Childhood illnesses are part and parcel of parenting, from colds and other viruses to ear infections and respiratory diseases like croup. For the most part, these illnesses are mild, and while they may be distressing, do not cause lasting harm – either physically or financially. But the reality is that not all childhood illnesses are as innocuous. A diagnosis like cancer, a congenital condition or even an unfortunate accident, could result in ongoing hospital treatment, and as a result, significant medical bills. When it comes to taking care of children, the last thing any parent needs is to worry about whether or not they can afford the right medical care. Gap cover has become a critical insurance policy to ease some of the burden in the event that the unthinkable happens.
The big C
Childhood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma and soft tissue sarcoma are generally caused by environmental and genetic factors. They are not the result of lifestyle choices, and as such there is nothing that can be done to prevent them. According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA 2021), between 800 and 1000 children in the country are newly diagnosed with cancer every year. A disturbing two-thirds of these children never reach a specialist treatment centre. Cancer requires ongoing treatment over a period of months or even years, which can become a heavy financial burden.
Aside from cancer, which may develop at any time during childhood, many children are born with certain medical issues. These are called congenital defects, and again may require extensive medical treatment. Some examples are club foot, which generally requires surgical intervention, and cleft palate, which may require multiple surgeries as well as physical and speech therapy. Some children may be born with heart defects, which again require surgery to correct. There are also a range of genetic conditions that may affect children, the most well-known of which is Trisomy 21, also known as Downs Syndrome.
The financial burden
When a dread diagnosis is made, no parent needs the added stress of wondering how they are going to fund the expensive treatments their child requires. In addition to the medical expenses, severe childhood illnesses that result in ongoing treatment and lengthy hospital stays mean that parents need to take time off work. Hospitals require that an adult be present with a child during their hospital stay, but how does a parent continue to earn an income during this time?
Quite apart from illness and congenital problems, accidents also happen, from broken bones and cuts that need stitching, to unfortunate events that result in more severe damage. The severity of an accident obviously affects the length of a hospital stay and the treatment required, but the upshot is similar to a critical illness. Parents are left with a financial burden of medical expenses, as well as potentially the need to take time off work to be with their child in hospital and to help them recover.
No room for gaps
Parents want to be able to give their children the best treatment they can, and the thought of not being able to afford this can be devastating. Gap cover offers an ideal solution to help ease this burden.
Choosing the right gap cover policy can help parents to ensure that they are covered for a range of medical expense shortfalls, from surgical to anaesthetists, specialists and more. Gap cover also helps to cover the penalties associated with making use of a non-designated service provider (DSP) hospital or doctor, and the co-payments that are often linked to specific types of diagnostics and treatments. Gap cover policies may also offer a counselling benefit to make sure that parents are able to look after their mental wellbeing and that of their children. The policies also offer a casualty benefit to cover those unforeseen visits to the emergency room after hours or on weekends and holidays.
While no insurance can possibly lessen the blow of receiving a dread diagnosis for a child, it plays an important role in covering additional costs and protecting the financial wellbeing of a family. It is one way to reduce the stress and ease the pressure, so that parents can focus on what matters – getting their child the help they need.
Consult your financial advisor
It is always advisable to consult your financial advisor to ensure that you have the right “fit” of a Gap policy to align with your Medical Aid and to provide the level of cover you and your family require.
About Turnberry Risk Management Solutions
Founded in 2001, Turnberry is a registered financial services provider (FSP no. 36571) that specialises in Accident and Health Insurance, Travel Insurance, and Funeral Cover.
With extensive experience across healthcare and insurance industries in South Africa, Turnberry offers unsurpassed service to Brokers and clients. Turnberry’s gap cover products are available to clients on all medical aid schemes, as they are independently provided and are therefore transferable in the event of a change in the client’s medical aid scheme.
Turnberry is well represented nationally, with its Head Office based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg with Business Development Managers in Cape Town and Durban. The Turnberry Team’s focus on outstanding client service comes from having extensive knowledge and experience in the financial services sector and is underwritten by Lombard Insurance Company Limited. Lombard Insurance Company Limited is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP 1596) and Insurer conducting non-life insurance business