Sanlam’s 2023 claim statistics for sickness and disability show more than 60% of claims came from clients under 45.

Sanlam said it paid out R10.7 billion in claims across both Sanlam Group Risk and Sanlam Risk and Savings including 21896 claims.

Sanlam said a notable trend in its 2023 risk and savings claim statistics was the prevalence of claims from younger clients, particularly in the areas of sickness and income protection.

“Two-thirds of sickness and disability income claims came from individuals younger than 45.

Additionally, more than half of all severe illness claims (57%) were for clients younger than 55; for women this was 70%. “62% of disability claims came from people younger than 55, in their prime working years; for women, this sits higher at 70%.

“In 2023, Sanlam paid R5.5 million for C-sections as part of its cover for pregnancy complications under the sickness income benefit. Payment for pregnancy complications under its sickness income benefit have been increasing annually,” Sanlam said.

For women, there was also marked increase in sickness income claims for accidents and injuries, with a high number coming from people aged 26 to 45, Sanlam said.

Across all Sanlam benefits, cardiovascular incidents were the biggest cause of claims at 18%; followed by cancer at 15%; then respiratory illnesses at 12%; and accidents, violence, and injury at 12%. These four accounted for 57% of all claims paid.

Dr Afifa Titus from the #Keready doctors youth campaign said there were several likely contributing factors to illness among younger people.

“Covid-19 played a big role, because of the long lasting complications on people’s respiratory systems. We’ve seen an increase in respiratory infections. The Covid-19 pandemic in many cases weakened the immune system when it comes to the lungs, along with other risk factors, like smoking, working environment, for example a mine setting, or in an area where they are exposed to fumes on a daily basis — weakens the lungs. Flu and RSV infections were quite intense this year.

“Lifestyle diseases also play a big role. Young people often go to fast food, like takeaways that are easily accessible, which causes diabetes. If not controlled it could go even further and lead to stroke and heart attack,” said Titus.

“Youth also tend to not want to seek healthcare because of stigma attached to going to a clinic, standing in long queues.”

She said preventive healthcare included checking blood pressure, sugar levels, exercise and healthy eating, as well as practising safe sex.

Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) spokesperson, Zukiswa Zimela added that the food environment in the country had changed, which contributed to a rise in lifestyle diseases.

“80% of our food is either processed or ultra processed. South Africa is seeing an increase in obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases like diabetes, and heart disease. You cannot outrun an unhealthy diet. Young people are heavily affected, statistics show 31.3% of 15 to 19 year old females and 9.6% males of the same age are obese,” said Zimela.

She said the situation required a multi-pronged approach, starting with the regulation of marketing unhealthy food products.

Article credit Most sickness, disability claims come from clients under 45 – Sanlam (