Nearly half of workers polled fear the financial impact of a critical illness more than dying from one, new research reveals.

Sun Life Financial reports this finding in a summer 2013 white paper on critical illness insurance, "Well-placed fears: workers' perceptions of critical illness: What every employer needs to know." Administered by Kelton Research, the online survey polled 4,116 full-time U.S.-based employees, the median household income and age of respondents being $51,000 and 43, respectively.

When asked to identify their greatest concern in case of a critical illness, 47 percent of survey participants named "finances." That's a significantly higher percentage than the third (29 percent) who flagged "dying" or the fifth (22 percent) who cited "the emotional burden."

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