Opinion: Anuj Gulati
Easing the burden of CVD 
Friday, September 28, 2018

The exponential growth in socio-economic mobility is leading to significant changes in lifestyle across the country. This is applicable in both rural and urban areas and as a consequence also leading to a huge rise in Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs). 

CVDs generally come under the category of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). These are generally not curable and have to be managed for the rest of the patient’s life, even after receiving successful corrective surgery. This aspect has also made CVDs one of the biggest cause of death in the country and the world. In fact, now CVDs are affecting younger and younger segments of the population, agnostic of geography or social status. 

A quick analysis of data we have collected over the years, especially claims statistics, shows that of the total claims received, almost 15% are related to heart-related ailments. This number is rising steadily and has jumped an astounding 35% over the last five years. What’s more terrifying is that of the total claims for heart-related ailments this year, 40% were below the age of 50 years. This was just 23 % in 2013 – The number of younger people with heart-related ailments has almost doubled. And then almost a quarter of the people affected by the disease perish within a year of being diagnosed. 

The biggest reason for the exponential increase in heart disease-related deaths in India has been found to be one of two things – either the lack of access to suitable treatment or the inability of the patient to manage the disease after receiving the necessary surgery or treatment. 

The biggest hurdle to access is the cost of treatments. But despite this, more than 80% of Indians pay for healthcare out of their own pockets and do not have the necessary insurance. It is this aspect of the CVD that is wreaking the most havoc – While a relative may be suffering from the disease, the entire family becomes financially vulnerable.

CVDs and the extent of damage that they can potentially cause, has led to many insurers offering significant increased coverage for heart disease under Critical Illness policies, while some conditions may be covered under regular health insurance policies too. 

A few insurers also have structured policies which specifically cover heart diseases with very affordable premiums. These products go a long way towards enabling better treatment facilities due to their coverage and also increase awareness about heart conditions too. This World Heart Day, it is important to pledge to live a healthier lifestyle, and also to prepare for any adversity by securing yourself financially.

The writer is managing director, Religare Health Insurance. Views expressed are personal
 

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