Work and Wellbeing · 23 November 2018

Critical illnesses costing UK employers £15.2bn in lost productivity every year

Critical illness
The impact of cancer alone costs the economy £9.3bn a year

Critical illnesses such as cancer and heart disease are costing the UK economy billions of pounds a year.

Insurer Legal & General’s ‘Cost of Critical Illness’ research found that the impact of cancer, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), strokes and coronary heart disease on workers have a combined impact on productivity of £15.2bn.

The impact of cancer alone costs £9.3bn to the economy.

The research found that more than a fifth of the financial impact caused by cancer is linked to employees still in work but being affected by well-known consequences of critical illnesses, such as fatigue and post-traumatic stress.

Though the biggest single impact comes from premature deaths at £5.2bn, a further £2bn hit to the UK workforce came as a result of employees who had to stop working.

Highlighting the financial uncertainty critical illnesses can cause, the research said that this group was made up of around 57,000 cancer sufferers on Employment Support Allowance, but also an estimated 26,000 of diagnosed workers who had left employment altogether.

Coronary Heart Disease and strokes also have a significant effect causing a financial impact of £2.8bn and £1.9bn respectively. Indeed, the research found that employees returning to work after a stroke could see a loss of around £7,300 in annual earnings.

MS, whilst much less prevalent amongst UK workers, has a disproportionate effect on the UK workforce when compared to the number of sufferers. Around 80% of the £1.14bn impact to the economy came from employees having to leave the workforce.

L&G said the findings highlighted the importance of employees taking out critical illness cover.

“Whilst it’s clear that diseases like cancer and strokes have a major impact on the economy, the effects of these conditions are much more immediate, worrying and potentially financially damaging for the individuals diagnosed with them,” said John Summerfield, Protection Director, The Mortgage Broker.

“Being diagnosed with a critical illness means that people often have to take time off work to recover, which has a financial impact through loss of earnings and the added worry of struggling to pay monthly bills or the mortgage.”

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