What are the most common critical illnesses in Australia?

Published 04 Jul 2017

Australia is an ageing nation, with life expectancy on the rise and people enjoying longer, healthier lives. The Productivity Commission estimates that the proportion of the country aged 75 and over will jump to 14.4 per cent by 2060, up from just 6.4 per cent in 2012.

Nevertheless, critical illnesses still cause millions of people health concerns each year, often resulting in physical, emotional and financial pressure for those who have to take time off work.

Critical illness cover is designed to provide financial support for those who suffer from certain diseases, although some policyholders may need to seek the services of an experienced law firm if their claims are rejected.

But what are the most common reasons for ill health in Australia? To answer that question, we'll take a closer look at figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Health burdens in Australia

According to the AIHW, chronic diseases are the biggest health burden in the country, contributing to 90 per cent of all deaths in 2011. Analysis of the 2007-08 National Health Survey showed that 35 per cent of Australians suffered from at least one of these chronic conditions:

  • Asthma;
  • Type 2 diabetes;
  • Coronary heart disease;
  • Cerebrovascular disease (such as strokes);
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • Arthritis;
  • Osteoporosis;
  • Depression; and
  • High blood pressure.

However, chronic diseases are not necessarily critical illnesses and may not be covered under insurance policies. Therefore, you should closely check your documentation to see whether particular diseases are included.

The most common critical illnesses that are likely to be covered are:

Cardiovascular disease (CVD): The AIHW said 22 per cent of Australians aged over 18 had CVD in 2011-12, making it one of the biggest health risks in the country.

Cancer: The chance of a patient being diagnosed with cancer before their 85th birthday in 2009 was 50 per cent for men and 33 per cent for women. However, survival rates for the disease have dramatically improved over the last three decades.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD): Approximately 10 per cent of over-18s in Australia had biomedical markers of CKD in 2011-12, the AIHW claimed. Most of these were showing early signs of the disease.

Cancer and CVD alone contributed to 59 per cent of deaths in Australia in 2010, with physical inactivity, poor diet and smoking the primary contributing factors.

Would you like to discuss critical illness claims in more detail? Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Superannuation Lawyers.

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