Uncovering the truth about critical illnesses

Myth:

Cancer, heart attack and stroke won’t happen to me.

Reality:

2 out of 5 of us are expected to develop cancer in our lifetime. More alarmingly, every four minutes a Canadian is diagnosed with cancer. More than 400,000 Canadians are living with long-term stroke disability.

Myth:

If I get cancer, I probably won’t live. My family can live off of my life insurance.

Reality:

63% of Canadians are expected to survive for five years or more after a cancer diagnosis. If you don’t plan ahead for a serious illness, you could jeopardize your family’s financial wellbeing.

Myth:

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t a huge financial burden because no expensive medical equipment is needed.

Reality:

Alzheimer’s disease costs the patient and their family more than you’d think. The combined medical and lost earnings cost of dementia totals $33 billion a year. In 2011, family caregivers spent more than 444 million unpaid hours looking after someone with a cognitive impairment, including dementia.

Myth:

If I have a heart attack or stroke, I might not survive.

Reality:

More than 90% of Canadians who have a heart attack and more than 80% who have a stroke and make it to the hospital will survive. You will likely need time off work to recover, though.

Myth:

If I get sick, the government health plan will pay for my medical expenses.

Reality:

The government will cover some of your medical expenses – but may not cover all of them and, often, only those administered in the hospital. Covered medical costs vary from province to province. In some provinces, it’s not uncommon to pay upwards of $6,000 a month for oral cancer medications, which can be prescribed for up to a year. That’s $72,000 that has to be paid out of pocket if you don’t have private prescription insurance coverage (and private insurance often has a spending cap).
The government also won’t pay for the extra costs associated with your treatment, like hospital parking, gas and lunches on the go.

Myth:

I’ll be able to live off my savings while undergoing treatment and not working.

Reality:

Depending on the type of illness you’ve been diagnosed with, you could be off work for quite a while. Almost 20% of cancer survivors report limitations on their ability to work even up to five years after diagnosis. 57% of cancer survivors had to reduce their hours at work, change their role or quit entirely.
However, 42% of Canadians admit they could only live on their savings for six months or less before their money ran out.* Depending on the type of cancer, you’ll likely receive treatments for approximately 6 months and will still want time to recover before returning to work. During the treatment phase, you’re likely to run up bills for medical supplies that aren’t covered by government health plans, or even hospital parking fees. These bills can be hard to pay if you’re off work for an extended period of time.

Myth:

I’m not likely to get sick because I live a healthy lifestyle.

Reality:

You may think your lifestyle is fairly healthy, but statistics show Canadians aren’t as healthy as we think.The obesity rate in Canada is climbing, leading to an increase in medical conditions. One in four adults and one in 10 children are clinically obese. Obesity is the leading cause of a number of conditions, including heart disease, stroke and cancer. Obesity isn’t the only precursor to serious medical conditions, and even if you live as healthy as possible, there’s no guarantee you won’t become sick.

Myth:

My personal or group disability insurance will cover all my income needs.

Reality:

Disability insurance is a great solution to cover your income, but most disability plans have a waiting period of one to three months and a maximum percent of coverage. Disability insurance also won’t cover you if your spouse or child gets sick. Critical illness insurance will cover your income in those instances.
Pairing critical illness insurance with disability insurance is a great solution to cover your immediate and long term income needs.

*Source: Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life™ commissioned Head Research to conduct Critical Illness insurance thought leadership research in August 2015.