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any illness that requires lengthy hospitalization, extremely expensive therapies, or other care that would deplete a family's financial resources, unless covered by special medical insurance policies. In Canada, catastrophic illness is covered by Medicare.
catastrophic illnessA morbid condition that results in health care costs that exceed a person's income, or which compromise financial independence, reducing him/her to subsistence or near-poverty levels; CIs are usually life-threatening and may leave significant residual disability–eg, AIDS, major burns, trauma with residual paralysis or coma, and terminal CA
An unusually prolonged or complex illness, esp. one that causes severe organ dysfunction or threatens life. Catastrophic illnesses often make exceptional demands on patients, caregivers, families, and health care resources.
See also: illness