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  • Writer's pictureRod Reed

Report: 1 in 5 people will be living with a major illness in 2040

New research suggests more people will be living with a major illness in the future and it could place pressure on health services. It may also have implications for household finances over the long term.


A report from the Health Foundation's REAL Centre suggests 9.1 million people will be living with a major illness by 2040 – 2.5 million more than in 2019.


The four-year study analysed 20 health conditions and projected how their prevalence would change. Researchers expect 19 out of the 20 health conditions to affect more people by 2040, including a significant 30% rise in the number of people living with cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease.


Around 80% of the projected increase is due to an ageing population, but other factors, such as obesity, will also have a negative effect.


The researchers expect some health improvements, including fewer people smoking and lower cholesterol rates, but other concerns outweigh them.


The research estimates that almost 1 in 5 people will be managing a major illness in 2040. It could have significant implications for the NHS, care services, and household budgets.


Facing health challenges in your family can be difficult, but there may be some steps you could take that might provide peace of mind.


1. Assess if health insurance could be right for your family


Anita Charlesworth, director of the REAL Centre, explained the growth in major illness will place “additional demand on all parts of the NHS, particularly primary care”.


It could mean patients face longer wait times to see a professional or for tests they need. For some families, taking out health insurance may provide comfort. If you or your family is worried about health issues, it could mean you’re able to access services quicker.


You’ll need to pay regular premiums for health insurance. The cost will depend on a range of factors, including the provider you choose, your health, and what cover you’d like.


You should ensure you understand how comprehensive your health insurance would be when you’re comparing different options.


2. Calculate your financial resilience


A serious illness doesn’t just affect your health, it could harm your finances too.


Depending on your circumstances, being diagnosed with an illness could affect your income. It may mean you need to take time off work to recover or that you decide to retire early. How would your finances cope if you suffered from a serious health condition?


Financial protection could provide you with a regular income or lump sum if ill health affected you. It could mean you can meet essential outgoings and even keep your long-term plans on track.


There are several different types of financial protection, which would pay out under different circumstances. The level of cover will also vary between providers, so, if you decide to take out financial protection, it’s crucial you understand what’s included.


You’ll need to pay premiums or the cover from financial protection will lapse. A variety of factors affect the cost of financial protection, from your age to the size of the potential payout. The cost can vary between providers, so shopping around may be useful.


3. Consider your care plan


The report suggests an ageing population will contribute to more people living with an illness. As a result, an increasing number of people may need support later in life.


While it can be challenging to consider needing to rely on care services in the future, creating a plan now may be beneficial. It could mean you have more choices if care is necessary and improve your wellbeing. Setting out what your preferences would be could help you and your family choose care that’s right for you.


As most people need to pay for at least a portion of their care costs, it may also be wise to consider the potential bill. Earmarking some of your wealth for possible care costs may be a practical step you could take in case you face health challenges in the future.


Contact us to talk about your long-term plan


If you have questions about how you could use your wealth to provide peace of mind if you or your family face health challenges, please contact us. We can arrange a meeting to talk about your concerns and the steps you may take as part of a wider financial plan.


Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.


Note that financial protection plans typically have no cash in value at any time and cover will cease at the end of the term. If premiums stop, then cover will lapse.


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