Dr Marius Barnard, the creator of critical illness insurance, was born in Beaufort West, South Africa. The son of a missionary, he spent most of his childhood in one of the country's most deprived areas. Despite this modest upbringing, his parents taught him and his brother Christiaan the benefits of knowledge.
Both brothers went on to study medicine and became heart surgeons. On the 3rd of December, 1967, he assisted his brother Christiaan in the first human-to-human transplant.
Interviewer: "And what's the patients condition now?"
Prof. Christiaan Barnard: "Very Well."
Dr. Marius Barnard: "We are doctors and we tried to save a human being's life and I don't think there is anything special about it."
Dr Barnard Video Footage
"As a doctor, I diagnose and treat patients and as I went through medicine over the question of twenty/thirty years, I saw tremendous changes. Not only the medical need but also in the financial needs of our patients. "
"The case that really triggered my ideas was a young divorcee, 34, with two young children. The X-rays and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of lung cancer and we removed a lump. She went home five days later and three weeks later she was back at work. Two years approximately after the operation, she came to me at my consulting rooms, basically dying on her feet. Pale, exhausted, loss of weight, skin and bone, gasping for breath, and I examined her and it was pretty obvious that she was now in the terminal stages of cancer. "
"Why should she come to my rooms? She can hardly walk, I can see her. She said ‘Doctor, I've come from work'. Now why was she at work? She needed the money. She needed money to provide for her children and herself, rent food, education. She died a few weeks later and when she was buried the life insurance policy paid out. Wouldn't it have been better for her to have the money when we diagnosed cancer? That poor little girl had to work until basically she was dead. "
This and many other cases like it made Marius realise there was a need for a new type of insurance - one that paid out on the diagnosis of illness such as cancer, heart attack and stroke. He shared this vision with an insurance company which then went on to develop the first critical illness policy.
Dr Barnard Video Footage
"You see it's really a marriage between medicine and insurance. I always say we, as doctors, are the ‘physical doctors', the protection insurance is the ‘financial doctors'. "
"If you are ill, the first person you'll go to, if you have a heart attack, will be your ‘physical doctor' but I hope at that stage you've already made provisions so that your financial health is in place. So when your physical goes you have financial protection to provide you with that money which is the promise of insurance and the definition of insurance to give you money when you need it most."