• Here is the short answer: Critical illnesses cause financial devastation to millions of individuals and families (even those with health insurance). A product was created that would provide cash at a time it was needed most.

    For those who want a lot more information. Consider the following: Medical problems contributed to over 60 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States and a 2008 Harvard University study found that more than three-quarters (77.9 percent) had health insurance at the start of the bankrupting illness. This study was performed prior to the current economic downturn and will likely understate the current burden of financial suffering.

    Critical illnesses are striking more Americans every single year. Some 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer (American Cancer Society). An estimated 785,000 Americans will have a first heart attack and some 600,000 Americans will experience their first stroke (American Heart Association). The vast majority will survive.

    The financial consequences of surviving a critical illness are something few people are prepared for. Most health insurance policies come with deductibles and co-pays that can be as much as $5,000 a year. Prescriptions are not just costly, they are rarely fully covered.

    And, here is something you likely have not considered; while you are undergoing treatment or recovering for an extended period of time, you will still have to pay your health insurance premiums. You’ll pay insurance, rent or mortgage, credit card bills, school tuition, real estate taxes, food and utilities.

    According to the Harvard study, many families with health insurance found themselves under-insured and responsible for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. The average out-of-pocket cost was $17,749 for all medically bankrupt families. Because most health insurance is linked to employment, a medical event can trigger loss of coverage. For patients who initially had private coverage but lost it, the family’s out-of-pocket expenses averaged $22,568.

    In the late 1990s, a new financial product was developed to help consumers cover expenses associated with critical illness. Appropriately, it’s called Critical Illness Insurance. This specialized insurance provides a lump-sum, tax-free payment should a policyholder suffer from certain specific critical conditions.

    Some 600,000 Americans now have this protection purchased on an individual basis or through a plan offered by their employer.