Like millions of Canadians, Tim Potter is living with a serious medical condition that has made it difficult, if not impossible, to secure meaningful life insurance.
The Halifax father of seven was diagnosed 26 years ago with Type 1 diabetes.
While his wife quickly obtained insurance coverage a decade ago, the stay-at-home dad was denied coverage. It has left him worried about his wife and young family’s welfare when he’s no longer around.
“I feel like I would be leaving her and the kids quite empty-handed if anything were to happen to me,” he said.
Potter feels stressed because all he’s been able to secure is a couple of policies that will pay just enough to cover his funeral expenses.
Securing affordable life insurance is a growing problem as more Canadians are diagnosed with serious ailments.
Half of Canadians will develop cancer at some point in their lives, the Canadian Cancer Society says. The Heart and Stroke foundation points to an increase in the number of people with heart conditions and strokes. And about eight per cent of Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that’s growing in frequency amid an aging population.
“It’s an epidemic,” said Joan King, director of government relations for Diabetes Canada. The number of Canadians with diabetes has doubled since 2000, she noted.
As well as diabetes, people with severe mental illness, HIV, heart conditions and other serious ailments can be left in the lurch. Other red flags for insurers can include travel to certain parts of the world or risky recreational activities.
There’s also a trend of people needing insurance for a longer period because they have families later in life or haven’t paid off their mortgage yet.
“The issue of pre-existing conditions is a bit of a growing issue because people are needing term insurance longer in their life because of the financial pressures today,” said Kevan Penonzek, manager of Insurance Direct Canada in Vancouver.
“They’re working later, they’re carrying debt longer, mortgage longer so they feel like they need term insurance to cover off that risk. And so it becomes harder when you’re 60 to 70, because people then have health issues.”
It’s a definite problem, says Michael Aziz, co-president of Canada Protection Plan, which seeks to fill the void left by traditional insurers by offering coverage that doesn’t require a medical examination.
Aziz said more carriers are adopting its simplified approach that offers certain coverage within days of answering a detailed questionnaire.
“We’ve seen our premium numbers or policies grow by 40 to 50 per cent for the last five years so that’s a good sign and we’ve seen other carriers starting to look at the non-medical space as well,” he said.
But the simplified coverage comes at a price. Premiums can be 50 to 300 per cent higher than traditional term policies and coverage limits are lower.
Insurance companies have become much more liberal about covering people with health issues, said Lorne Marr, director of new business for LSM Insurance, which owns No Medical Exam Life Insurance.
“Years ago if you had diabetes … you were declined for insurance, but now most, almost all, diabetics can get some form of life insurance,” he said.
Marr said the situation changed because insurance companies have more data to evaluate life expectancy while medications and treatments have also improved.
“There used to be only one or two companies offering these type of policies, now there’s probably 10 different companies.”
No Medical Exam Life Insurance offers two forms of term insurance — Guaranteed Issue for people facing, for example, a serious cancer diagnosis; and Simplified Issue, a less expensive policy used for people with more manageable and less severe conditions.
With new and better treatments come changes from insurers. Canada Protection Plan has followed Manulife and Sun Life, which in 2016 began to offer insurance to some HIV-positive clients.
Traditional carriers require these patients have five years of stability on anti-retroviral therapy, an undetectable viral load and receive treatment by an HIV expert. Manulife precludes those with hepatitis, a history of intravenous drug use or other substance abuse, history of coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer and AIDS-defining illness.
Canada Protection Plan doesn’t have these restrictions and offers $50,000 of coverage. That’s much less than the million-dollar limit by Sun Life and up to $2 million for Manulife applicants aged 30 to 65.
Still, not everyone benefits from the insurers’ more open approach. Intravenous drug users, for example are denied coverage, which can be a problem for some people living with HIV, said Tammy Yates, executive director of community advocacy group Realize.
She argues that insurance companies should shorten the five-year treatment requirement to two years since medical advancements have improved life expectancy.
The history of the illness and the public stigma towards those living with HIV has ensured that very few people even contemplate seeking insurance coverage, said Shaun Proulx, a Realize board member.
In the early days of the illness, there was no chance of even considering insurance, he said.
“But there was a frustrating period after that when people were living longer and having healthier lives and were still being denied insurance as well and it made no sense.”
