Cancer is one of the most deadliest amongst all illnesses and the cases have been rising at an alarming rate. According to an analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington School of Medicine published in JAMA journal, cancer cases in India have risen at an average annual rate of 1.1-2% from 2010-2019. Moreover, the treatment cost of cancer has been rising exponentially. The average cost of cancer treatment in India is Rs 5 lakh. However, this cost can go up to Rs 27,50,000.
In a tier-I city, an oncologist’s consultation fee can cost around Rs 800- 3000 per visit. Tests are conducted regularly for early detection of cancer. A mammography costs around Rs 1,000- Rs 4,000 whereas a PAP test can cost around Rs 500-Rs 2,500. Besides, you would need funds for biopsy, blood test, treatment cost, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immuno therapy, post treatment costs, follow-up checks, chronic maintenance medication and rehabilitation. For a middle class person these costs would cause a significant dip in personal savings if they were to be borne-out-of-pocket.
Therefore, having a comprehensive health insurance plan is the need of the hour which can provide much-needed financial support to cover such exorbitant costs. More importantly, you should have a cancer care plan that can provide adequate coverage specifically for cancer-related treatment. It covers everything from hospitalization to rehabilitation for the illness.
Cancer plans are defined benefit plans that cover various type of cancer. These plans provide better coverage and features as compared to a critical illness plan. A standalone cancer special plan is highly recommended for people with a family history of this critical illness.
Before buying a cancer care plan, consider the points mentioned below:
Check the waiting period of the policy. It is the period in which the policyholder can’t raise medical claims. It typically ranges from 90-180 days from the policy inception date. Opt for a plan that has a lower waiting period for the treatment to be covered expeditiously.
Check the coverage for stages
Check the coverage for cancer stages being offered in the policy. It should cover all stages of cancer and not just a few. There are three stages of cancer – pre-cancer, early stage and major stage. Most policies give 100% payout in the major stage of cancer. In the pre-cancer stage, a certain percentage of sum assured is paid. It varies from policy to policy.
Types of cancer covered
One should check whether all types of cancer are covered in the policy. Some types of cancer are excluded such as skin cancer, cancer directly or indirectly caused or contributed to by sexually transmitted diseases or HIV.
Cancer is an expensive illness and a long term ordeal. Therefore, you should opt for a plan that offers a high sum assured. Take into the account the cost of diagnostic, chemotherapy, biopsy and other tests when deciding the cover amount of the policy.
Look for a longer policy term
Consider an insurance plan that offers a longer policy term, so that the risk is covered for a longer period of time. Several cancer plans cover till the age of 80 years.
Check for any co-payments for cancer related procedures imposed by insurers. If you buy a policy with a co-pay clause, you will have to share a certain percentage of claims with the insurer.
Take note of Survival period
Survival period is the time after first diagnosis of the disease during which the coverage doesn’t happen. If a person survives this period, then he would continue to require palliative care and have medical expenses covered. If not, then the cover is not required. The survival period can range from 30 days to 6 months as per experts.
Having a cancer special plan is a must to overcome the financial burden if diagnosed with this critical illness. A single health insurance won’t be enough to provide adequate coverage for a critical illness like cancer. Before opting for a cancer plan, you must note the terms and conditions and choose a policy accordingly.
(By Venkatesh Naidu, CEO, Bajaj Capital Insurance Broking Ltd)