The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE:SLF, TSX:SLF) today announced a series of voluntary critical illness employee benefits to help protect workers against the out-of-pocket costs of a qualifying critical illness, such as a stroke, heart attack, and cancer.
According to a Sun Life Financial critical illness report, even U.S. workers with health insurance are financially unprepared for a critical illness. Nearly one-third of workers who experienced a critical illness had to dip into savings earmarked for future needs, according to the critical illness survey, while over 10% had to sell their homes and/or declare bankruptcy. Such financial sacrifice reflects high out-of-pocket medical costs for critical illness, which average approximately $17,000 for stroke, $14,000 for a heart attack, and nearly $7,000 for cancer, according to Sun Life’s proprietary claims data. 1 Loss of income from disability can further add to the burden, the Sun Life critical illness report revealed.
“When a critical illness strikes an employee or their loved ones, even robust health coverage may only go so far,” said Bob Klein, Sun Life’s Senior Vice President of Voluntary and Multiline. “For many workers, a critical illness’s out-of-pocket expenses could easily cost 15% of household income. That means critical illness coverage represents not only an important recruitment and retention tool for employers, but a way for employees to protect themselves against serious financial loss.”
Features of Sun Life Critical Illness InsuranceEmployers can select from three different Sun Life group plans:
- Critical Illness insurance, to provide coverage against illnesses such as a heart attack or stroke
- Cancer insurance, to provide coverage against cancer and non-life threatening cancer
- Critical Illness and Cancer insurance together
- Recurrence benefit rider, which pays a benefit for a new diagnosis involving a recurring illness
- Coverage levels from $5,000 to $50,000, payable as a lump sum cash benefit upon diagnosis of a covered condition
- Cash benefits can be used however the claimant wants—for example, to cover out-of-pocket medical costs, transportation and parking costs for hospital visits, exploratory treatments, or mortgage liabilities.
- Health Care Support Service 2, provided by ComPsych® Corporation, includes telephone access to professionals who can help employees and family members, whether or not they are critically ill, to:
- Understand medical coverage, diagnosis, and treatment choices,
- Coordinate with health care providers,
- Help prepare for health care visits, tests, and procedures, and
- Navigate medical bills and other administrative issues.
- Option to cover dependents for all categories of coverage, plus childhood diseases, such as cerebral palsy, complex congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and muscular dystrophy.
- Wellness screening benefit, which promotes healthy lifestyles, pays employees each calendar year if they submit proof of a wellness screen, such as an electrocardiogram, diabetes test, or mammogram.
- Depending on the group size and participation, option to offer plans as Guaranteed Issue, which means employees may elect to participate without providing evidence of insurability.