You’ve worked with your clients to build a holistic plan to help them retire their way. But everything can change in a split second when they’re diagnosed with an illness. Suddenly, they’re no longer able to work. The medical bills start adding up, compromising income for basic living expenses, and stalling monthly contributions to their retirement plan.

What are the chances?

The odds of this happening to the average Canadian are fairly high. Take diabetes for example. It’s estimated that by the year 2020, almost 10 per cent of the population will be diagnosed with diabetes.1 Rising obesity rates, inactive lifestyles, and an ageing population are all contributing factors.

Recognizing the connection between health and financial security, Sun Life Financial has stepped up as a major sponsor of diabetes research at the University Health Network. November is National Diabetes Month, making it an opportune time to start a discussion with clients about their health and financial future.

A person with diabetes typically has medical costs that are two to five times higher than those without the disease and can amount to $4,500 per year.2 Without insurance or government coverage, the direct costs associated with managing diabetes can include insulin, oral medications, lancets, glucose meters, glucose meter strips, insulin pumps, and dietary changes. Other costs for medical treatment can include transportation to health facilities, lodging, and child care.

There’s also the potential for substantial indirect costs such as increased insurance premiums, and the risks associated with missing work. Business owners also have to deal with decreased productivity, less earning potential and even lost income if early retirement or premature death comes into play.

And then there are the side effects of this disease. Diabetes can lead to many complications, including cardiovascular disease, impaired vision, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, oral disease and depression. These conditions can significantly impact a client’s quality of life, limit their working conditions, and increase their risk of death.3
Diabetes in Canada

How you can help

If you don’t already know, ask your clients about their family’s health. If there’s a history of diabetes, the odds of them developing it are higher.4 The time to discuss health insurance protection and its value to a holistic plan is before a diagnosis is made. Pay particular attention to clients who are contract workers or self-employed—they generally carry more financial burden and therefore have higher risks when considering income loss.

While it can be a difficult topic to discuss, planning for health expenses is as important as buying insurance for a house or saving for retirement. You can help your clients protect their retirement savings and guard against the difficulties of diabetes and other illnesses by offering them affordable coverage for day-to-day health expenses and unexpected medical emergencies with personal health insurance.

Statistics that support the need

The 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index report found the following:

  • 1 in 6 Canadians believes they’ll pay nothing for universal health care in retirement.
  • 44% of Canadians have a health condition for which they’re receiving treatment (high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid, mental health, etc.).
  • 60% are concerned that government cut backs to health coverage will occur in retirement.
  • 56% are uncertain which medical expenses are or will continue to be covered by the government in retirement.
  • Only 22% of Canadian respondents have made provisions for retirement for extra health care expenses regarding chronic disease.
  • 42% have had financial hardship as a result of a health event.

References to share with your clients:

You might also like…


2 Source – Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term care


4 Millar WJ, Young TK. Tracking diabetes: Prevalence, incidence and risk factors. Health Reports (Statistics Canada, Catalogue 82-003) 2003;14(3):35-47