Serious illness can come with serious costs

Image caption: The average out-of-pocket medical cost for someone with a serious illness is about $6,500.

Serious illness can come with serious costs—above and beyond those covered by health insurance and disability coverage—from co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses for medical care, to lost pay, to even the need for extra child care.

In fact, the average out-of-pocket medical cost for someone with a serious illness is about $6,500, according to MetLife. One way to offset those costs, should they arise, is to buy critical illness insurance, offered to JHU employees by MetLife and managed by Mercer Voluntary Benefits.

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The insurance provides a lump sum payment—of $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000, depending on how much you purchased—if you or a covered dependent is diagnosed with cancer, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, or kidney failure, or require an organ transplant or coronary artery bypass graft. There's a smaller payment in the event you're diagnosed with a host of other covered illnesses.

"The really helpful thing about this is that you receive a lump sum payment that you can put toward anything—to pay your mortgage or utilities or child care—not just medical expenses," says Johns Hopkins benefits consultant Darlene Kurek. "It helps provide additional financial security during a time of illness."

Monthly rates for $10,000 in coverage start at $2.30 for a nonsmoker under the age of 25.

If you sign up when you're hired or during Annual Enrollment, you don't have to provide any medical information. And while you have to be actively working when you buy this insurance, you keep your coverage even if you leave JHU.

Managing Cancer at Work

In addition to offering critical illness insurance, JHU provides a comprehensive Managing Cancer at Work benefit to help employees who are working to prevent cancer, are dealing with a cancer diagnosis themselves, or are caring for a family member with cancer. Through the program—for which there is no charge—JHU employees dealing with cancer are connected to resources and a dedicated nurse navigator, who offers personalized guidance and support throughout the treatment process.

New this year, JHU has enhanced this benefit by easing access to online resources—you no longer need a PIN to log in to the program's website—and adding a second nurse navigator to help support faculty and staff and their loved ones. Look for more enhancements to be announced in the coming months.

Who's eligible: Full-time faculty, staff, and bargaining unit members who are actively at work can purchase critical illness insurance for themselves as well as for a spouse/domestic partner and dependent children up to age 26.

When do I sign up? At hire or during Annual Enrollment, Oct. 20 to Nov. 7, 2017.

How do I pay for it? Payroll deduction.