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The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. has announced a series of voluntary critical illness employee benefits intended, it said, “to help protect workers against the out-of-pocket costs of a qualifying critical illness, such as a stroke, heart attack, and cancer.”

According to a Sun Life Financial critical illness report, even U.S. workers with health insurance were financially unprepared for a critical illness. Nearly one-third of workers who experienced a critical illness had to dip into savings earmarked for future needs, according to the critical illness survey, while over 10 percent had to sell their homes and/or declare bankruptcy. Such financial sacrifice reflected high out-of-pocket medical costs for critical illness, which averaged approximately $17,000 for stroke, $14,000 for a heart attack, and nearly $7,000 for cancer, according to Sun Life’s proprietary claims data. Loss of income from disability could further add to the burden, the Sun Life critical illness report revealed.

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