Long Term disability and increasing Cancer Survival Rates
Cancer is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, with breast, colon and prostate cancer topping the list. In the past, cancer meant permanent disability or even death, but today cancer patients can look to modern medicine to help them manage their disease in a more effective way.
Overall costs for cancer in 2006 were estimated by The National Institutes of Health to be around $206 billion, including medical costs and lost productivity due to illness and premature death.
Recently, Unum, the foremost group disability insurance provider in the United States, reported that 12% of their long-term disability claims were due to cancer. Their database tracks over 26 million covered individuals and an estimated 175,000 employer policyholders. The insurance provider expressed concern that these rates may double by 2030.
Although cancer rates are increasing, due to new and effective treatments for cancer, most patients are living well past five years after their diagnosis date, while many are returning to the workforce. Unum's data showed that since 2001 there has been a 96% in increase for short term breast cancer patients returning to the workforce, while long-term claimants increased by 14%. Sixty-five percent of colon cancer patients with short-term disability claims returned to work force, with long-term claimants increasing by 24%. Prostate disability claimants had an increase as well, 72% for short-term and 36% for long term.
The National Cancer Institute reported that the survival rate of five years has made an extraordinary improvement over the last 20 years. Colon cancer survival has increased by 61%, while breast cancer shows a 89% improvement. Prostate cancer shows the most improvement of all cancers, with a 100% increase in five-year survival.
While cancer may be on the rise, the management of the disease is providing hope to many people. Without insurance, cancer can cause significant emotional and financial strains. Furthermore, without insurance, many may not get the quality of health care that they deserve.
Fortunately, Americans are acknowledging the possibility of finding themselves in need of short and long-term disability insurance due to cancer. Unum reported an 81% increase in voluntary critical illness and cancer policies. They received more than 400,000 new disability claims and paid over $4 billion in disability benefits in 2006.
While cancer is becoming manageable, it is still important to take out short and long-term disability policies in case of illness. While the emotional impact of cancer can be debilitating, having financial security can reduce the strain significantly.
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