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Do you carry a critical illness gene? Read this to protect yourself

Author: Amrina Alshaikh
by Amrina Alshaikh
Posted: Mar 31, 2022
critical illness

Though you don’t like to think about it, a key fact of life is that the unthinkable can happen to anyone at any time. Too often, one is under-prepared to meet the challenges of future medical crises. This article takes a look at why one must arm themselves with a critical illness policy for the future.

What does ‘critical illness’ mean?

Any illness that has the potential to turn fatal, or become debilitating enough for the sufferer to become disabled and/or unable to work temporarily or permanently, can be termed as a ‘critical illness’. Several cancers, end stage liver and kidney disease, severe heart disease, end stage muscle dystrophy or atrophy, or even illnesses arising out of neurological or diabetic disorders, may be classified as critical illnesses.

Do you carry the gene for one?

Though a critical illness may strike one regardless of age, social background, geographical location and health status, some people are more susceptible to critical illnesses due to:

  • Poor dietary habits – these can lead to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, liver damage, etc.
  • Consumption of alcohol and cigarettes – these can cause various forms of cancer, hypertension, heart and metabolic disorders, renal failure, neurological impairments, etc.
  • Genetic factors – those with a history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other hereditarily passed on diseases have a higher chance of developing these same critical illnesses in the future.

Though you may control the previous two factors, you have scant control over the third, i.e. genetic factors. You might unwittingly carry a gene for say, cancer, if generations of family members have got it in some form or another. Or you may be a candidate for heart disease if either of your parents suffers from it. It helps to investigate the family history of illnesses to be better placed about knowing if you are susceptible to certain critical illnesses or not.

What you can do to protect yourself

You cannot predict if you will develop a critical illness in the future. Not every person who has had an older family member develop some serious disease contracts the same. At the same time, you may develop a critical illness even without a genetic predisposition to it. In either case, you have no way of knowing if a serious disease looms on the horizon or not. At best, you can be mentally and financially prepared to meet it if the unthinkable happens.

Treating a critical illness is a high expense in India. General healthcare costs for treatment and surgery are already high, and treating a serious illness that may take years to fully cure, can stack up bills amounting to lakhs of Rupees. Your income and savings might not be able to support the expense, and hence, you must invest in a critical illness policy.

A critical illness policy is a health insurance plan that pays the insured a lump sum amount of money upon a confirmed diagnosis of a critical illness. This pay-out helps the insured individual to start treatment without delay, and to seek the best healthcare for their condition.

However, the policy clearly indicates which critical illnesses it can pay money for. Not each and every serious illness is included, so you must read the policy document to know more. The best critical illness policies in India include up to 27 serious diseases and illnesses. However, some general exclusions are:

  • Injuries or illnesses arising from participating in dangerous sports or activities
  • Injuries or illnesses arising from self-harm or suicide attempt or substance abuse
  • Illnesses related to HIV or AIDS
  • Mental health disorders

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Author: Amrina Alshaikh

Amrina Alshaikh

Member since: May 23, 2019
Published articles: 71

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