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Critical Illness Insurance 101

Why are we starting out with this one, critical illness insurance?  Because unlike so many other kinds of insurance, this one pays you, not your beneficiaries.  You don’t have to die to make it work.  In fact, that’s part of  the problem  this coverage addresses so well.

Modern medical science is nothing short of breathtaking.  There are advances and improvements every month, every day actually.  We now survive critical illnesses – heart attack, stroke, cancer – that killed us with relentless certainty only a few decades ago.

Statistics don’t mean much on a personal level, but consider these numbers.  Nearly 1.5 million Americans will be called into a doctor’s private consultation suite this year to be told “you have cancer”.  At least 800,000 will have that absolutely shocking first heart attack.  Their first stroke will stun another 600,000.  And most will survive and recover.

Which is wonderful.  But also, more often than we admit, financially devastating.

Even with amazing health insurance, you will have all sorts of expenses even that plan simply will not cover.  Deductibles and co-pays.  Viable alternative or experimental treatments.  Prescriptions.  Travel expenses.  Parking and incidentals at all the clinics and medical centers you will visit.  Your mortgage, utility bills or car payments.  The monthly health insurance premiums.  You will not be working for a while, remember, and most disability payments are limited and short-term.  Perhaps a spouse or child will take time off to care for you.  What about hotels and meals for out-of-town family members that want to visit?  The list goes on and on.  And maybe, just maybe, you and your family would like to take some time away once you’ve recovered.

Doctors heal; modern medicine can cure.  But the financial toll is out of their hands.

That is until Dr. Marius Barnard, a cardiac surgeon, transplant team member and brother of South Africa’s Dr. Christian Barnard (yes!  that one!) came up with an idea.  He saw both sides of modern medicine’s equation: the medical side and the financial side.  As he himself noted, “When I perform a coronary heart bypass, my patients survive between five or ten years.  I had never realized what we were doing.  We gave them years but we gave them hell because of the increased costs of living”.  He also noted that when patients undergo such major operations or deal with cancer or stroke, their lifestyle instantly becomes more expensive while their earning capacity diminishes precipitously.

What to do?

Next, we will look at the ingenious solution this fine physician devised.

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