National Critical Illness Awareness Month

National Critical Illness Awareness Month

Are you covered?

Child in critical careIt may seem like a “designated” awareness month exists for just about everything these days. From “National No Beard Day” to “National Lima Bean Respect Day,” there is no lack of creative ideas dedicated to a month or day. However, amongst the seemingly silly days, the truly significant ones are brought back to the surface yearly.  National Critical Illness Awareness Month was founded by The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance in 2011. A critical illness, unlike the flu in most cases, is a life-threatening medical condition.  This month, the three main acute illnesses highlighted nationally are heart attack, stroke, and cancer. October was selected because Fall is usually the time of the year that employers offer critical illness insurance plans to their employees.

Man looking at his laptop with a serious face

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

In most  cases, a childhood cancer diagnosis is something that you can’t foreshadow. The bad news feels like it comes out of the twilight zone, especially if your family doesn’t have any history of chronic or critical illnesses. Besides learning all about your child’s cancer and treatment journey, you are suddenly left figuring out how you will cover the medical costs. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t always follow the “open enrollment” insurance calendar, and it’s an uninvited, unwelcomed guest that can show up anytime. You might ask yourself, should I prepare now just in case after reading this? Does my employer offer critical illness insurance? What other options do I have if my employer doesn’t offer coverage? Here we’ll briefly cover the questions you should be asking your employer and resources to help you navigate how to prepare for the future and/or acquire cancer medical coverage quickly when you least expected you needed it.

How Does Critical Illness Insurance Work?

Critical illness insurance is a specific type of insurance that gives policyholders a lump sum payment for catastrophic diagnoses like cancer. The policyholder can use the money they receive however they like, and many put it toward medical bills or to replace lost wages. Every policy has slightly different terms and most cover these illnesses:Sick child sitting on bench

  • Cancer
  • Organ transplant
  • Heart transplant
  • Heart attack
  • Paralysis
  • Coronary bypass surgery
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Organ transplant
  • Heart transplant
  • Parkinson’s
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

Each insurance will clearly state which illnesses they cover and which they don’t with critical illness insurance. Understandably, it’s not common to think about the possibility of your child becoming critically ill. However, if this happens, you might need financial support in your household, which is precisely what children’s critical illness insurance can provide. Adult policies can also be extended to cover them at no extra charge when it comes to a child that may get a critical illness like pediatric cancer. Adult policies can also be extended to protect them at no additional cost.

Should I get covered?

Critical illness insurance coverage is worth it if you believe you would struggle with the finances of getting extremely ill. An adult getting sick or having a severely ill child can significantly impact household finances, especially if the primary earner needs to take time off work. Critical illness insurance can lighten the burden of a cancer diagnosis in your household. Additionally, each policy’s lump sum payment will vary depending on specific insurance terms. The payment can be generous depenidng on the diagnosis, and the amount can range between $10,000 to $50,000.

Types of Critical Illness Insurance
Health insurance spelled out in tiles

Photo by Olya Kobruseva:

There are three types of critical illness insurance most companies offer. You should consult with your employer-funded or private insurance company to find out what coverage is available to you.  Each provides different benefits and considerations:

Simplified Issue: Individual or Group

Usually the most common and inexpensive. The majority of simplified issue policies have a maximum payout of $50,000. Simplified issue insurance policies have a lower monthly premium, and you don’t need to provide rigorous family medical history information.

Fully Underwritten: Individual or Group

This coverage offers a higher payout for policyholders, usually up to $500,000.  The insurance company will require an extensive medical history to award you a policy close to the maximum payout amount, and monthly premium payments will increase.

Policy Rider

This will apply if you have an existing policy. A policy rider can be added at any time, even if it’s not the typical window for choosing insurance.

Please contact your specific health insurance company to find out how you and your family can be covered in the event of a critical illness diagnosis.

Need More Support To Find Medical Coverage? Contact Us!

If you are a family with a child newly diagnosed with cancer, or if you know of a family who finds themselves in this challenging situation, please contact Here to Serve. Their team is ready to help families navigate this challenging new world in light of a childhood cancer diagnosis and provide support in many different ways. Please click on the Get Help button from our homepage.

By Sameera Rangwala, M.S., M.P.H

About the Author

Sameera Rangwala spent 15 years in the biotechnology industry. As a scientist and research professional, she uses her skills to blog and provides words of support to the cancer community.

All content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.