Climate and Health

Although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health like clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Moreover, extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, particularly among elderly people. In the heat wave of summer 2003 in Europe for example, more than 70 000 excess deaths were recorded (UNEP, 2004, March). Noticeably high temperatures also raise the levels of ozone and other pollutants in the air that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

Globally, the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s. Every year, these disasters result in over 60 000 deaths, mainly in developing countries (WHO, 2017, July). Relating to the rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather events particularly will destroy homes, medical facilities and other essential services. More than half of the world’s population lives within 60 km of the sea (Creel, 2003, September). And people may be forced to move, which in turn heightens the risk of a range of health effects, from mental disorders to communicable diseases. Increasingly variable rainfall patterns are likely to affect the supply of fresh water. A lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increase the risk of diarrheal disease, which kills thousands children aged less than 5 years, every year. In extreme cases, water scarcity leads to drought and famine.

Floods are also increasing in frequency and intensity, and the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation is expected to continue to increase throughout the current century. Floods contaminate freshwater supplies, heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes. They also cause drownings and physical injuries, damage homes and disrupt the supply of medical and health services.

In addition, climatic conditions strongly affect water-borne diseases and diseases transmitted through insects, snails or other cold blooded animals. Changes in climate are likely to lengthen the transmission seasons of important vector-borne diseases and to alter their geographic range. For example, climate change is projected to widen significantly the area of China where the snail-borne disease schistosomiasis occurs (WHO, 2009). Malaria is strongly influenced by climate. Transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria kills over 400 000 people every year – mainly African children under 5 years old (WHO, 2017, April).

To sum up, climate change normally affect all populations, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living in small island developing states and other coastal regions, megacities, and mountainous and polar regions are particularly vulnerable. Children, in particular, children living in poor countries that are among the most vulnerable to the resulting health risks and will be exposed longer to the health consequences.

Reference

Ottmar Edenhofer, R. P.-M. (2014). Summary SPM for Policymakers.

UNEP. (2004, March). Impacts of Summer 2003 heat wave in Europe. Environment Alert Bulletin.

Organization, W. H. (2017, July). Climate change and health. Media centre.

Creel, L. (2003, September). Ripple Effects: Population and Coastal Regions. Population Reference Bureau.

WHO. (2009). Climate change and health. WHO representative office China.

WHO. (2017, April). Malaria. Media Centre.

8 Strong Reasons to Buy Your Own Health Insurance Cover Right Now

Wealth Protection is an area often neglected in lieu of Wealth Creation. Without an iota of doubt, Wealth Creation by doing smart investments is definitely important. But what use is it if there is an imminent risk of losing all that you created over your life time – in a span of, say, a few months?

Health Insurance is one such aspect of Wealth Protection – where most of us feel that either we are already protected enough by our company group insurance policy, or God will always be too kind on us and nothing is going to happen to us while we are in our prime age. Can we be further away from truth? And all of us see and hear enough examples around us everyday, which contradict this basic assumption of ours. Just closing our eyes is not going to make the risk vanish. A smart wealth creator, like a smart project manager, manages the risk of health by ‘adequately’ covering this risk associated with it. Cover your risk before it is too late.

It was a sever heart attack. He was fortunate to have survived. He is 31, my ex-colleague, working in an MNC in Gurgaon, and highly successful – or seemingly so. He has a beautiful daughter and a very caring wife. All his 3 arteries were more than 70% blocked. Bypass was the only option. When he came home, his corpus was down by 25% – this in spite of having a group insurance policy from his employer. Other than the emotional setback as well as lifelong constraints on his lifestyle habits, it is going to take him another 4 years of hard work – just to claw back his portfolio to where it was prior to this incident. You may say he was unlucky. No. He was not a smart portfolio manager. A smart manager will always cover the risks to his or her portfolio.

And if after reading this, you have been thinking that it may have happened with him because of his workplace stress, and that you don’t take that much stress at your workplace, let me tell you that the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the water you drink have become toxic enough to cause such, and many more dangerous diseases even if you are leading an absolutely stress free life. It is unfortunate, but true that we are living and consuming such toxicity. Who will be the next one – is just a matter of chance.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst – that is how we used to plan our projects. that is how exactly you ought to deal with your life. I sincerely hope you lead a healthy and prosperous life, but I earnestly urge you to be prepared in case of any such eventuality -for it is a definitely reality in our so called developed world.

Here are 8 strong reasons you must buy your own health insurance policy at the earliest, irrespective of your age or your existing cover:

1) Avoid stringent tests

If you think, you will save some money and take a health insurance cover only when you cross the age of 50, then please be aware that after 50, almost all health insurance companies subject buyers to a slew of medical tests before selling them a health plan. And once you undergo a battery of tests at that age, it is quite likely that you will be discovered with some minor, if not severe, anomaly. Each such anomaly is going to load your premium, apart from the physical pain of undergoing all the tests. You can avoid all these tests if you buy your health insurance policy earlier. Any pre-existing diseases are automatically covered in such a case. Any diseases diagnosed later will be covered – without any additional premiums.

2) Pay lower premium

Health insurance premiums are quite low when the age is less. The lower the age group, the lower the premium. And premiums go up only if you move across age groups. At 25, a plan with Rs 5 lakh coverage would cost you around Rs 8000, at 35 you’ll have to shell out around Rs 11000 and at 45 the cost rises to Rs 18000. So buy it as early as possible to book the policy at the lowest possible premium.

3) Accumulate no-claim benefits

Even if you remain healthy – which we should all hope for – with every such no-claim year, the extent of your medical cover increases. Buying early means you are likely to have more no-claim years, allowing you to accumulate the benefits over time.

4) Get access to cheaper and hassle free online buying

At a young age, you can buy a decent enough health insurance policy online. The online policies are cheaper. Many insurers are not willing to sell online if the buyer is above 50. You will not be able to avail of the ease of online purchase if you wait too long.

5) Your employer cover is just not sufficient

With exponential increase in healthcare costs, the need for health insurance cannot be overstated. Check the cost of a week’s hospitalized for a regular illness and then compare it with your company’s coverage. Most likely you’ll be persuaded to buy a cover immediately. Still not sure? Think about when you grow older and might need more frequent medical attention. What about if you are asked to leave the company – a harsh reality today? What about the period in between two jobs? You ought to cover all these risks to protect your portfolio.

6) Avail Sec 80D Tax benefits over and above Sec 80C benefits

Buying your health insurance early also means better financial planning. You save tax for paying the premium. Under section 80D, you can potentially save taxes upto Rs.40,000 annually. If you take these tax benefits into account, the cost of a health insurance policy is not prohibitive considering the protection you enjoy.

7) Overcome the Waiting Period

When I quit IBM and took financial freedom, I bought a private health insurance policy – just to realise that I have to undergo a waiting period of 2 years for specific treatments. And, as fate would have it, my wife had to be operated for one such disease during this 2 year period. Who paid? I did. Do not do the same mistake that I did. Do not wait to buy a health insurance policy till it becomes a definite necessity.

When you buy a health plan, you have to serve several waiting periods-for certain surgeries, special treatments, pre-existing illness coverage, etc. If you buy it now, when do not need it immediately, it would mean you would have served the requisite waiting periods and be able to claim all full benefits later.

8) Cover your ‘to be born’

Today’s health insurance policies covers much more than just hospitalization. New health plans cover you for day care procedures and OPD, not just serious hospitalization. Even vector borne diseases are covered. Most plans also have maternity benefits, which may be relevant at this stage of life. Also, your new born will be covered from birth without any additional premiums.

As with wealth creation, taking action early works with wealth protection too.