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Understanding health insurance

November 11, 2019

How to choose a health insurance plan that’s right for you

Personal health insurance. Critical illness insurance. Disability insurance. Long-term care insurance. Here’s a quick way to compare their key features.

Do you know how much your government health insurance covers? Chances are, it doesn’t cover all the medical, dental or other health-care costs you might face throughout your life.

Two in ten working Canadians (22%) have experienced a serious accident or health event in the past year. And,19% faced significant financial hardships due to a health event. That’s according to the 2019 Sun Life Barometer. The survey measures Canadians’ attitudes about their health and finances.

Retired Canadians aren’t far off either. The Barometer also found that 21% of retired Canadians have persistent health issues. And,17% of retirees have family members with various health conditions. Meanwhile, 15% had to dip into their savings to cover the costs of a serious health event.

It’s clear that our health affects our wealth. But what can you do to protect your income and your savings from unexpected health-care expenses? Luckily, there are various types of health insurance that can help.

Whether you’re working or retired, here’s a look at four types of health insurance for any stage of your life.

Choosing the right health insurance plan for you

Here's a quick comparison of the four kinds of health insurance – personal health insurance, disability insurance, critical illness insurance and long-term care insurance. We’ll look at what they cover, when and how they pay, and who should consider them.

  Personal health insurance* Disability insurance* Critical illness insurance* Long-term care insurance*
What it covers
  • Medical, dental and other healthcare expenses not covered or not fully covered by your provincial or employer plan.
  • Replacement of part of your income if you can't work.
  • Expenses related to coping with and recovering from a covered critical illness
  • Cost of your care over an extended period.
When it pays a  benefit
  • When you incur eligible expenses.
  • When you can't work (as defined by your policy).
  • When you're diagnosed with one of the illnesses listed in your policy.
  • When you can't perform two or more activities of daily living. Or, when you need ongoing supervision because your mental abilities have weakened.
How it pays a benefit
  • Reimbursement for eligible expenses that you submit.
  • A regular monthly payment.
  • A lump-sum cash payment
  • Reimbursement for your expenses. Or a regular payment to help cover the cost of care.
You should consider it if…
  • You're a small business owner, self-employed or a contract worker.
  • You're leaving your group plan because you've retired or been let go.
  • You don't have group insurance.
  • You're a working-age adult who relies on your income.
  • You want to help protect your assets during recovery from a critical illness.
  • You want to provide lifetime protection for your children or grandchildren.
  • You want options for your care and treatment.
  • You want to protect your assets for retirement and/or to leave to your heirs.
  • You want flexibility and control so you won't have to rely on the government or depend on family members for your care.
  • You want the freedom and ability to choose the level of care you need.
Learn More

*Please note: To qualify for any of these insurance plans, you must meet the policy’s requirements.

Talk to an advisor for help

Not sure which type of health insurance plan is right for you? An advisor can help you understand the different products available. They can also explain how these products fit together and the protection they provide against specific financial risks.

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