Proulx says the insurance companies aren’t doing enough to educate those living with HIV about availability.
“That’s an enormous amount of business that they’re leaving behind on the table.”
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
WHO 'very impressed' with Chinese response to coronavirus outbreak – National Post
GENEVA — The World Health Organization (WHO) is “very impressed” with the Chinese response to the global coronavirus outbreak so far, a senior official said on Wednesday, adding that the world had reached a critical point in efforts to tackle the disease.
“They are taking extraordinary measures in the face of what is an extraordinary challenge,” said Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme who accompanied the body’s chief on a trip to China this week.
“We are at an important juncture in this event. We believe these chains of transmission can still be interrupted.” (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge Editing by Gareth Jones)
Airlines suspend flights, extraction efforts in the works as Wuhan coronavirus infects thousands – CityNews Vancouver
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The death toll from the novel coronavirus has now hit triple digits as more and more cases pop up in over a dozen countries.
Just this week, the first presumptive case of the virus was confirmed in B.C., after two others were confirmed in Ontario days earlier.
Watch: Presumptive case of coronavirus in Vancouver
Around 6,000 people have been infected in mainland China and a number of other countries thus far, surpassing the number of people infected by the SARS outbreak in the country back in the early 2000s. At least 132 people have reportedly died.
In an effort to contain the outbreak, China has cut off all access to Wuhan — the epicentre of the outbreak — as well as dozen other cities.
This comes as some airlines have moved to cancel select flights to the region. Air Canada has cancelled some flights to China over the coming weeks, while several other airlines said they were reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel to the area drops because of the outbreak.
British Airways announced it was suspending all flights to and from mainland China after the U.K. government warned against unnecessary travel to the country amid a virus outbreak.
Back in Canada, images have been circulating online, showing people with large water bottles worn on their heads and faces, some suggesting to protect against coronavirus.
While Vancouver International Airport hasn’t confirmed this was actually happening, it did say in a tweet, “Obviously not an effective measure.”
— Vancouver International Airport (@yvrairport) January 28, 2020
As airlines and travellers adjust their schedules because of the outbreak, the federal government is mulling over just how to get Canadians who want to come home out of China.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says that every Canadian who has reached out for consular assistance will receive it, adding about 250 Canadians have registered with Global Affairs Canada to say they are in Wuhan. The federal government says 126 of them have asked for help to get home.
Canada is “looking at all options,” Champagne says. Meanwhile, Canada’s health minister says she doesn’t yet know whether any of the Canadians in quarantine in China are sick or would be quarantined if they do come home.
The spread of the new form of coronavirus has even impacted some international sporting events. A number of them have been postponed in China and Olympic qualifying tournaments are being taken elsewhere as a precaution.
-With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press
People are wearing water jugs over their heads against coronavirus (PHOTOS) – Vancouver Courier
While it isn’t uncommon to see people wearing face masks during an outbreak, some people take more extreme measures to protect themselves.
Earlier today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed B.C.’s first novel coronavirus case: a man in his 40s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and recently returned from a trip to Wuhan, China.
Despite this, Dr. Henry says the risk of infection of the virus in B.C. is “still extremely low.” Nevertheless, some people are still concerned about contracting the virus in the Lower Mainland.
A person was photographed at Vancouver International Airport wearing what looks like a plastic container on their head and a mask over their mouth. In an image from the back, it appears that the person has cut a hole into the container in order to make room for their ponytail.
Lynne Carter posted the images to Facebook at roughly 2 p.m. on Jan. 28, captioning, “Fresh out of YVR. The latest anti-virus shields made with old water jugs.”
Carter also included a third photo of an adult with a child who are both wearing bottles on their heads.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention does not advise wearing containers on your head to prevent a coronavirus infection.
And while there are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection, the CDC advises that you may be able to reduce your risk of infection by doing the following:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
The World Health Organization stopped short of calling it a global health emergency last week, while officials here have said Canadians are at low risk of contracting the illness.
Nevertheless, experts stress the need to be vigilant and prepared for signs of infection. If you have mild cold-like symptoms, health officials encourage you to stay home while sick and avoid close contact to help protect others. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and be sure to throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands. Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
Here are some things for people in Canada to know about the coronavirus.
— With files from Nicholas Johansen / Castanet.
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