One hundred years ago it was influenza, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases that were the big killers. The discovery of penicillin and the rise of antibiotics then revolutionised medical treatment and survival rates from those conditions.

By the mid twentieth century it was cardiovascular disease and cancers that became the greatest threat to longevity, until surgical and drug therapies gradually began to turn the tide.

The good news on survival
These days the increasing awareness on the importance of diet, improvements in screening tests and the impact of public health campaigns on issues such as smoking have added to the continuing advancements, while the range of treatment options is also expanding. This has led to steadily improving outcomes for those struck with the ‘modern day diseases’ such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Winning the battle against cancer
Cancer is a good case in point. Early detection, awareness about self-examination and the leaps forward in cancer research have had genuine impacts on the chances of surviving and living a normal life after the disease. Statistics on new cancer diagnoses between 2006 and 2010 paint an encouraging picture with the chances of surviving for at least 5 years rising to 66 per cent. This is up from a figure of 47 per cent in the period 1982–1987.1

Dr Michael Jefford, a clinical consultant to Cancer Council Australia, explains how to live healthy after cancer treatment

In the period 1982-1987 only 72 per cent of women had a five year survival rate from breast cancer, but this had risen to over 89 per cent of women by 2006-2010.1 For men the picture was equally encouraging on prostate cancer with 92 per cent of men in 2006-2010 surviving for five years, which was up from 57 per cent in the 1982-1987 period.1

Take heart on cardiovascular disease
The story on heart disease is equally becoming brighter. By 2009 63 per cent of people were surviving heart attack, compared with a 45 per cent survival rate in 1994.2

Stroke too has seen a particularly dramatic improvement with death rates in Australia falling by 70 per cent between 1979 and 2010.3

These figures are good news for those confronted by major diseases and many who go through the trauma of a major diagnosis may well go on to lead a normal healthy life. The question remains, however, on whether they will have the financial resources to maintain and enjoy a good standard of living after the hurdle of their disease has been overcome.

Insuring for life as well as death
Many people understand the importance of having life insurance to provide lifestyle security against the loss of a loved one. Life insurance is of no use at all, however, if a person survives a major illness and goes on to live a relatively normal life. This is where the value of trauma insurance comes into its own.

Trauma insurance generally pays out a lump sum benefit if a person is diagnosed with one of a range of specified medical conditions, (including heart disease, stroke and cancer), and goes on to survive the condition. This means the person has the financial resources to fund a range of lifestyle improvement options, such as paying out a mortgage, taking an extended sabbatical from work, enjoying an overseas holiday or making other improvements to lifestyle. It could be said that trauma insurance really is ‘living insurance’ to enable you to live life to the full after the emotional and physical upheaval of major illness.

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Having trauma insurance could allow you to take a well-deserved holiday after your treatment

Of course life insurance still holds a vital role in financial planning and security, but for a holistic financial plan it is important to cover for the increased chance of survival and the specific costs this will generate. Trauma insurance gives you the power to fight the battle against a major disease and the freedom to make positive choices for your future. A financial planner can help you to balance your financial risk protection strategy so that all risks and contingencies are covered adequately.

1Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: period estimates from 1982 to 2010.
2Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Trends in Cardiovascular Disease 2012.
3Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2013. Stroke and its management in Australia: an update. 

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