How Wills, Trust and Health Insurance Can Save Lives

By Gbolahan Oluyemi

In the past years, there has been a sharp rise in diagnosis for major diseases. The development led to an increase in the need for organ transplants by patients suffering from these diseases.

The dwindling medical equipment in public health institutions, systematic migration of health professionals and incessant strike action by public health care workers also worsened the situation.

Other than the institutional problems, most patients usually experience three common challenges when diagnosed with major diseases.

First is the availability of funds to cover the cost of medical treatment. Second is the availability of organs in cases where an organ transplant is required, and the last is the availability of necessary equipment and health care professionals with the needed expertise.

Amid these challenges, subscribing to health insurance, the existence of a health Trust fund and a growing Will writing culture are three tools that can save lives.

One major benefit of health insurance is that it guarantees access to health care irrespective of the current financial status of the patient.

Asides from guaranteeing access to health care, health insurance can indirectly prevent the prevalence of major diseases. This is because most people ignore health symptoms and self-medicate.

This act is attributed to either failure to prioritize health indicators, the cost associated with healthcare or in some cases, the preference for herbs.

Cost-free healthcare under health insurance will encourage people to seek help regarding their symptoms and enhance the early detection of diseases.

Further, health insurance absorbs a substantial part of the treatment cost in cases of major disease and may also cover post-treatment health expenses.

Another salient benefit of health insurance is that it protects patients from medical inflation. The cost of medications is rising, especially when there is a pandemic or increase in the number of persons contracting such disease. Health insurance ensures that Patients do not have to bear the brunt of inflation.

Lastly, reputable Health Insurers/HMOs educate their enrollees.

I personally use Leadway Health and I have been periodically educated on topics such as mental health, COVID -19 Vaccines and Aerobics vis-à-vis my health. This is in addition to the access to qualitative healthcare I enjoy being an enrollee.

Some patients also encounter difficulty in raising funds for their treatment. Sometimes, critically ill persons are constrained to seek financial help on social media platforms. Some patients are unlucky and may be unable to raise the needed fund till their demise.

From experience, Nigerians like to donate to such a life-saving cause. However, the activities of fraudsters and gain seeking individuals discouraged potential helpers from donating.

From experience, these doubts are reoccurring in the minds of donors when invited to support an unknown critically ill person.

The donor’s confidence will be boosted by setting up Charitable Trust with a reputable Trust company regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The Trust is funded by public donations and administered for the benefit of critically ill persons strictly on the recommendation of Medical Directors of designation public health institutions.

The residue of the fund can also be applied towards buying critical equipment for public health care institutions. Given the flexibility of Trust, the Corporate Trustee can on certain terms assist in seeking credit to fund pending treatments pending the receipt of donations.

If such an arrangement is in place, financially challenged ill persons will be referred to the Corporate Trustee for disbursement.

However, there is a need to have an organization saddled with the responsibility of publicizing the Trust and encouraging voluntary contributions to the Trust by the members of the public.

Will writing can also be used to save lives, especially regarding the donation of body organs and tissues for transplant. Before now, Nigerians were only accustomed to donating their chattels, shares, money and landed property in their Wills.

However, section 55 of the National Health Act expanded this by allowing persons to donate their body organs and tissues through a Will or document executed in a similar manner.

Every person who is competent to write a Will, may in the Will or a document signed in the presence of at least two (2) competent witnesses donate body organ or any specified tissue to be used after his/her death for training, health research and advancement and most importantly for therapy, including the use of tissue in any living person or production of a therapeutic, diagnostic or prophylactic substance.

This simple act of writing a Will and donating body organs can save lives and make organs available to many for transplant. However, this process should be with the guide of a Medical Practitioner.

This is to ensure the donated organ is timely removed and preserved for use. A Will takes effect from the death of the testator (i.e. the person writing the Will). At death, these organs are no longer useful to the deceased, but they could save a life, can keep a breadwinner alive, keep the candles of hope burning.

Putting good use to health insurance, Trust and Will writing can save numerous patients deprived of treatment due to lack of funds or unavailability of funds. These days, the people are losing confidence in the ability of the government and its institutions to guarantee affordable and qualitative health care.  Hence, people must be creative and explore other alternatives to staying alive.

I am available for a discussion on how health insurance, Trust and Wills via [email protected]

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