incapacitated.

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