Sub Prime Crisis is Only the Tip of the Iceberg: Critical Illness Causes 50% of Home Foreclosures; Financial Consultant Sam Harris Sees a Worrying Trend

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Twenty-five people suffer a critical illness every four minutes, that's 1 in 2.5 adults -- which leads to stress, misery and financial hardship for other family members. Sam Harris reveals some startling statistics and thinks many North Americans need to change their priorities.

People are living longer and medical costs are going up. 75 million Baby Boomers are going to retire in the next 20 years, does anyone really know what impact that is going to have?

New figures show 25 people suffer a critical illness every four minutes in North America.

Not only that, according to financial consultant Sam Harris, in the same four minutes, five North American families will have to file for bankruptcy caused by a family medical problem.

2007 statistics from The National Cancer Institute of Canada predict 39 percent of women and 44 percent of men will suffer a cancer-related illness during their lifetime.

A critical illness is defined as a condition such as heart attack, stroke, invasive cancer or a number of other conditions that a patient can be diagnosed with, but is likely to survive.

Apart from the emotional trauma associated with this kind of condition, financial problems usually arise owing to the patient not being able to work for some time; or medical insurance in force will not cover the cost of all treatment required.

Harris, a Vancouver-based financial consultant who recently experienced cancer in his own young family, believes the problem is two-fold.

"The main problem is, we all take our health for granted until it's gone and then it's too late," he said.

The second problem, according to Harris, is that North Americans have to rethink their priorities.

"For instance, people traditionally insure their homes, cars and boats. However, if you look at the statistics there is a 1 in 300 chance that your home will burn down in a North American city, yet almost a 1 in 2 chance you will get a critical illness!"

Harris stresses that income protection against such events should be at the top of any families list, because without any income -- the home, car and boat would not exist.

"Even a household on a tight budget can afford and should get C.I. protection. Usually with some simple cash flow restructuring it can be achieved."

Critical illness protection is different from traditional insurance, because the insured does not have to prove any financial loss. It pays up a tax-free lump sum of cash upon diagnosis.

It was originally designed to compensate people from being off work whilst recovering from by-pass surgery and now covers a multitude of illnesses. The policy will also return all the premiums to the insured if no claim is made on the 75th or 100th birthday depending on how the plan is set up. It is also ideal for protecting a persons retirement savings from being ravished by high medical costs later in life. Not only that, the premiums can be fixed not to go up.

"You have income protection for most of your life and then you get all your money back -- you have your cake and eat it!" Harris exclaimed.

He passionately believes that every family should have adequate protection and now is the time to do it.

"People are living longer and medical costs are going up. 75 million Baby Boomers are going to retire in the next 20 years, does anyone really know what impact that is going to have?"

No we don't.

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Sam Harris

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