Life expectancy in Canada is on the rise. Those born in 1920 could expect to live for 60 years, on average; this had increased to 80 years for those born in 2000. Canadians now survive previously fatal conditions, but survival often comes with a cost. During recovery from critical illness you may see your financial obligations increase, while your income decreases if you take time off work.
The top three causes of death in Canada, according to Statistics Canada, are cancer, heart disease, and stroke, but medical advances mean that people are living longer after diagnosis. The Heart and Stroke Foundation notes that there are roughly 70 000 heart attacks in Canada each year, and an estimated 62 000 stroke and TIA patients admitted to Canadian emergency departments. Some 105 000 of these people survive and join the more than 1.3 million Canadians living with health impacts from heart disease or stroke.
If you were diagnosed with a critical illness would you have the financial freedom to attend to your health? The average hospital stay after a stroke is 16.1 days. This is a loss of work time and the beginning of an often a lifelong recovery. Cancer diagnosis can bring increased costs for medication, child care, housekeeping, and accommodation if you must travel for treatment. Your spouse may also have to decrease his or her workload to help with your care, child care, and home care. This can mean that your family will face higher expenses and less income, which may impact your savings.
Critical illness insurance was developed in 1983 by Dr Marius Barnard, a South African physician. As a participant in the first successful heart transplant surgery, Dr Barnard saw how medical advances were improving patient survival. He also saw that survivors often suffered financially due to their illness.
Critical illness plans cover a set number of conditions including cancer, heart attack and stroke, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, coronary bypass surgery, and kidney failure. After you survive the waiting period (usually 30 days from your diagnosis), you are entitled to your full critical illness benefit. This tax-free lump sum is yours to spend. You may decide to make home modifications such as adding a shower rail, pay for medications, ask your spouse to take time off work to care for you, or focus on your emotional well-being with a vacation.
Although the conditions covered by critical illness insurance are more likely to occur as you age, it is important to think about coverage while you are young. The younger you are the more likely you are to be approved for critical illness insurance and to benefit from it because you are less likely have pre-existing conditions and more likely to survive an illness.
You may already carry disability insurance. Critical illness insurance supplements do not replace disability coverage. While disability insurance pays a monthly amount if you are disabled from work, to allow you to maintain ongoing expenses such as a mortgage and car payments, critical illness insurance pays a lump sum regardless of you continuing to work. This benefit is useful for the extra costs arising from your illness and will help protect your savings and your family’s financial security during a difficult time.
—Claire Campion Wright, BSc
UBC Medicine, Class of 2016
Insurance Client Service Administrator
Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee
of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.
BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:
- Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
- There is no period after the journal name.
- Page numbers are not abbreviated.
For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org