The cost of treatment of cancer is exorbitantly high. A good health insurance plan that offers coverage for cancer can be of great help as it provides much needed financial support. We tell you how to get good insurance protection against cancer.
How do the cancer plans work?
There are many comprehensive standard health insurance plans that cover a wide range of diseases including cancer. These plans are indemnity plans which pay for the actual treatment cost within the overall limit of the sun insured. If you have a comprehensive plan you need to check it thoroughly to understand the level of financial protection it offers against cancer.
When it comes cancer special plans, then most of these plans are defined benefit plans. “Most cancer protection policies offer defined benefit plans where a fixed benefit is payable to policyholder in case he/she is diagnosed with any of the specified early or major stage cancer during the policy term,” says Abhishek Misra, CEO & Principal Officer, Bonanza Insurance Broker.
Many critical illness insurance plans which are also defined benefit plans also cover various types of cancers. However, a cancer special plan may have the edge here. “A cancer care policy is designed to specifically address the medical requirements related to cancer treatment only, whereas a critical illness plan with cancer coverage caters to listed chronic conditions and critical illnesses, cancer being one of them,” says Vivek Narain, Co-founder & Promoter of Sana Insure. “A cancer special plan would consider and cover various aspects of cancer treatments in depth as compared to a critical illness policy. For example, cancer care special plans cover early to advanced stages of cancer, while a critical illness plan might restrict coverage to advanced stage alone,” adds Narain.
Mind the waiting and survival periods
“The initial waiting period, typically ranges from 90 days to 180 days from the policy inception date depending on the insurance company. During this period, the policyholder cannot make any claims. In the survival period, the insured has to survive a specified number of days from the date of first diagnosis of cancer,” says Misra.
The waiting period is mandated by the insurance companies so that it does not have to pay in case the personal already had the disease at the time of buying the policy. “The waiting period put by the insurer is to avoid fraudulent claims, pointing towards people who have already been diagnosed with cancer and they still seek to coverage for their impending expenses,” says Narain.
Understanding of the survival period is important as it is the time after first diagnosis of the disease during which the coverage does not work. “If a person survives the period, then he would continue to require palliative care and would need to have medical expenses covered. If he does not, then the cover is not needed. One must remember that this insurance is not a life insurance plan but a medical expenses cover. The survival period can vary from 30 days to 6 months,” says Narain.
Should you top-up your comprehensive plan?
If you have a comprehensive cover that does not offer good coverage against cancer it would be better for you to buy a cancer special plan or a critical illness plan with good coverage against cancer. “Given the steep cost of cancer treatment, one should definitely top up their comprehensive health plan with a high cover defined benefit cancer special plan or critical illness plan. This will ensure that besides treatment costs, all other related expenses will also be taken care of such as non-medical expenses like managing travel expenses for treatment at distant places, supplementary medicines household expenses, etc. A standalone cancer defined benefit cancer special plan or critical illness plan is highly recommended for those with a family history of cancer,” says Misra.
Who should buy a cancer plan?
Frequency of occurrence of cancer has significantly increased over a period. As per a WHO study released in 2020 one in every 10 Indian will develop cancer and one in every 15 Indian will die from it. So the risk of developing cancer is much higher which means that having a protection against the disease is always better than having none.
People who are at higher risk must buy an insurance cover for this disease. “For people with a genetic propensity or history of cancer, it would be prudent to go for a cancer care special plan to help settle concerns over the likelihood of being diagnosed with and having to undergo treatment for cancer. Such plans would take care of medical expenditures right from diagnoses to surgical procedures, thereby easing the burden of having to foot hefty hospital bills on your own while ensuring access to appropriate treatment at network centers,” says Narayan.
Things to consider before buying a cancer plan
“Given the steep cost of cancer treatment, the customer should look for a plan with a high sum insured. Secondly, the plan should cover multiple stages of cancer right from the first stage to the last stage. Thirdly, the plan should offer long term cover which will ensure financial protection for a longer period at the same premium cost throughout the entire policy term. Lastly and most importantly, the customer should also look at the claim settlement ratio of the insurance company,” says Misra.