About 36% of U.S. full-time workers say they have less than $1,000 in savings – and 8% say they are not sure how much they have.

A unit of MetLife Inc., New York (NYSE:MET), has published those statistics in a summary of results from a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. residents ages 25 to 55, including 508 full-time employees.

MetLife also commissioned a related survey of 1,002 U.S. residents ages 25 to 55 affected by cancer, a heart attack or stroke between 6 months and 5 years before the survey. The survey participant or spouse had to be the patient, and the patient had to have health insurance at the time of diagnosis.

MetLife found that participants affected by a critical illness lost $12,000 in family income during the first year after the illness hit and faced an average of $3,000 in out-of-pocket medical costs related to the illness.

MetLife also found that participants in the general survey are poorly prepared to handle a critical illness without help from critical illness insurance.

About 18% said they have no emergency savings, and another 18% said they have just $1 to $999 in emergency savings.

About 24% said they would have to borrow from friends and relatives to cope with the effects of a serious illness, and 24% said they have no idea how they would cope.

Few of the full-time workers knew what critical illness insurance is, but, once the product concept was explained, 58% said they would be interested in buying the product.

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