These people fear the bill collector more than the Grim Reaper.
Among workers ages 40 and 50, nearly half fear the financial consequences of a critical illness—compared with just 29 percent who rate dying as their biggest concern, according to a new study conducted by Kelton.
That fear of a hit to the wallet being a bigger concern than dying is most pronounced among single workers, single women and single parents, according to the Sun Life Financial survey, “Well-Placed Fears: Workers’ Perceptions of a Critical Illness.”
For example, single women in that 40-50 age group who earn less than $50,000 are four times more concerned about the financial fallout of a critical illness than they are worried about being killed by it, the report found.
And most single parents and single women ages 22 to 39 in that income bracket are more worried about paying the bills from those illnesses than dying from them.
Despite those stark money-related fears, the overwhelming majority of American workers are going without insurance coverage that would specifically pay bills from a critical illness.
Thirty-six percent of the workers who responded to the survey believe they have critical illness coverage—but less than 5 percent of all workers are estimated to actually carry such coverage.
“Our findings suggest that benefits brokers and [human resources] decision-makers might especially want to consider offering critical illness and cancer insurance if their employee base contains a significant group of women, workers age 40 to 50 or singles,” said Bob Klein, senior vice president of Sun Life’s voluntary and multi-line divisions.
Klein’s singling out of cancer stemmed from another major finding of the survey, which polled more than 4,100 full-time workers and was conducted by Kelton.
Nearly half of all workers polled—48 percent—were most worried about falling victim to an invasive cancer. Heart attack was the top concern for 32 percent, and stroke for 15 percent.