By Dr Sudha Reddy
When we hear the word Cancer, all of us freeze. That’s because, for the longest time, cancer was a fatal disease. Once diagnosed with it, people invariably succumbed to it. But over the last few decades, massive leaps have been made in the treatment of Cancer. Today, many Cancers are fully treatable, if diagnosed early. Advances in treatment have meant that people can recover and resume normal lives even after Cancer treatments.
According to a recent report by ICMR, cancer cases in India are expected to touch 15 lakhs by 2025. Hence, it is important to be prepared to tackle it. With medical costs increasing rapidly and treatments for illnesses like cancer demanding surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, or a combination of all, the treatment expenses can be very high.
Staying prepared – Prevention and Protection
Make healthier choices – a healthy diet, sound sleep and regular exercise form the basis for a stress-free and healthy mind. A few lifestyle choices like tobacco and alcohol consumption have also been correlated with increasing the risk of cancer.
Tests and screenings – early diagnosis of cancer makes the treatment easy and leads to full recovery. Hence, regular health check-ups and screenings can help detect the early stages of cancer, if any. An annual screening after the age of 40 in women (like mammography, pap smear, ultrasound) and the age of 55 in men (PSA ultrasound for men, apart from some tumour markers) can be helpful.
Choosing your health insurance wisely
Higher sum insured: It is always better to be prepared with adequate cover for any medical expenses. There are multiple covers available with different combinations in the market that provide the most suitable coverage for your needs. For instance, If you are living in a metro city, the cost of treatment will be higher as compared to the treatment cost in smaller towns.
So, it is important to choose a sum insured that can cover at least 1.25 times the average cancer treatment. The cost of treatment will vary with the type of cancer detected. But coverage of INR 5-7 lakhs is the minimum one must have. In case you are planning to buy a family floater policy, then increase the above-expected coverage by 50 per cent as it is shared between members of the family.
Co-payments: Co-payments are a feature of many health insurances wherein you are required to pay part of your claim based on the percentage of your co-payment. It is used by many people to reduce their health insurance premiums. However, if you’re looking for coverage against big expenses, a co-payment may not be the best option.
Critical illness add-on: A critical illness add-on covers beyond cancer. Benign brain tumor, coma of specified severity, open heart surgery, organ/ bone marrow transplant, different types of cancer, heart conditions, etc. are few of the medical treatments that are generally covered under critical illness cover. Some people choose health insurance without critical illness cover. In such cases, they can look at a separate cancer benefit add-on.
Waiting periods: There will be a waiting period in case of any health insurance. And it is not different for critical illness covers. Different insurers have different waiting period options available with the product, hence it is important to understand the waiting period of the product that you have chosen.
Pre-existing medical conditions: It is very important to inform your insurer about your complete medical history. In some cases, if there is an existing cancer condition or history, then getting a new policy becomes difficult. However, on evaluating the needs, insurers can provide the most convenient financial protection, although at a higher premium.
Insurance providers now have policies that can cover your cancer treatment costs from diagnosis to cancer-related treatment, such as chemotherapy, surgery, hospitalisation, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and other incurred expenses.
With a cancer benefit policy, along with regular hospitalization and treatment expenses are covered by your health insurance plan, a lumpsum can be claimed under the cancer benefit plan, which will help in the other expenses. Cancer insurance can be a pillar of financial support for those affected and their families. It can relieve them from the financial stress that one undergoes at the time of treatment.