What’s common between Lance Armstrong, Martina Navratilova, Yuvraj Singh, Sonali Bendre, Robert De Niro, and Sheryl Crow? Apart from being renowned in their field of work, they all have come up close with one of the deadliest diseases, cancer. This ailment has led to nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, i.e. an average of one in six deaths, as per the World Health Organization. As per the National Cancer Registry Programme of the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR), more than 1300 Indians succumb to cancer every day.
The alarming numbers represent the fact that the malady which was earlier a rarity is now becoming increasingly common. Hence, it is now paramount to prepare oneself and their family against one of the costliest diseases that can make the entire household financially fragile. For example, the cost of cancer treatment in the country can range from anywhere between INR Rs 5-25 lakhs. Thus, to save yourself from this exorbitant treatment, it is necessary to purchase cancer insurance coverage to offer monetary assistance against the disease. This World Cancer Day, here’s what you need to know about cancer cover in health insurance –
What is a Cancer Insurance Plan?
This coverage is designed to mitigate the expenditures of the policyholder against pricey cancer cure therapies that may arise at different stages, such as chemotherapy, hospitalization, surgery, radiation, etc., by offering a financial safety net.
Who should buy it?
Cancer insurance coverage is highly recommended for those people who have a family history of cancer. Furthermore, since this ailment has become a lifestyle more than a genetic disease, individuals with a sedentary lifestyle, or working in high-risk occupations such as mining, firefighters, pilots etc., should also buy it. Lastly, households with a single earning member should purchase it as an unfortunate diagnosis can lead to an unimaginable financial burden. Thus, it is beneficial to have a plan that will cover you well against the costs.
Types of plans
- Indemnity based Cancer plan
Besides providing lifelong coverage, indemnity based cancer plans also offer the benefit of annual renewal even after the claim. In this policy, the insured gets covered against the expenses incurred on hospitalization within the limits of sum assured. These plans also cover pre-hospitalisation expenses up to 30 days and post hospitalisation expenses up to 60 days from the date of discharge.
- Cancer Fixed Benefit plan
In the fixed benefit plan, the sum assured is paid to the policyholder upon the detection of cancer to provide coverage against loss of income. Also, most of these plans don’t mandate hospitalisation and cover all stages of cancer, providing compensation depending on the stage. Aside from paying a fixed lump sum amount, this plan also caters to the non-medical expenses which are a result of the absence of livelihood and are incurred during the recovery.
What should be considered before purchasing Cancer insurance coverage?
- Choose Maximum Sum Assured
This aspect is crucial as cancer comes with varied therapy costs. Hence, by choosing the maximum sum assured, the insured can stay untroubled on at least this factor and select the best cancer treatment from the best of doctors without worrying about the cost. Thus, a cancer insurance plan with a sum insured of at least Rs 15 -20 lakh is advisable.
- Check the Waiting Period
The waiting period, i.e. period during which you cannot file for a claim, is typical in insurance. Hence, when considering a cancer insurance policy, decide on the one with the minimum waiting timeframe. However, the usual waiting period is between 3-6 months in the Cancer insurance plan. For example, Future General Cancer Protect Plan is available for people between 18-65 years and children between 1-17 years. The sum assured of this plan is between Rs 10-40 lakh for adults and Rs 10 lakhs for children, and the waiting period is 180 days.
- What it means to have two policies
If you have a comprehensive health insurance policy along with a separate cancer insurance plan, it does not always mean extra coverage. Check if your policy has the ‘coordination of benefit’ clause, which means that one plan will not cover the expenses if they are covered under the other plan.
- Policy duration
Always consider the policy duration and look for an insurance plan that offers coverage for maximum age; some offer up to 80 years. It is a fact that cancer treatment is usually long, so the longer the tenure, the more the security.
- Premium waivers
Many Cancer insurance plans waive off the premium on the diagnosis, so choose the one with this feature. This will help the patient’s family as they will not be required to pay at critical times.
What’s not covered?
Cancer coverage is not eligible for those who have a pre-existing cancerous condition or are already impacted by cancer. Also, it does not cover skin cancer or sickness resulting from any congenital disease, biological, nuclear, or chemical contamination; contact with radiation or radioactivity from any non-diagnostic or therapeutic source cancer and those caused or contributed to by sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, or AIDS.
Cancer is a tough disease for the patient and their families. Apart from draining the person financially, it is also painful and brings many other physical changes to accept. But, with a Cancer Insurance Plan, one thing is assured that the policyholder will not have to break their savings or look for options like loans etc. thereby, giving their family extra protection.
So, go through the various available policies online and remember to read through the fine print. Also, choose a plan from a reliable and recognized company so that claim settlement is not an issue. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
By Amit Chhabra, Head- Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com