Sudden cancer diagnosis is not uncommon. Which means most people are likely to be unprepared for it, physically, mentally and financially. The sadder part is that the occurrence is across age-groups and gender, with even the young falling prey to it. In India alone – as per a study – close to 10 lakh people are diagnosed with this deadly disease every year. Sadly, these numbers are rising fast and are expected to almost double by 2035.
What is making it worse is that cancer incidence is no longer attributable to clearly risky behaviours or habits, such as chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes or staying in highly polluted zones. Research is also probing the role of plastics, pesticide residue in food, cosmetics that come loaded with chemicals and even mobile radiation. Certain incidences of cancer can also be due to genetic reasons. In short, it is no guarantee that people with less risky habits are completely safe.
Cancer destroys finances too
The disease does not attack just the body. It can also be fatal for the finances of the patient and his/her family. And, this is not just about the cost of treatment, but, also about the high probability of loss of regular earnings or monthly income. Typically, cancer patients are unable to continue work, resulting in this loss of regular flow of income. This can be severely debilitating if the primary bread earner is unfortunately diagnosed with this deadly disease. In fact, the impact of even minor diseases on loss of income is well documented and has been repeatedly pointed out by PM Narendra Modi while talking about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Then, there is also the critical question of funding the treatment of the disease. A cancer patient needs money early and quickly to start treatment, so needs immediate access to money for hospitalisation & treatment.
Frightening? Surely, it is. Thankfully, however, there are ways to deal with such things, at least financially. And, this is where insurance policies specifically dedicated to critical illnesses or ones dedicated to one specific critical illness can literally be life savers. More focused policies go deep into that critical illness, say cancer, and cover minute aspects of the treatment & impact of the disease.
Cancer policies cover specific risks
Consider LIC’s Cancer Cover policy. A 25-year-old can get a Rs 20 lakh security umbrella against cancer for 30 years at a starting annual premium of just a little over Rs 2600! Just to put that amount in perspective – two movie outings can cost more than this or this is the same as a Rs 200 recharge per month for an entire year or perhaps equivalent to a month’s milk bill of a household taking 2 litres/day. A Rs 20 lakh protection against a deadly disease for that amount is very affordable, isn’t it?
With this policy from LIC, the policyholder also has the choice to go in for the ‘Increasing Sum Insured’ option; under this the sum insured increases by 10 per cent of the basic sum insured each year for the first 5 years. The great thing is that absolutely no medical is required to take it.
The benefits of this policy clearly illustrate its focus on this specific disease. The policy makes a distinction between early stage and major stage cancers and adjusts the benefits accordingly. In the case of early stage cancer, the policy pays out a lump sum amount of 25% of sum assured right away, even if that much expense has not been incurred by the policyholder. So, if the policyholder has a cover of Rs 50 lakh, a sum of Rs 12.5 lakh will be paid straightaway on the first diagnosis of an early stage cancer.
That is a big pay-out amount, it is important as it makes money available to the policyholder immediately, as she is about to commence her treatment. What’s more, the policy waives of premiums for three years from the diagnosis of the disease.
The financial support from the policy increases with the intensity of the disease. In the unfortunate event of diagnosis of major stage cancer, the policy gives out 100% of the sum insured. Taking the same example, it means a Rs 50 lakh pay-out for a policy with sum insured of the same amount. This is a big financial assistance for an all-out treatment of the disease that has reached such a major stage. Again, unlike other policies of the same kind, this pay-out is not in any way related with the cost of treatment or any other contingent factors.
There is another point to note. If a pay-out is made for early stage cancer, it in no way stops payment of the full amount if the cancer unfortunately moves to the major stage. So, if Rs 12.5 lakh were paid out earlier, the remainder Rs 37.5 lakh will be given on a Rs 50 lakh policy if the cancer moves to the major stage.
In addition, the policy mitigates the loss of income to the family by paying out 1% of the sum insured. That can mean a reassuring Rs 50,000 per month (for a policy worth Rs 50 lakh) for a period of 10 years even if the policyholder does not unfortunately survive or even if the policy term is coming to an end. Guaranteed monthly income support is a huge boon for the nominees or the family of the cancer victim.
You can buy this policy if you are between 20 and 65 years, for a policy term ranging from 10 to 30 years. The minimum sum insured is Rs 10 lakh, while the maximum sum insured is Rs 50 lakh.
According to industry experts, a major advantage of cancer specific plans is that they are reasonably priced compared to other types of health insurance plans. Besides, the premiums paid are eligible for tax benefits u/s 80D of the I-T Act.
(This article has been sponsored by LIC)