Critical Illness Policy Awareness Extremely Low

August 23, 2010 ( – Two studies by insurer MetLife found only 28% of full-time employees said they have heard of critical illness insurance (CII), but many of those confused it with another product.

A MetLife news release said three in five appear to be confusing it with health insurance and one in five confuse it with either a government insurance program or disability insurance.

In addition, the studies found:

  • 55% of full-time working Americans are somewhat or extremely concerned that a critical medical condition could impact the financial well-being of their families.
  • Only one-third of working men and one-fifth of working women feel very confident that their rainy day fund could handle a financial emergency.
  • About two-thirds of workers say they have less than three months of savings available for a medical emergency.

According to the news release, all employees polled were covered by medical insurance, 7% had CII, and 4% had cancer insurance.

MetLife explained that CII, which it offers, provides a lump-sum payment to help offset the spike in out-of-pocket expenses resulting from certain critical illnesses, such as cancer, stroke, heart attack, major organ transplant, or kidney failure.  Experiencing a critical illness, such as cancer, a heart attack or stroke, can reduce a family’s income by more than $12,000 in the first year alone – even with medical coverage in place – primarily due to the inability to work. In addition, these families experience out-of-pocket medical costs of about $3,000 in the first year after diagnosis. 

“The MetLife studies found that many people are unprepared to cope with the toll of lost income as well the out-of-pocket medical expenses and other illness-related costs,” said Clea Barth, vice president, Critical Illness Insurance Products, MetLife, in the news release. “A critical illness can have a long-term impact – even three to five years after being diagnosed, 60% of people experiencing these serious medical situations are still incurring out-of-pocket expenses.” 

The MetLife Study of the Financial Impact of Critical Illness was conducted in April 2010 by GfK Custom Research North America, and surveyed 1,002 people, ages 25 to 55, who had experienced one of the critical illnesses of cancer, heart attack, or stroke between six months and five years prior to the survey. The MetLife Critical Illness Awareness Study was conducted in April 2010 by GfK Custom Research North America, and surveyed 1,000 people, ages 25 to 55, among the general population, including 508 full-time employees.