Take a Closer Look at Illness Protection

May 19, 2016

Sometimes, in an effort to reduce their health care costs, companies eliminate voluntary employee benefits such as vision, dental, disability, and critical illness coverage.  But, when it comes to critical illness coverage, they may want to reconsider.

Americans suffer 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes each year. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, and accounts for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths1.   So, critical illness coverage is an important part of any employer’s benefit offering to its employee population.

In addition, employers should not undervalue the effect these benefits have on employee morale.  A report from financial research organization LIMRA International showed that 71 percent of employers believe that voluntary benefits improve worker morale and satisfaction, a 13 percent increase since 2010.

Most everyone knows someone who has had cancer, a heart attack or a stroke and has seen first-hand the financial impact, even with medical insurance. Many employees may fear that they won’t be able to pay their deductibles or coinsurance payments, especially if they are facing lost income because they are unable to work. In particular, employees enrolled in high-deductible health plans may worry they do not have enough saved to cover out-of-pocket expenses following a major health issue.

Critical illness plans are designed to improve employees’ financial security and peace of mind by providing a cash benefit – typically between $5,000 and $40,000 – to help employees and their dependents cover medical and living expenses following a major illness. Often, critical illness plans also provide additional resources to help patients manage their health, including a case manager and additional information about exercise and nutrition tailored to their condition. These resources mean employees may get back to health—and work—more quickly.

According to LIMRA International, more than one in four private employers with at least 10 employees now offers critical illness benefits to their non-union workforce, a rate which has more than doubled since 2002. By helping employees feel secure about their financial and physical health, employers may be able to reduce turnover, increase productivity and build a culture of health.


1 United States Department of Health and Human Services; MillionHearts®; American Cancer Society Cancer Facts and Figures, 2015.


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