Cost of surviving catastrophic illness UPI 1/1/2013 12:21:05 AM SYRACUSE, N.Y., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The average cost of surviving a U.S. heart attack or stroke is $100,500, and much of it is not covered by standard health insurance, an insurance firm says. Dr. Polly Galbraith, vice president and chief medical director at Assurant Employee Benefits, an employee benefits and services insurance provider, said 30 years ago, the family of a victim of a heart attack or stroke was more likely to have to contend with the loss of a loved one. Advances in medicine, prevention, improvement in early detection and other healthcare innovations have led to higher survival rates of these and other critical illnesses, Galbraith said. In addition, the improved survival rate from catastrophic illnesses often comes with the necessity of continuing medical care and related expenses. "Despite having good insurance, I am many, many thousands of dollars in debt. It is not going to be easy to get out of," Steve, who did not wish to disclose his last name, said in a statement. "Until you're older, you think you're bullet proof. You are 42-years-old. You don't expect to get a pacemaker. You don't expect your heart to stop. You don't expect to be in an emergency room with your wife thinking you are going to die."