By now, most people know at least someone who has battled cancer in their lives – and there’s a good chance you might get it, too.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 49% of Canadian men and 45% of Canadian women will develop the disease during their lifetimes. While medical advances have resulted in an ever-increasing number of people beating the illness, the road to recovery can be difficult – and expensive.
One Canadian Cancer Society report found that many patients do incur substantial out-of-pocket expenses related to their care, travel to and from hospitals, accommodations if treatment is out of province, drugs bought at a pharmacy, and for younger adults, increased childcare costs. A number of other expenses could add up, too.
Many patients do incur substantial out-of-pocket expenses related to their care, travel to and from hospitals, accommodations if treatment is out of province, drugs bought at a pharmacy, and for younger adults, increased childcare costs.
Lost work wages are also a big one, especially for those who don’t get disability payments. If you’re making $100,000 a year and suddenly can’t earn that amount, then you could quickly find yourself racking up debt.
There is a way, though, to protect your finances if you are stricken with cancer, says Heather Clarke, Investors Group’s vice-president of insurance services.
“It’s called Critical Illness Insurance coverage and it can help you maintain your financial equilibrium if you have to take time off work to recover from a critical illness,” she says.
Critical illness works just like other kinds of insurance. You make payments when you’re healthy, but if you do get sick then you’ll get paid a non-taxable lump sum.
While it pays out for a number of different life-threatening illnesses, including heart attacks and strokes, those with cancer make the most claims. According to a report by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, since 1994, 68 percent of all critical illness insurance claims have been for cancer-related diseases.
Payout amounts can vary wildly depending on your monthly payments and how much money you think you’ll need to get you through these difficult times, but it’s in the first few months following a diagnosis when you’ll likely need the money most.
“Those first few months are always tough emotionally and physically in terms of trauma and expense,” says Clarke. “That’s when the benefits of critical illness insurance really kick in.”
There is a 30-day waiting period after diagnosis before the lump sum gets paid, but once it’s received you can use it any way you wish.
“Pay your medical bills, replace lost income, pay your mortgage, hire a nurse or caregiver, or even retrofit your house or vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair or chairlift,” says Clarke. “The choice is yours.”
This kind of insurance can be useful for small business owners, too.
“It can help cover business loans, everyday expenses and even hiring interim staff replacements while you recover,” she says.
If cancer does strike, critical illness insurance can help you focus on your recovery instead of being distracted or defeated by the extra costs.