Survey Finds 'Financial Protection Gap'

December 9, 2005 ( - Many Americans will face a serious illness in the future with little or no personal savings to rely on, a new survey found.

Insurance provider MetLife said in a news release that its Critical Illness Financial Impact survey uncovered a “financial protection gap” for individuals – an insufficient pot of money to be accessed if the person got seriously ill.

“The financial burdens related to a critical illness often outlast the treatment and recovery period,” said Randy Stram, MetLife vice president, Critical Illness Insurance, in the news release.. “The Critical Illness Financial Impact survey emphasizes the need for increasing consumer awareness about the potential gap in financial protection that some individuals may face in the event of a major illness.”

Respondents were asked how much they had available in their personal savings account in case they or a spouse got seriously ill. They said:

  • None, 22%
  • Under $1,000, 21%
  • From $1,000 to Just Under $5,000, 16%
  • From $5,000 to Just Under $10,000, 10%
  • From $10,000 to Just Under $20,000, 5%
  • From $20,000 to Just Under $30,000, 2%
  • $30,000 and Over, 11%
  • Don’t Know, 14%

When the study asked individuals where they would turn if faced with a major illness and needed to access between $10,000 and $35,000, one in four (26%) said they “do not know.”

Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) would either have to borrow against retirement savings or secure a credit line on their home. One in four (24%) would need to borrow from friends or family members.

The survey was conducted by GfK NOP, a research firm during the third quarter of 2005 among a nationally representative sample of 1,004 adults (479 men and 525 women) across the US.