Three million people over 50 live with a serious illness in the UK – report from Engage Mutual reveals

For the first time the number of over-50s living with a serious illness in the UK has been estimated in a report commissioned by Harrogate-based Engage Mutual.

The over 50s life cover provider worked with The International Longevity Centre -UK (ILC-UK), the leading UK think tank on longevity and demographic change, to produce the  ‘Serious Illness in the Over 50s’ report.

It shows an estimated 2.6 million people aged 50 plus are living with a serious illness in England and an estimated  3.1 million across the UK as a whole, equating to 13.9 per cent of the age-group based on the latest ELSA data captured in 2012 and released in 2014.

The report also forecasts this could increase to 3.4 million by 2025 in England and four million in the UK, as those in the ‘baby-boomer’ generation hit their seventies.

Engage recognised as life expectancy continues to rise, and advances continue to be made in medicine, there would be an increase in its customers living with a serious illness.

That is why it is the only 50s life cover provider to include serious illness cover and the mutual has a 100% claims payment record since it launched the option.

It means customers have the option to claim 20 per cent of their cover after having a policy for two years if they are diagnosed with a serious illness.

“We aim to make the process as simple as we possibly can so our customers are not put through hoops at what is a very distressing time and we pay within a few days of receiving a valid claim,” said sales director Stuart Tragheim.

The ‘Serious Illness in the Over 50s’  report also reveals different trends in serious illness over the last decade. 

Cardiovascular events (heart attack or stroke) show a general downward trend since 2002 which may be due to greater awareness of risk factors that have led to lifestyle changes, as well advances in medicines and preventative care, according to the report.

However, the overall number of people living with cancer has increased in the same timeframe, similarly for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

If the current trend continues, ILC-UK predicts the number of over 50s in England with a serious illness could rise from 13.9 per cent to 14.8 per cent in 2025.

In an alternative model, the think tank speculates numbers could stabilise around the 12.5 per cent mark if the 50-80 age-group remains healthier for longer.

In both projections, however, the ILC-UK says the number of over 50s living with a serious illness is expected to rise in the next decade as the baby-boomers age.

“This is a fascinating study around the numbers of those living with serious illness and if anything we have been very conservative with the numbers affected because of gaps in data.

“We must recognise that serious illness will continue to affect ever growing numbers of older people in the future,” said David Sinclair, ILC-UK Director.

The report also reveals that the 60-64 age-group has the highest percentage of people who are first diagnosed with a serious illness.

As well as the unique serious illness benefit, Engage over 50s customers are also eligible for free nurse counselling from RedArc to help them through diagnoses and treatment for a serious and terminal illness.

They can also apply for a personal grant of up to £500 to help with unforeseen medical expenses, including specialist equipment, respite care and home modifications, from Engage’s award winning and unique Foundation.

Engage’s over 50s life cover plan covers the following serious and terminal illnesses: cancer, heart attack, stroke, benign brain tumour, blindness, deafness, loss of speech, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, coma, kidney failure, loss of a hand or foot, major organ transplant, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, third degree burns and key surgeries including aorta graft and breastbone surgery to treat heart disease.

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