Cancer Insurance


Cancer insurance is a type of supplemental health insurance that is meant to manage the risks associated with the cancer disease and its numerous manifestations. Cancer insurance is relatively new trend within the insurance industry at large. It is meant to mitigate the costs of cancer treatment and provide policyholders with a degree of financial support. This support is based upon the terms written into a particular policy by an insurance company. As with other forms of insurance, cancer insurance is subject to charges, called premiums, which change depending on the risk associated with covering the disease.


In terms of the insurance industry, cancer insurance is novel form of coverage, having emerged approximately 50 years ago. Cancer insurance was not designed to replace conventional health insurance coverage. Instead, this type of insurance is meant to augment conventional policies by providing coverage for a disease that is often associated with high out-of-pocket medical costs, even when coverage is provided through traditional insurance policies.

Coverage benefits

Cancer insurance policies typically offer wellness benefits (varies from state to state) that are meant to help those suffering from cancer or at risk of developing the disease adopt healthier lifestyles. These benefits vary depending on the insurance company providing coverage. These benefits can offer financial support for those pursuing healthy living programs, such as tobacco cessation, gym memberships, and dietary changes. Insurers may also offer access to information regarding healthy lifestyles, which policyholders are able to acquire at any time. Typical coverage benefits also provide policyholders with access to wellness tests that are meant for early detection of disease and monitoring other aspects of overall health. These tests include mammograms, Pap smear tests, and colonoscopies as well as many others. In many cases, those with cancer insurance must submit proof that they have received an exam to their cancer insurance provider. This matter is typically handled by the medical professional conducting the exam. Once the evidence of the exam has been submitted and verified, the insurance company will then provide the necessary financial support. As a supplement to traditional health insurance policies, cancer insurance and its associated benefits are limited in scope. The benefits associated with these policies are often designed to mitigate the effects of cancer or encourage the prevention of the disease as a whole. Benefits come in different varieties depending upon the insurance company underwriting the policies. Many policies offer benefits concerning medical expenses, which include costs associated with health care, such as cancer treatment. Other policies offer benefits concerning non-medical costs. These benefits provide policyholders with financial assistance for transportation, food, home and child care, and certain bills.

The very mention of the word cancer can instill fear in the toughest of individuals. But getting scared is not the answer and one has to prepare — physically, mentally and financially — to fight the dreaded disease.

The incidence of cancer seems to be on the rise in India, with a recent study indicating that cases are likely to increase from 14 lakh in 2016 to over 17.3 lakh by 2020. And if you thought it was all down to genetics, then think again because studies have shown that 70-90 per cent of all cancers are due to environmental factors.

How the cancer plans differ and what to consider while choosing one?

There are a few important things one must keep in mind while choosing a cancer plan. If it, for instance, offers benefits, including payouts, at all stages.

Second, see what kind of benefit applies in each stage and the total benefit under the plan.

Third, does the plan offer a fixed sum insured throughout the term or does the sum insured increase at say 10 per cent every year up to a certain fixed limit? (The increased sum insured is called the indexed sum insured as the annual increase is indexed to the initial sum insured.) Though the premium could be higher for such a plan, it does ensure taking care of the escalating medical costs.

Fourth, is there a waiver for all future premiums upon diagnosis? Check at what stage the plan offers

Why mediclaim or critical illness plans may not be sufficient?

Health insurance policies are indemnity covers that pay only for inpatient hospitalization. As against this, the lump sum payouts in cancer plans depend on the stage of diagnosis. Critical illness plans may not always be useful mainly because of some cancer-specific exclusions like pre-malignant tumor, non-invasive cancer (cancer in situ), prostate cancer stage 1 (T1a, 1b, 1c), etc. Cancer insurance plans appear to be more inclusive than other alternatives.

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