I’ve got good news and bad news. Which one do you want first?
I agree. Let’s get the bad news out of the way.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 2 out of 5 Canadians – that’s 46% of men and 41% of women - are expected to develop cancer during their lifetimes.*
The good news?
Although the number of newly diagnosed cancer cases in Canada has increased, survival rates are also on the rise. In fact, between 1992–1994 and 2006–2008, survival rates increased from 56% to 63% for all cancers combined.*
Each and every one of us knows someone who has been effected by cancer. In my own circle, there are several and recently, more and more of them are my own age. Every participant in this past weekend’s CIBC Run for the Cure, had a story. Some of survival and some of those who bravely lost their fight. Cancer has surely had an emotional and psychological impact on society.
But what about its financial impact?
I don’t think I’d be revealing any well-kept secret here if I said our healthcare system was stretched to the breaking point. While medical advances have meant that a critical illness - such as cancer - is less likely to kill you, it also means that more sick people are left relying on a system that cannot keep up with the demand.
If you have Disability Insurance, you will likely receive a monthly income if you get sick and have to take time off work. After all, the purpose of Disability Insurance is to provide you with a portion of the income you were making before you became disabled to help cover your living expenses after the fact.
However, the living expenses for a sick person are not the same as those for a healthy one.
Trips to the doctor, specialist appointments, medical equipment, experimental treatments, and other expenses to truly help you “live” can add up and may not be covered by your health plan.
The Canadian Cancer Society has several links on their website which specifically address the financial burden faced by cancer patients. For example, the ‘Transportation’ tab is designed to link volunteers with patients needing to get to and from appointments where the costs of doing so themselves (i.e.; gas, parking, taxis, etc.) has become overwhelming. The site profoundly states, “The road to recovery needs more drivers…”
Similarly, we’ve all heard stories of people who were forced to dip into (or even deplete) their retirement savings while dealing with a major illness. We’ve also seen entire communities rally around a sick neighbor, raising funds to help pay for the various medical expenses associated with their condition. While it is inspiring to witness the goodness in people when someone is in need, it must be difficult for a normally independent person to accept the charity of their peers and have their financial hardships on display for the whole world to see.
In the early 1980’s, a South African surgeon – Dr. Marius Barnard – identified a frightening trend among his patients who had suffered a critical illness and who did not have sufficient financial resources in place. In almost all cases, the financial stress contributed to the rapid deterioration of their health. Watch his full story at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OOUiBLkAZQ.
He subsequently approached the insurance industry and said, “We need a product that provides money to people who survive a critical illness so they can focus on getting well.” The insurance industry agreed and thus, Critical Illness Insurance (CI) was born. It really was that simple.
Classified as a “Living Benefit,” CI provides a tax free, lump sum amount to an insured person who is diagnosed with a critical illness and survives (normally for at least 30 days). It is available on a standalone basis or can be part of a group plan if your employer chooses to add it. Most policies cover at least the four most common conditions: heart attack, stroke, coronary artery by-pass surgery and life threatening cancer. However - in an effort to compete - insurers have added as many as 29 additional conditions to their policies and many offer optional return of premium, second opinion and early detection benefits, as well.
As with any product, there is a fit for every need and budget out there. I truly believe what you ultimately decide upon is not as important as having some protection in place. It’s about making decisions today – while you are healthy - that will put you in control when sickness starts taking choices from you.
Ultimately, the real benefit of CI is not the money, but the freedom it gives you to focus on what really matters: Your health.