Bless your heart!

Sakal Times
Sunday, 1 October 2017

However, the good thing is that we see an increased awareness with respect to living healthy. Many people are becoming conscious of their eating habits, taking simple steps like avoiding fried food, opting for healthier oils and even increasing exercise/ walking/ cycling trends

On World Heart Day, we look at the most important aspect of a heart surgery — the financial planning

India is the cardiovascular disease capital of the world. Every minute, four people succumb to the disease. As per World Health Organization, between 2010-2015, the instance of heart disease has increased by 32 per cent among people who are less than 40 years of age, and 2.6 million Indians will be afflicted with heart ailments by 2020.

However, the good thing is that we see an increased awareness with respect to living healthy. Many people are becoming conscious of their eating habits, taking simple steps like avoiding fried food, opting for healthier oils and even increasing exercise/ walking/ cycling trends.

Of course, this is a very metro phenomenon. We need to invest in educating and spreading wider awareness of the perils of heart disease and the necessity of living healthy lifestyles among the masses.

When one is diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, finance is an important aspect of the treatment. Keeping this in mind, we spoke to Anjali Malhotra, chief customer marketing & digital officer, Aviva India. Excerpts from the interview...

The first thing that causes more heartache than the physical pain is the cost of heart surgeries...
Heart surgeries in India are far cheaper than those performed in other global markets. However, health care benefits, unlike in more developed nations, are nonexistent in India. Most of the patients end up paying from their own pockets due to lack of sufficient medical cover. Hence, specialised products which help people overcome the financial burden incurred in times of such critical illnesses are the need of the hour.

What is the role of financial planning in heart care?
Heart disease and other critical illnesses involve high costs. They not only involve hospitalisation and surgery/ treatment but there is a significant portion of cost on the pre and post operative care too. In addition, the patient is unable to work during the recuperation period leading to loss of income. Hence, the entire family’s lifestyle gets impacted.
It is imperative that people start adequate planning, such that
a) the family can afford the treatment and
b) maintain the family expenses, in the event of such eventuality.

Can Indians cope with medical emergencies related to heart ailments?
India is an under-insured country, be it life or health insurance. Majority of individuals still rely on company-provided basic health insurance which is generally not adequate to deal with the treatment of a critical illness — either due to insufficient cover and/or exclusions which people may not even be aware of, till the nth hour. Dr Naresh Trehan of Medanta, said that he finds bulk of his patients under-prepared to take the high cost of treatment associated with hear ailments. Data suggests that 80 per cent of medical expenses are out of pocket. It is imperative that people be educated about these facts in order to arm themselves with adequate insurance.

How can they be educated to manage such medical emergencies?
People need to be educated to mitigate the impact of the lifestyle disease epidemic. It will require the government, media and the private industry to collaborate and create awareness, at all levels of society. We conduct regular medical camps for our employees where they are educated on benefits of maintaining good health. We also spread awareness among our customers and masses at large, about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The Aviva Heart Care communication, which ran across TV, print, digital media, focused entirely on advising people to lead heart healthy lives.

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