There’s no escaping the fact that our economy has dealt a crushing blow to many families’ finances. Across the nation, individuals, couples and families are struggling to pay rents and mortgages and keep enough food on the table. On top of all this is the rising cost of health care, and the added cost-sharing even for those insured by employers. Individuals in all 50 states are putting off doctor visits, delaying needed medical care and opting not to fill prescriptions.
In their report Snapshots from the Kitchen Table: Family Budgets and Health Care, The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU) found that healthcare costs were a major strain on budgets of families across the nation, especially when a critical illness is involved. The report took a good look at a burden many people face today and so many others fear. That burden is caring for a family member with a critical illness without letting the cost of care lead them to either make sacrifices on quality of care or succumb to financial ruin.
In the report we meet an unemployed man with stomach cancer whose COBRA eligibility had run out. He’s forced to enroll in a plan with over $1,000 monthly premiums and a deductible. After having already burned through his 401(k) and skipping several mortgage payments to pay medical bills, he has fallen $60,000 dollars into medical debt and is growing deeper and deeper into debt each month.
We also meet a woman in her early 50s who has breast cancer. Her employer-sponsored insurance covered 80 percent of her lumpectomy but after having the procedure done, she quickly met her plan’s annual maximum and had to pay for chemotherapy out-of-pocket. Because of the high costs, she decided to postpone her treatments until the next plan year.
As these two cases show, high cost-sharing and insurance plan maximums lead even the critically ill to plunge deeply into debt or put off care that could help them beat their diseases. Employers do, however, have an option to help employees keep financially sound, even in the face of a critical illness.
Supplemental Critical Illness Policies:
Offering voluntary critical illness policies as a supplemental benefit can help employees with a history of cancer, heart disease or other critical illnesses avoid the crippling financial consequences down the road.
What critical illness plans do is pay a lump sum benefit to your employees at their first diagnosis of a covered illness. Eligible employees choose the dollar amount of coverage (i.e. the amount of the lump sum that they would be paid if they got diagnosed with a covered illness) and have their premiums for this policy deducted directly from their paychecks.
The lump sum that critical illness policies pay out can help employees keep out of medical debt and finance the illness-related expenses that their insurance doesn’t cover. Think of your health insurance as a guarantee that you’ll get treated when you get sick and this voluntary benefit as the help you need to afford the bills.