It used to be that a heart attack or cancer was fatal; today we are seeing more people in Australia surviving these illnessesi.
If you survive a critical illness or are diagnosed with a degenerative disease, treatments or medications designed to manage the symptoms can be costly. The unfortunate reality is that a critical illness can leave some people temporarily or permanently disabled ii,iii and impair their ability to work and care for themselves. Costs associated with care and recovery can coincide with a temporary or permanent loss of income. This is where life insurance can help. If you suffer from a critical illness* and you have Allianz Critical Illness cover you will receive a lump sum payment that can be used for any purpose, including assisting you to cover treatment and other medical or lifestyle-related costs, potentially relieving you and your family from considerable financial burden.
Surviving a critical illness - heart attack and stroke
While some people may walk away from a stroke in fairly good health, statistics from 2003 show that 42.4% of Australians developed some form of disability as a result of having suffered from a strokeiv. In 2003 the average cost per stroke case in the first twelve months following an attack was $18,956 and over a lifetime this added up to $44,428v. In 2009, heart attack and chest pain were estimated to have a direct cost of $1.8 billion in the health care system. This is approximately $25,000 per patientvi, mostly composed of inpatient and pharmaceutical costs.
Degenerative diseases are those which impair the function or structure of a person's tissues or organs over a period of timevii. These diseases are progressive and they often impact significantly on the sufferer's quality of life.
A person diagnosed with a degenerative disease can face expensive health care costs for symptom treatment and disease management on top of being disadvantaged in the workforce with limited employment opportunities.
Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a disabling neurological disease that affects the central nervous systemviii. People suffering from PD experience tremors, impaired stability and coordination, rigidity of muscle groups and slow movementviii. Approximately 64,000 Australians were living with PD in 2011 and about 30 new cases were diagnosed each day during the yearix. Parkinson's NSW predicted that there were about 1,299 to 1,692 deaths from PD in 2011 and that this number is expected to double by 2031x. The average out-of-pocket expenses in 2011 for aids for a person suffering from PD are hefty. Someone with stage five PD will spend about $2,590 per yearxi and the financial cost for someone living with Parkinson's for 12 years is about $144,000xii.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an incurable auto-immune disease which causes the body's immune system to attack its own nervous system. In 2005, it was estimated that 21,000 Australians have MSxiii. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, most diagnoses are made in adulthood (ages 20-40) and twice as many women are affected than menxiv. And although the disease is not fatal, managing MS symptoms can be expensive - treatment is estimated to cost more than $1,000 each monthxv.
Another notable degenerative disease is Muscular Dystrophy (MD) - approximately 5,000 Australians are affected by MDxvi. The impact of this neuromuscular disorder is a progressive weakening of muscle tissues, a decrease in mobility and often a shortened life spanxvi. The Muscular Dystrophy Association of Australia reveals that many children affected by muscular dystrophy will not reach their twenties. The cost involved in managing this disease is not miniscule either. It is estimated that families caring for a person with MD face a financial burden of $126,000 each year - taking into account health care costs, aids and equipment, care, transport and limited employment opportunitiesxvii.
Rising out-of-pocket costs
Australians are fortunate in the way that commonly prescribed medications are subsidised by the government. But research from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy suggests that, in reality, government subsidies are not stopping overall medical costs and out-of-pocket costs from risingxviii.
According to this research, current financial assistance for medical services is inadequate to meet everyone's needsxviii. Even if you are temporarily disabled by your illness, you may require care, transport, after school care for your children, therapy, or domestic help during your recovery. Added to the costs of medical care, rehabilitation and medication, these expenses can become unaffordable. If your disability is permanent, these expenses will be ongoing. Without adequate insurance these costs could take a devastating toll on your finances.
Providing future financial security for your family should not be an afterthought and you should consider this before you have any health scares and while there are still a range of options available to you. Get a quote online from Allianz today for life insurance and see how Critical Illness cover can help.
*Conditions that are covered under the Critical Illness cover can be found here: http://www.allianz.com.au/life-insurance/critical-illness-cover
i Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010, Australia's Health 2010 in brief, p.52
ii Brain Injury Australia, About Acquired Brain Injury, http://www.bia.net.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=3
iii Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010, Australia's Health 2010, www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442452962, p.145
iv Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2006, How we manage stroke in Australia, http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467815, p.3
v The North East Melbourne Stroke Incidence Study, 2001, The Cost of Stroke in Australia From a Societal Perspective, http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/32/10/2409
vi Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes institute, The economic costs of heart attack and chest pain (Acute Coronary Syndrome), http://www.bakeridi.edu.au/Assets/Files/FullReport%20-%20the%20economic%20costs%20of%20heart%20attack%20and%20chest%20pain%20(emilable.pdf
vii Definition of degenerative disease, EverythingBio, http://www.everythingbio.com/glos/definition.php?word=degenerative+disease
viii Deloitte Access Economics, 2011, Parkinson's Australia, Living with Parkinson's Disease - update, http://www.parkinsonsnsw.org.au/assets/attachments/documents/AE-Report_2011.pdf, p.6
ix Deloitte Access Economics, 2011, Parkinson's Australia, Living with Parkinson's Disease - update, http://www.parkinsonsnsw.org.au/assets/attachments/documents/AE-Report_2011.pdf, p.i & p.ii
x Deloitte Access Economics, 2011, Parkinson's Australia, Living with Parkinson's Disease - update, http://www.parkins
xi Deloitte Access Economics, 2011, Parkinson's Australia, Living with Parkinson's Disease - update, http://www.parkinsonsnsw.org.au/assets/attachments/documents/AE-Report_2011.pdf, p.50
xii Deloitte Access Economics, 2011, Parkinson's Australia, Living with Parkinson's Disease - update, http://www.parkinsonsnsw.org.au/assets/attachments/documents/AE-Report_2011.pdf, p.ii
xiii MS Australia, 2005, About MS, http://www.msaustralia.org.au/aboutms.asp
xiv National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), 2011, Multiple Sclerosis, http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/research/multiple-sclerosis
xv Taylor, I., R. Macdonell & J. Coleman, 2002, 'Treatment of multiple sclerosis with newer immune-modulating drugs', Australian Prescriber, http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/25/2/32/5/
xvi Muscular Dystrophy Australia, 2012, Media FAQ, http://www.mda.org.au/Media/FAQ.asp
xvii Muscular Dystrophy Australia, 2012, "The Cost of Muscular Dystrophy" Report Launch Parliament House Canberra, http://www.mda.org.au/media/accesslaunch/index.asp
xviii University of Sydney: Menzies Centre for Health Policy, 2006, Perceptions of economic hardship and implications for illness management: a survey of general practitioners in western Sydney, http://www.menzieshealthpolicy.edu.au/other_tops/pdfs_pubs/hospdeah271010.pdf