Even if you have an insurance plan offered through your work or other professional organization, sometimes this coverage doesn’t provide all the essential financial protections you need. Despite having a high-deductible plan, you can find yourself in a position with medical bills that exceed your annual salary. With so much riding on whether you’re able to pay off these bills, it might be wise to consider adding another level of insurance on top of your current policy.

Critical illness insurance – sometimes called critical illness cover or even dread disease policy – provides that extra layer of protection in the event that you receive a serious diagnosis of one of the specific, predetermined conditions listed as part of your existing insurance policy. With this coverage, the insurance company pays a lump-sum cash benefit that assists with the expenses associated with critical illnesses, such as invasive cancer, heart attack, Lou Gehrig’s disease, stroke and other major diagnoses.

Medical bill pains
The rise of critical illness insurance has grown not so much out of popularity, but rather out of necessity. Even people with health insurance can find themselves still struggling to pay off these bills. People end up draining their savings accounts, maxing out their credit cards and even refinancing their homes to pay off their mountains of medical debt.

Worse, after depleting their savings and options, many people must turn to bankruptcy proceedings to alleviate the financial burden for these major costs. Unfortunately, more people file bankruptcy due to medical bills than any other reason, NerdWallet Health reported, leading to the filing of 3 in 5 bankruptcies.

“Insurance is no silver bullet,” said Christina LaMontagne, vice president of health at Nerdwallet. “Even with insurance coverage, we expect 10 millions will face bills they are unable to pay.”

Not only are medical bills the leading cause of bankruptcy, but Americans are also paying higher contributions to their plans, without necessarily receiving any additional benefits. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, while the average annual health insurance premiums have increased 61 percent between 2005 and 2015, worker contribution to these plans surged 83 percent. This rate of growth greatly outpaces the country’s overall inflation rate, which only rose 12 percent from 2005 to 2010 and then 9 percent from 2010 through 2015.

Due to the rise in worker contribution to these plans, many employers are offering critical illness insurance to alleviate the financial anxiety associated with medical bills, The New York Times reported. Critical illness insurance is like putting a bandage on the “less generous medical coverage” provided by your employer.

“Quite honestly, these high-deductible plans are a source of initial employee stress,” Barry Schilmeister, a principal in the health and benefits business at Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, said, according to the source. “And it seems as though [critical illness insurance] plans are helping a certain group of employees feel a little bit better about signing up for a plan that has a high deductible, at least in certain cases where the employee is afraid they will have a large out-of-pocket cost in those kinds of not-frequent situations.”

Facing such an uncertain financial environment when it comes to insurance coverages, it’s important to have extra security in place to protect yourself and your savings. Critical illness insurance can provide that additional barrier between you and bankruptcy, by paying a lump sum of anywhere between $5,000 and $100,000. Further, these policies are not typically out of the price of many people, since as the Times noted, a typical 40 year old could expect to pay an additional $25 to $50 a month for this added protection.

Sources:
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/managing-medical-bills/nerdwallet-health-study-estimates-56-million-americans-65-struggle-medical-bills-2013/

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/19/your-money/insurance-for-critical-illness-adds-security-but-at-a-cost.html

http://kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2015-summary-of-findings/