Does Health Insurance Cover Liver Cirrhosis in India?

The liver is one of the most essential organs in our body. But, unfortunately, liver cirrhosis is rising at an alarming rate in India leading to greater demand for liver transplants. As per a report, about 10 lakh people in India are diagnosed with liver cirrhosis every year.

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    What is Liver Cirrhosis?

    Liver cirrhosis is an end-stage liver disease that leads to permanent damages to the liver. Also known as chronic liver disease, the healthy liver tissues are replaced with scar tissues in this disease that prevent the liver from functioning properly. It is a critical disease as it can be life-threatening.

    When a healthy liver cell is injured due to diseases and medical conditions, it leads to cell death and inflammation. The damaged cell is then repaired that results in scarring of the tissues. The scar tissues obstruct the blood from flowing through the liver leading to slow absorption of nutrients, hormones, natural toxins and drugs by the liver. Moreover, it also reduces the production of bile, protein and other crucial substances by the liver. Basically, liver cirrhosis does not allow the liver to carry out its functions that are essential for the body functioning.

    Liver cirrhosis comprises of two stages – compensated cirrhosis and decompensated cirrhosis. Besides, it leads to several complications such as portal hypertension, hypersplenism, liver cancer, liver failure, infection and malnutrition.

    Causes of Liver Cirrhosis

    Take a look at some of the causes of liver cirrhosis:

    • Consumption of alcohol
    • Hepatitis B & C
    • Fatty liver disease
    • Diabetes
    • Family history of liver disease
    • Liver cancer
    • Injecting drugs with shared needles
    • Unprotected sex

    In recent times, liver cirrhosis has become a lifestyle disease. With obesity and alcohol consumption one of the major causes of the disease, liver cirrhosis has become extremely common among people with poor lifestyles. In fact, liver cirrhosis is more common among the youth now. Unlike a decade back, liver cirrhosis is now mostly detected amongst people between the age group of 40 to 60 years.

    Treatment of Liver Cirrhosis

    Liver cirrhosis leads to permanent damages to the liver. No matter which treatment you take, liver cirrhosis cannot be reversed. Since it is the last stage of liver disease, it has already damaged your liver permanently. The only thing you can do is slow the progression of the disease with early diagnosis and take maximum precautions.

    The treatment of liver cirrhosis depends on its cause and the extent of damage to the liver. For instance, if liver cirrhosis is caused due to liver cancer, treatment may include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, etc. In case no treatment is possible, doctors will suggest you a liver transplant.

    However, getting a liver transplant is a costly affair. In India, a liver transplant may cost somewhere between Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 30,00,000 depending upon the medical procedure used. Given the high cost, most people are unable to afford a liver transplant. Without a liver transplant, a person with liver cirrhosis can survive for a maximum of 2 to 3 years after the onset of the complications.

    Fortunately, you can get the cost of a liver transplant covered with the help of a health insurance policy.

    Health Insurance for Liver Cirrhosis

    In India, health insurance plans provide coverage for liver cirrhosis. Since liver cirrhosis is a critical disease, it is covered by a critical illness insurance policy. For the unversed, a critical illness insurance policy provides a lump sum benefit in case the insured is diagnosed with a critical disease during the policy tenure.

    If you have a poor lifestyle or have a history of liver disease, you must buy a critical illness insurance policy in addition to your regular health plan. Critical illness insurance pays a lump sum benefit equal to the sum insured irrespective of the actual cost of the treatment. The benefit amount can be used to pay for the cost of the liver transplant along with incidental expenses incurred during hospitalization. It can also be used to substitute the income lost due to hospitalization.

    Some critical insurance plans offer a sum insured of up to Rs 2,00,00,000. However, a critical illness insurance policy comes with a waiting period of 90 days and a survival period of 30 days.

    How Can You Prevent Liver Cirrhosis?

    You can prevent liver cirrhosis with the help of the following precautions:

    Avoid regular consumption of alcohol.

    • Consume a healthy diet with low sugar, low fat and low rice intake. Eat high fibre food  & green vegetables and make sure you do not consume more than 1400 calories in a day.
    • Drink two cups of coffee every day to slow down the progression of liver disease.
    • Maintain your ideal weight according to your height. Do aerobics regularly or walk about 4 to 5 km every day to maintain your weight.
    • Avoid smoking as much as possible.
    • Keep your blood sugar levels in control if you are diabetic.
    • Take vaccination for Hepatitis B.
    • Avoid consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

    Summing It Up

    Liver cirrhosis is the 10th most common reason of death in India as per the World Health Organization. This makes it important for everyone to take all necessary precautions to avoid getting diagnosed with this chronic liver disease. In case you do get diagnosed with liver cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be the only alternative to adding a few more years to your life. Therefore, you must have a critical illness insurance policy that covers the cost of a liver transplant and protect you from a financial burden.

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