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4 Things You May Not Know About Critical Illnesses

A critical illness refers to a life-threatening condition such as cancer or a heart attack. The cost of treatment for them can quickly exceed one’s health insurance coverage. This is why it’s important to be aware of what critical illness insurance is and how it can help. Here are a few things about critical illnesses that you might not know.

Critical illnesses are expensive

MetLife notes that the average out-of-pocket medical cost for someone with a critical illness is $6,5001. One of the most common serious illnesses, cancer, can cost patients up to $20,000 annually to treat2. Beyond the medical expenses, there’s also the cost of travel, rehabilitation, and lost income if you have to miss time from work. If traditional health insurance can’t cover all these costs, critical illness insurance can help. Some critical insurance policies will offer a payout of up to $1 million3. The money can help take care of daily living expenses while a patient can focus most of their attention on healing.

Critical illness insurance is affordable

The monthly cost of critical illness insurance is often much lower than $100. Some companies will offer plans that cost as low as $12 a month4. Be aware that plans with a lower cost may cover less critical illnesses than ones with a higher cost. Other factors that determine the cost of critical illness insurance include your age, your current health, and where you live. It’s important to look into multiple providers to find a suitable plan at a price that’s affordable for you.

Critical illnesses are not uncommon

While we all hope to never get a critical illness, unfortunately, it happens more often than we realize. The lifetime probability of being diagnosed with an invasive cancer is 40.1% for men and 38.7% for women5. The American Heart Association estimates that an American will have a heart attack or a stroke every 40 seconds6. As we get older, our chances of getting a critical illness rise. WebMD notes in an article on cancer incidence rates that more than nine out of ten cancers are diagnosed in people 45 and older7. It should also be mentioned that certain critical illnesses, such as colorectal cancer, are on the rise among younger adults8. These statistics stress the importance of considering a critical illness insurance policy.

Many critical illnesses can be covered by insurance

Basic critical illness insurance coverage typically starts with three categories of critical illnesses: cancer, heart conditions, and organ damage. The organ damage category is often replaced with an “other” category that includes other illnesses. Conditions that are commonly listed in this category include blindness, paralysis, and severe burns.

With critical illness insurance, it’s important to know that stipulations must be met beyond being diagnosed with the condition. Make sure to carefully read the details on when a disease warrants a full or partial payout and in what cases your critical insurance policy won’t give a payout. Knowing this information will help you pick the right policy that helps protect you if you ever have to recover from a serious medical condition.

In Arkansas, Policies B71100AR & B7110HAR. In Oklahoma, Policies B71100OK & B7110HOK. In Oregon, Policies B71100OR & B7110HOR. In Pennsylvania, Policies B71100PA & B7110HPA. This is a brief product overview only. Coverage may not be available in all states including but not limited to: ID, NJ, NY & VA. Benefits and/or premiums may vary based on the state and benefit option selected. Riders are available for an additional premium. The policy has limitations, exclusions and pre-existing condition limitations that may affect benefits payable. The policy may contain a waiting period. Refer to the policy for benefit details, definitions, limitations and exclusions. For costs and complete details of the coverage, contact your Aflac insurance agent/producer.


1 Johns Hopkins University. “Serious illness can come with serious costs.” Published September 27, 2017.

2 SERO. “The Cost of Cancer.” Published September 10, 2021.

3 eHealth. “Critical-Illness Insurance: Is It Worth the Cost?” Published September 22, 2021.

4 GoodRx Health. “What is Critical Illness Insurance, and Do You Need It?” Published February 10, 2022.

5 ACS Journals. “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.” Published January 8, 2020.

6 American College of Cardiology Foundation. “AHA 2019 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics.” Published February 19, 2019.

7 WebMD. “Cancer Incidence Rates by Age.” Published June 20, 2020.

8 Newswise. “Why is Colorectal Cancer on the Rise in Younger People?” Published March 1, 2022.

The content herein is provided for general informational purposes and is not provided as tax, legal, health or financial advice for any person or for any specific situation. Employers, employees and other individuals should contact their own advisers about their situations. For complete details, including availability and costs of Aflac insurance, please contact your local Aflac agent.

Aflac insurance coverage is underwritten by Aflac. In New York, coverage underwritten by Aflac New York.

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