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We are living longer, but we are not by any means living our lives disease free, particularly in old age.   

Because of advances in the treatment of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, millions of Americans who would have quickly perished in past decades are either recovering or living longer with the disease.  

But the financial toll of major illnesses can easily bankrupt an individual and his family even if he has health insurance. Indeed, notes Standard Life, another major trend in health care has been the increasing shift in cost sharing to beneficiaries. Co-pays on chemotherapy can be devastating.  

That’s why long-term care and critical illness insurance are emerging as important trends in the health care landscape. Indeed, a study in November found a dramatic rise in the popularity of critical illness plans, and an official at UnitedHealthcare told BenefitsPRO that more than a quarter of employers now offer such products to employees.  

In a white paper explaining the rise of critical illness plans, Standard Life and Accident Insurance displays the figures that underpin people’s decisions to buy supplemental insurance that provide financial security in the event of a serious disease.  

Typically, critical illness insurance issues a beneficiary who is struck by a qualifying medical condition. The money is intended for medical bills as well as to make up for lost income.  

Above all else, critical illness insurance is driven by cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 43 percent of American men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. For women, the rate is slightly lower, but still high: 38 percent.  

And then there are heart attacks. For many of the 85 million Americans living with some type of cardiovascular disease, it may be prudent to plan for the recovery from a heart attack.  

And of course, there are strokes. Every 40 seconds, an American is hit by one, and they account for 5 percent of all U.S. deaths.  

“Patients might not be able to maintain a positive attitude as they recover if they are worrying continually about how they are going to pay for their care,” states the report. “A critical illness policy would provide peace of mind should the time come when someone faces such difficult circumstances.”  

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