I'm sure you've seen articles touting critical illness insurance as one of the fastest growing voluntary products. Let's discuss some drivers of its growth.

Medical plan gaps have received a great deal of attention as deductibles have been rising due to the trend toward high-deductible health care plans. PPACA-related medical insurance plan designs often leave the insured with significant out-of-pocket medical expenses. The awareness of these gaps is often cited as a primary driver of the need for CI: In the event of a critical illness, the out-of-pocket expense maximum is likely to be reached immediately, and CI fills the gap.

Uncovered medical expenses include the extra cost of going outside a health care plan's network or authorized coverage. My wife's best friend is an example. She had an aggressive form of cancer but her primary care physician didn't authorize the treatment plan she felt would be best. So she decided to go to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. They agreed with her and she had a procedure outside her plan's coverage. Fortunately, she was able to convince her insurance plan to extend coverage, but many are not so fortunate. CI can help here, and as we look forward to the increasing focus of medical plans on narrow networks, this need is likely to grow.

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