Cancer Tops List of Health Concerns Among Middle-Income Americans, New Study Says

Carmel, IN., May 29, 2013– Cancer is the No. 1 health concern among our country’s middle-income Americans, according to a new study released by Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions (IWS).

The study, Middle-Income America’s Perspectives on Critical Illness and Financial Security, which surveyed 1,001 Americans ages 30 to 66 with an annual household income of between $35,000 and $99,999, found that 79% are somewhat concerned or very concerned about a cancer diagnosis, followed by heart disease (74%), stroke (70%), and Alzheimer’s disease (60%).

The specific cancer types that elicit the most concern correlate heavily with gender. Prostate, colon and lung cancer are the largest concerns for men; for women, breast cancer is the predominant concern.

Highest concerns by critical illness type

Those concerned about cancer and heart disease feel most vulnerable to healthcare costs and the life-threatening nature of these illnesses. People most concerned about stroke and Alzheimer’s/dementia, by contrast, feel vulnerable on quality-of-life issues and being able to maintain an independent life after a diagnosis and treatment.

The study also found that people tend to be more concerned about a loved one being diagnosed than themselves. Nearly half (47%) say they would be more concerned if a parent or child were diagnosed with cancer than themselves (38%).

“Practice healthy habits and seek regular care,” said Barbara Stewart, President of Washington National Insurance Company. “A portion of critical illness diagnoses are attributable to genetics but others are attributable as result of unhealthy habits. Taking control of your wellness today may help to improve your odds for a long, healthy life.”

External treatment sources

Many middle-income Americans equate health with wealth. About half (53%) strongly agree with the proposition that “people with more money receive higher-quality medical treatment”. Uninsured consumers and African-Americans are more likely to feel that wealth influences treatment quality.

If faced with a critical illness diagnosis, about 7-in-10 say they probably would receive treatment in their own city or town, but half (54%) would seek care elsewhere if access or cost were not a concern.

The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic were frequently mentioned—especially in the Midwest—when they were asked where they would prefer to receive treatment if cost or access were not an issue.

External information sources

As sources of treatment information, healthcare providers and facilities are considered more than four times more important than other sources.

For financial information concerning health coverage, middle-income Americans consider health insurance companies most important, followed by healthcare providers and facilities.

No more than 10% would heavily rely on the Internet as their primary resource about treatment option or financial information.


Middle-Income America’s Perspectives on Critical Illness and Financial Security, a study from the Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions, was conducted in January 2013 by Zeldis Research, an independent research firm. The full report can be viewed at

A cross-generational nationwide sample of 1,001 middle-income Americans ages 30 to 66 with an annual household income of between $35,000 and $99,999 participated in the internet-based survey. Females and males each represented approximately 50% of survey participants.

None of the respondents had ever been diagnosed with any of the following critical illnesses: Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. Respondents were excluded if they had Medicare, Medicaid or Medicare supplement insurance. Significant subsample differences were tested at the 95% confidence level.

About the Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions

The Institute for Wellness Solutions is Washington National Insurance Company’s research and consumer education program. The organization sponsors studies and supports awareness campaigns to help Americans meet the challenges of critical illnesses. Specifically, the institute provides insight and practical advice about wellness and illness prevention, illness care and treatment, and managing the total costs—financial and personal—of critical illnesses. To learn more, visit

About Washington National Insurance Company

Washington National, a subsidiary of CNO Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: CNO), has helped Americans since 1911 to protect themselves and their families from the financial hardship that often comes with critical illnesses, accidents and loss of life. The company remains dedicated to helping middle-income Americans who work hard and want to protect themselves and their loved ones. To learn more, visit


February 22, 2016 HOPE Donates $50,000 to American Red Cross to Support National Disaster Rel...
February 16, 2016 HOPE Donates $100,000 to American Cancer Society for Genetic Research in Lu...
August 26, 2015 A.M. Best Upgrades Ratings of CNO Financial Group to A-...
September 30, 2014 Cancer Survivors Face Lasting Financial Struggles Long After Treatment Ends...
April 10, 2014 CNO Financial Group Recognized by Forbes as One of America's 50 Most Trustw...
December 18, 2013 HOPE Donates $50,000 to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Deliver ...
November 07, 2013 HOPE Donates $100,000 to Support the American Cancer Society's National Res...
June 18, 2013 Perceived Risk of Critical Illness Diagnosis High Among Middle-Income Ameri...
May 29, 2013 Cancer Tops List of Health Concerns Among Middle-Income Americans, New Stud...
May 07, 2013 New Study Finds Alarming Number of Middle-Income Americans Inadequately Pre...
January 10, 2013 Gold Medal Gymnast Shannon Miller Teams Up with Washington National to Advo...
October 23, 2012 Washington National Honored with Two 2012 W3 Awards For Creative Web Excell...
August 22, 2012 Washington National Receives ‘Award of Excellence’ from IFCA...
May 10, 2012 Washington National Recognized as Official Honoree by Prestigious Webby Awa...
February 01, 2012 Washington National Title Sponsor of Wounded Warrior Amputees vs. NFL Stars...
November 17, 2011 Washington National Launches New Website...
June 14, 2011 Washington National Insurance Company Reinvents Term Life...

» More

News search



Media contacts

Barbara Ciesemier
Phone: (312) 396-7461
Email Barbara

Jennifer Born
Phone: (312) 396-7089
Email Jennifer



Policies underwritten by Washington National Insurance Company, home office: Carmel, IN. These policies have limitations and exclusions. For costs and complete details of coverage, contact an agent.

Policies, benefits and riders are subject to state availability. Not all listed options, benefits and riders are available on all policies, and some may have additional cost.

Washington National Insurance Company is not licensed and does not solicit business in the state of New York.
» Additional Illinois State resident information
» Additional New York State resident information
» Confidential insurance communication request form