Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

Many workers fear critical illness more than death

Nearly half of survey participants name “finances” as their greatest concern in case of a critical illness.
Nearly half of survey participants name “finances” as their greatest concern in case of a critical illness.

Nearly half of workers polled fear the financial impact of a critical illness more than dying from one, new research reveals.

Sun Life Financial reports this finding in a summer 2013 white paper on critical illness insurance, “Well-placed fears: workers’ perceptions of critical illness: What every employer needs to know.” Administered by Kelton Research, the online survey polled 4,116 full-time U.S.-based employees, the median household income and age of respondents being $51,000 and 43, respectively.

When asked to identify their greatest concern in case of a critical illness, 47 percent of survey participants named “finances.” That’s a significantly higher percentage than the third (29 percent) who flagged “dying” or the fifth (22 percent) who cited “the emotional burden.”

The report adds that middle-aged workers ages 40 to 50 are twice as likely to be more concerned with finances than with dying.

“While most workers [fear] the financial impact of a life-changing illness, the greatest proportion of workers who [feel] more concerned with ‘finances' than with ‘dying’ in case of a critical illness [work] in the transportation, utility, business/professional services or manufacturing industries,” the report states. “This suggests that employers might want to especially consider offering critical illness insurance in their benefit packages if they employ a large proportion of middle-aged workers, singles of all ages or workers in the transportation, utility, business/professional services and manufacturing industries.”

When asked which of the common critical illnesses most concerned them, half (48 percent) of all workers named invasive cancer; one third (32 percent) cited heart attack; and one-sixth (15 percent) pointed to stroke. The report also observed that more women (56 percent) than men (42 percent) flag invasive cancer as their most feared critical illness. And more than men (37 percent) than women (25 percent) indicate heart attack.

The report adds that two-thirds (66 percent) of workers made financial sacrifices to meet uncovered medical or non-medical costs associated with a critical illness. Among them:

  • 28 percent dipped into savings earmarked for future needs, including retirement;
  • 28 percent tapped emergency funds;
  • 21 percent borrowed money from family or friends;
  • 12 percent declared bankruptcy;
  • 11 percent sold or foreclosed on a primary residence; and
  • 11 percent borrowed from a bank or other lending institution. 
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