Almost half of all U.S. workers are more afraid of going broke from a critical illness than dying from one.

Those are the findings outlined in a new white paper released by Sun Life Financial on critical illness insurance, “Well-Placed Fears: Workers’ Perceptions of Critical Illness.” Researchers surveyed 4,116 full-time U.S.-based workers with a median age of 43 and median household income of $51,000.

When asked to identify their greatest concern in case of a critical illness, 47 percent of survey participants named “finances.” Only 29 percent of those surveyed named “dying” as their greatest fear, and only 22 percent cited the emotional burden as their biggest concern.

Here are a few of the key findings of the white paper:

  • Half of all workers, especially women and younger workers, cite cancer as their most dreaded critical illness.
  • Most workers age 40 to 50 fear the financial impact of a critical illness more than they fear death, especially single workers, single women, and single parents.
  • Most workers in the transportation, utility, business/professional services, and manufacturing industries fear the financial impact of a critical illness more than they fear death.

Why do they fear financial crisis more than death?

Out-of-pocket healthcare costs continuing to skyrocket. Wages stagnating and even falling in some cases. Employer-sponsored health plans increasingly requiring workers to pay a bigger share of their medical costs. It’s not hard to understand why the financial impact of a life-changing illness is such a big fear.

Most people simply can’t afford medical care without insurance. And they know that a critical illness without insurance coverage could mean bankruptcy. Even with good health insurance coverage, a significant health condition such as cancer, heart attack, or stroke can drain a significant chunk of money from your savings. In some cases, it can even cost you your home.

Here are a few more findings from the study: 

  • Over one-third (36%) of workers believe they have critical illness coverage, when industry estimates suggest that under 5% of the U.S. workforce actually have critical illness insurance coverage.
  • Tapping emergency funds or dipping into long-term savings were the most common financial sacrifices made by workers who experienced a critical illness.
  • 12% of workers who experienced a critical illness declared bankruptcy and 11% lost their homes.

What does this mean for your clients?

Use this data to educate your individual clients. Offer a disability insurance / critical illness insurance combo solution to alleviate the #1 fear of going broke from critical illness. Disability insurance maintains workers’ incomes during periods of disability so they can continue to maintain their lifestyles and pay for their health benefits. Critical illness insurance provides a lump sum benefit upon diagnosis to help the insured cover expenses such as co-pays, deductibles, in-home care, childcare and more. With both coverages in place, workers can finally have some assurance that they could financially survive critical illness.

Encourage your employer clients to look at the demographics of their workforce. If their employee base contains a significant number of women, workers age 40 to 50, or singles, do current benefits address those employees’ real fears? If not, HR decision makers and benefits brokers might want to reevaluate the plan and consider offering critical illness insurance and/or guaranteed standard issue disability insurance on an employer-sponsored or voluntary basis. Many workers would likely be interested in exploring ways to increase their financial security in case of a critical illness.

Let DIS show you how to increase your disability insurance quotes by adding critical illness insurance to your suite of solutions. And, to learn more, download our free report, “Critical Illness Insurance 101.”



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