If you believe some industry insiders, critical illness just may be the voluntary benefit to watch. That’s because the coverage helps supplement what regular health insurance won’t cover when a person suffers a critical—and often common—illness.

Facing a critical illness can reduce a family’s income by more than $12,000 in the first year alone, even if the patient has medical coverage, according to a MetLife study.

[Read "Will critical illness insurance take off?"]

Here are the five top claims for critical illness insurance>>

Heart attack

There’s a reason we hear health experts encourage us to make heart healthy choices all the time. Heart disease is more common than you might think: The American Heart Association says one in three adults have some form of cardiovascular disease. More than a million Americans have heart attacks each year.

Obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are big risk factors for people suffering a heart attack.

(photo credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot)

breast cancer walk

Cancer

Cancer, based on Colonial Life claims statistics, makes up about 27 percent of the company’s critical illness claims.

One in three women and one in two men in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetime, the American Cancer Society reports.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they don’t realize they’re going to have a lot of expenses outside their major medical insurance, says Randy Finn, assistant vice president, product development at Colonial Life.

“Many people have deductibles of $2,000 or more these days, plus they might have a 20 percent copay. On top of that, there are expenses just not covered by medical insurance, such as traveling to treatment centers, child care during treatments and home adaptations that might be needed following a critical illness.”

(photo credit: AP file photo)

kidneytransplant

Kidney failure

We know that diabetes is a huge problem. But what many don’t realize is both diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes can severely damage the kidneys. In fact, chronic kidney disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Despite this, many doctors aren’t diagnosing kidney disease in their patients, according to a new study by the National Kidney Foundation.

(photo credit: bejim)

Stroke

Stroke is an emergency and a brain attack, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

In the United States, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing over 133,000 people each year, and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability, according to the National Stroke Association. It’s obvious why this is a major claim: There are an estimated 7,000,000 stroke survivors in the United States over age 20.

(photo credit: strokedoctor.com)

 

Coronary artery bypass surgery

Coronary artery bypass surgery is a surgical procedure performed to relieve angina and reduce the risk of death from coronary artery disease. And though a scary thought, the number of these surgeries continue to grow each year, reports say.

(photo credit: jscreationzs)