Britain’s four biggest critical illnesses take more than £15bn a year out of the UK economy, research shows.
The impact of cancer on UK workers alone causes a £9.3bn impact to the economy, according to the study by Legal & General.
Overall, cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), strokes and coronary heart disease have a combined impact on productivity to the tune of £15.2bn.
This is caused by people withdrawing from the workforce or from ongoing complications affecting their ability to work full-time.
The research found that more than a fifth (22%) of the financial impact caused by cancer, around £2.1bn, is linked to employees still in work but being affected by consequences of critical illnesses, such as fatigue and post-traumatic stress.
Though the biggest single impact comes from premature deaths (£5.2bn), a further £2bn hit to the UK workforce came as a result of employees who had to stop working. This group was made up of around 57,000 cancer sufferers on Employment Support Allowance, but also an estimated 26,000 of diagnosed workers who had left employment altogether.
Coronary heart disease and strokes cause a financial impact of £2.8bn and £1.9bn respectively.
MS, whilst much less prevalent amongst UK workers, has a disproportionate effect on the UK workforce when compared to the number of sufferers. Around 80% of the £1.14bn impact to the economy came from employees having to leave the workforce.
John Summerfield, protection director at The Mortgage Broker Ltd, said although diseases like cancer and strokes have a major impact on the economy, the effects of these conditions are much more immediate, worrying and potentially financially damaging for the individuals diagnosed with them.
“Being diagnosed with a critical illness means that people often have to take time off work to recover, which has a financial impact through loss of earnings and the added worry of struggling to pay monthly bills or the mortgage,” he explained.
The research also found that employees returning to work after a stroke could see a loss of around £7,300 in annual earnings.
The financial shock of cancer was less, with the average UK worker in their 50s seeing their income cut by £3,800 a year.
Craig Brown, director, intermediary at Legal & General, said the lump sum paid out by critical illness insurance can be invaluable in helping consumers to manage their financial circumstances in their time of need.
“By helping to pay off essential monthly outgoings, these policies can help remove added worry about money at a time when individuals need to focus on their recovery,” he added.