An insurer has warned critical illnesses cost the UK economy more than £15bn a year, with a continued financial impact felt by sufferers even when they return to work.
The four most prevalent critical illnesses, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), strokes and coronary heart disease, have impacted the economy to a loss of £15.2bn, according to research by Legal & General.
The insurer found cancer alone accounted for a £9.3bn detriment to the economy, with a fifth of that cost being the result of employees continuing to work but being impacted by ongoing complications such as fatigue and post traumatic stress.
The research, conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research for L&G, found coronary heart disease and strokes had an annual financial impact of £2.8bn and £1.9bn respectively.
Although less prevalent, MS was found to have a disproportionate effect on the UK workforce compared to the number of sufferers, with an employment rate of 28 per cent.
The research suggested the impact of MS extended further than to employees leaving the workforce, with sufferers returning to work earning up to £8,000 less each year.
The research highlights the need for protection policies which could mitigate the financial impact of a critical illness.
The insurer notes that “Though the effects of critical illness on our health are rightly front of mind, our research clearly shows that these diseases can have a major impact on our ability to work and earn a steady income.”
“The lump sum paid out by critical illness insurance can be invaluable in helping consumers to manage their financial circumstances in their time of need.
“By helping to pay off essential monthly outgoings, these policies can help remove added worry about money at a time when individuals need to focus on their recovery.”
In addition, the research notes that incurring a serious illness has a wider impact.
“Financially, this is worse than premature death because it impacts on the earnings and expenditure of others. It also impacts on state benefits reducing the amount available within the national budget.”
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Julian Kaye Dip PFS