Health Insurance For cancer: How to prepare right now

By: | Published: July 12, 2016 6:07 AM

Our fast-paced lifestyles have made it mandatory for us to have both or at least one of these covers along with our health insurance plan. While women are nearly 20% more susceptible to cancer such as cervical and breast, men are more prone to other serious lifestyle diseases such as heart, kidney etc

The India is home to some of the most dreaded diseases in the world. And cancer is no exception. So, what do you do when you or someone in your family is unfortunately diagnosed with cancer? Your regular health insurance will not be sufficient as it can at best cover some hospital charges up to the pre-decided cap.

A few insurers have come up with special covers for cancer. These plans are specifically designed to cater to the insurance needs of a patient at different stages of cancer. There is critical illness cover that covers cancer along with other life-threatening diseases. However, that cover won’t be suffice if you are diagnosed with cancer.

Early stage cancer

A critical illness does cover cancer, but if you read the fine-print, you will realise only a cancer of certain severity is covered in such a plan. Thus, if you are diagnosed with cancer at an early stage, your critical illness cover may not be of much help to you.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, a surgery in the initial stage can cost nearly 8 lakh. Cancer treatment on an average can cost up to R20 lakh depending upon the type and stage of cancer. For instance, the doctor’s visit for a cancer patient can cost nearly R20,000 every month. This along with the drug called Herceptin, which costs over R50,000, can alone burn a hole in your pocket.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer at stage two, you will spend an additional over R3 lakh for radiology. These are all out-of-hospital medical costs, which is not usually covered under health insurance. Now let’s assume that you have both health and critical illness policy of Rs 10 lakh. So can any of your cover be of any use? The answer is no. This is so because a health cover will take care of only in-hospital costs while a critical illness plan covers cancer at advance stages i.e. Stage three or four. Hence, in such a scenario, a special cover for cancer can really be a savior.

The reason being that critical illness cover is a fairly new product and is first generation in the market. The idea behind launching that cover was to primarily provide financial cushion against the big expenses incurred on the treatment of life-threatening critical illnesses including cancer.

The product hasn’t updated itself with the subsequent product innovation in the insurance category and rising healthcare costs, and is expected to get a makeover and provide more coverage for cancer. However for now, it’s less suited for cancer treatment.

In India, 70% of people find it difficult to meet expenses for cancer treatment, especially in the early stages of the disease. This was the reason, insurers came up with cancer policies, which primarily provide financial protection to those who have been diagnosed with this deadly disease in the early stage as well.

More affordable

The cancer plan is comparatively more affordable. This is so because cancer covers only offers financial protection against cancer and hence the premiums are lower than what you would pay for a critical illness plan. For instance, a critical illness cover of R20 lakh for a 35-year-old comes with a premium of as low as R5,000, which can go up to R30,000 annually. On the other hand, a cancer policy for a

35-year-old will cost the policyholder anywhere between R1,500 and R4,500.

What you must remember

While most forms of cancer such as lung, breast and brain cancer among others are covered under a cancer-special policy, skin cancer has been excluded. This is primarily because skin cancer usually doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. Skin cancer has a high survival rate and can be nipped from the bud, if detected at early stages.

However, if the skin cancer turns out to be malignant, i.e. invasive malignant melanoma then the insurer will have to cover it under both critical and cancer policy as it becomes life-threatening.

The only flipside with cancer plans is that it only covers one type of disease, which in this day and age is not enough. I am hoping for more reforms on critical illness product front, as one is more prone to different types of diseases. For however today, it’s a wonderful opportunity for you to cover yourself against cancer at a cost of as low as R3 a day.

Our fast-paced lifestyles have made it mandatory for each one of us to have both or at least one of these covers along with our health insurance plan.

While women are nearly 20% more susceptible to cancer such as cervical and breast, men are more prone to other serious lifestyle diseases such as heart, kidney etc. It is best that you weigh your own circumstances and prepare for the future now.

The writer is co-founder  & CEO, PolicyBazaar.com

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