Ekurhuleni News – 12th June 2023
Gap cover should be part of your financial planning no matter your age or life stage. It is never too early to start thinking about your financial future, because the sooner you start the more time you have to plan, save and invest. Effective financial planning is essential whether you are in your 20s, your 80’s or any age in between, and this does not just mean having retirement annuities in place. With the rising cost of medical treatment and increasing shortfalls in medical aid cover, medical expenses can easily become a burden, and while you are typically young and healthy earlier in life, accidents happen and the older you get, the more likely you are to need costly medical treatment. Gap cover has become a vital part of a comprehensive financial planning toolset, no matter what your current age or life stage is.
Every age and stage
When you are just starting out on your journey and you are young and healthy, it is easy to see medical aid and gap cover as unnecessary expenses. However, the reality is that accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age, and injuries related to sports and physical activity are also common in younger age groups.
Health issues related to stress are also on the increase, including anxiety and depression. In your 20s, you may also be getting married and thinking about starting a family, so maternity benefits become important.
As you enter your 30s you have all of the same considerations as in your 20s, with the addition of gastrointestinal issues and potentially the early signs of chronic diseases, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and prediabetes. Women may also experience reproductive health issues, such as irregular periods and fertility concerns, and increasingly breast cancer is being seen in younger women. Those who had children in their 20s may also start experiencing an increased need for visits to casualty as a result of accidents and illness in their children.
In your 40s you once again have the same concerns as in your 30s, with the addition of health concerns related to ageing, such as joint pain, back pain, and decreased mobility. Cancer becomes increasingly common as we age, and issues like hernias, kidney stones and gallstones are more prevalent. The need for maternity benefits starts to taper off, but children are getting older and more active, leading to more accidents and illness.
As you approach your 50s, there is an increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Muscular-skeletal issues like rotator cuff injuries and joint replacements become more common and continue to do so as you age. In your 60s there are more age-related health issues such as decreased mobility, cognitive decline, and an increased risk of falls, and further increased risk for chronic disease and cancer. As you approach your 70s and 80s, these issues are exacerbated and access to quality healthcare is essential.
The cost of healthcare
The unfortunate reality is that the cost of quality medical care continues to increase, and medical expense shortfalls as well as co-payments and sub-limits are becoming more and more common, at higher amounts. This can mean that any medical treatment, regardless of your age or life stage, can end up costing tens of thousands of Rands out of pocket.
These sums of money all add up and can put a serious dent in your financial stability. For example, we have a client who is 30 to whom we have paid out R315 682.61 in the past five years alone, another 47-year-old who has claimed for R208 594.27 over the past five years, a 64-year-old with claims totalling R351 933.39 and an 81-year-old with claims of R318 595.73. When you consider these are only from a few years, the out-of-pocket expenses over a lifetime could be in the millions, so investing in a gap cover policy early on is highly beneficial.
Finding the right policy to suit your needs
Medical expense shortfalls can and do occur at any age and it is best to protect your financial wellbeing by being prepared and adding gap cover into your planning. However, choosing the right gap cover policy is important. One thing to consider with gap cover is that once you are over the age of 65, premiums are charged at a senior rate and are a lot more expensive, whereas if you have been on gap cover from a young age, you may be able to take advantage of reduced premiums.
It is important to carefully review the terms and conditions of any Gap Cover policy to understand the lifetime benefit, as well as any other limitations or exclusions. Some policies may have restrictions on the types of procedures or treatments that are covered or may require pre-authorisation for certain services.
Investing in gap cover while you are still young and healthy can help you to build a strong foundation for your financial future and avoid the stress and strain of unexpected medical expenses. However, it is essential to choose a policy that meets your specific needs and budget, and to review the policy regularly to ensure that it continues to meet your needs over time. To protect your financial well-being as well as your health, it is always important to talk to your financial advisor about a gap cover plan that will suit your needs.
By Brian Harris, GM Operations at Turnberry
What is Gap Cover?
I have been with Turnberry since 2010. When my wife and I joined, we were only 28 years old and healthy. Life happened and 3 years ago I was diagnosed with a muscle disease. It took numerous tests and biopsies to determine the extent of the disease, as well as hospitalizations and surgery, which costs more than I could ever afford. I got into contact with Turnberry and after explaining my condition to them, they placed themselves in my shoes and gave me sound advice as to what they can do for me. I changed to the Optimal Plan, as the plan I was on when I initially joined was for a healthy 28-year-old. In the last 2 years, I have been hospitalized 3 times and I have been seeing 2 Neurologists. We know these things cost money and most medical aid plans (the ones I can afford) do not cover all of the above or just a percentage. I have received doctor and hospital bills after the medical aid contributions that caused my heart to skip a few beats. Turnberry’s Gap Cover saved me every time. The process of getting these bills paid is quick and easy, it’s as easy as sending a mail or WhatsApp, literally, that’s all it takes. I am pleased to say that Turnberry has had my back and will continue to do so with whatever life throws at me. Thank you to the Turnberry team. Dewald Human