Lists of New Year’s resolutions are unavoidable during this time of year – both in print and across the blogosphere. The same can be said about industry forecasts. One such prognostication that will pique the interest voluntary benefit plan proponents involves a bullish outlook on critical-illness insurance (CII) for insurance brokers in 2011.

“With health reform in progress, now is the perfect time to stand out from the crowd with critical illness coverage,” opines Dan Steenerson, a principal of Disability Insurance Services, which offers three CII product variations alongside broker training and support.

Noting that CII coverage is still in the embryonic stage in the United States, he said in a recent news release that there’s little competition for this product line, which can be offered on a stand-alone basis or as supplemental income protection. He further described the lump-sum benefit as “helpful in closing the income gap during disability waiting periods. And because critical illness premiums are surprisingly affordable, there’s minimal buying resistance.”

With employees expected to help finance rising medical costs and pay more out-of-pocket costs in a post-health care reform environment, Steenerson noted that medical bills were the main culprit in more than 60% of personal bankruptcies in the United States as reported by Harvard University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2007. More than 75% of these bankruptcies involved insured middle-class families who were overwhelmed by medical debt.

The National Business Group on Health has launched an ambitious, three-year initiative aimed at helping employers design benefit plans that reflect the latest scientific information and expert recommendations on cancer treatment and prevention. In partnership with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a not-for-profit alliance of the world’s leading cancer centers, NBGH will develop a comprehensive set of resources for employers that will encompass the entire spectrum of cancer-related benefits and workplace programs.

Another emerging area in the worksite market is cancer insurance. Although more narrow in scope than CII, with which it sometimes competes, this product line could be bolstered by recent industry developments.

The National Business Group on Health, in partnership with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, has designed a comprehensive set of resources for cancer-related employee benefits and workplace programs. The groups’ “Employer’s Guide to Cancer Treatment and Prevention” will be based on clinical guidelines that include evidence-based recommendations for every aspect of the cancer-care continuum.

NBGH President and CEO Helen Darling said cancer was targeted “because some of these diseases have become much more important in health distribution.” Nearly 1.5 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2009, while more than 10 million Americans have a history of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer is the second-leading cause of long-term disability and sixth-leading cause of short-term disability.

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