Critical coverage: How to protect yourself from big cancer bills

Hanah Lopes

Every year, November 7 is observed as National Cancer Awareness Day in India. It was first announced in September 2014 by the then Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. November 7 coincides with the birth anniversary of scientist Marie Curie, known for championing the development of radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. National Cancer Awareness Day is observed to increase awareness about cancer prevention and early detection for the general population.

Cancer, especially brain and ovarian cancer, is hard to detect in early stages. Its diagnosis and subsequent treatment is a harrowing ordeal and takes a significant toll on the physical, mental, emotional and financial wellbeing of the individual and their family. It is of paramount importance to be prepared to face any eventuality beforehand. Securing yourself with a critical illness insurance cover is the first step towards insulating yourself from financial setbacks.

Why should your health insurance plan cover cancer?

Cancer treatment is one of the most expensive ones out there. The cost of treatment is usually dependent on the type of cancer, size of tumour, patient’s age etc. The cost of cancer treatment can go up to Rs 50 lakh and even beyond. These figures can vary widely based on several factors such as tenure of hospitalisation, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Having a health insurance plan thus gives much-needed relief to the individual and family, knowing that the cost of treatment will be taken care of.

Here’s how to select a suitable health insurance plan:

Critical Illness Rider or Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan

India is facing the triple threats of lifestyle diseases, existing communicable diseases and infectious diseases. Thus, considering the given scenario, it is important that first people get themselves covered under basic or comprehensive health insurance plan that provides an adequate health coverage and covers a larger spectrum of diseases. Critical Illness Rider is only advisable as an option to upgrade coverage for specific diseases.

There is a big difference between the two – comprehensive health insurance plan covers the cost of treatments as per actuals, subject to sum insured limits. In fixed benefit products such as critical illness rider, while there is a lump sum payout on identification of cancer, few types of cancers are excluded from coverage. These vary from insurer to insurer but largely are the ones which are lower intensity and easily treatable. Therefore, purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan can be a wise thing to do, to keep you covered for a high sum insured, as it provides financial protection against not just specific cancer disease but also for all infections, diseases and accidents.

Sum insured

When it comes to sum insured specific to health insurance plans, it is better to be safe than sorry. As mentioned before, cancer treatments are among the most expensive, so opting for a high sum insured is the logical thing to do. Such a move will ensure the best treatment for the insured while protecting the savings of their family against pricey treatments like chemotherapy and transplants.

Premium waiver benefit

This is hardly the time to be without health insurance, which is why there are some health insurance plans in the market that offer a one-year premium waiver. To support you through this crisis, the plan pays the premium for a full year.

Type of coverage

There are different types of cancers such as lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. The treatment for each varies according to the type of cancer and stage the patient is in. Some cancers require only one treatment while most require a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. It is important to choose a health insurance plan that offers coverage from the initial to the final stage.

Things to keep in mind

At the time of purchasing a health insurance plan, individuals need to disclose medical conditions accurately in the proposal form. Subject to underwriting guidelines the health risk will be assessed and risk will be accepted at standard premium/additional premium or with waiting period or both. If required, the applicant might be asked to go through pre-policy check-ups or additional medical tests (if any) on case to case basis.

There are also some exclusions that you must know to avoid claim rejections. Any other illness, apart from specified critical illnesses, is not covered. Therefore, while it is important to know the things included in the critical illness/cancer policy, it goes a long way to take a note of things that are not covered under the policy. Therefore, before zeroing down on a policy, it is imperative to read through the policy terms and conditions carefully.

To summarise, we are currently living in volatile times with a high rate of inflation. The cost of everything, including medical treatments, are on the rise. Thus, get yourself and family insured with a comprehensive health insurance plan and leave your worries behind!

(The author is the head of Products at ManipalCigna Health Insurance)

https://www.deccanherald.com/business/critical-coverage-how-to-protect-yourself-from-big-cancer-bills-1159916.html

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