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Should 'at risk' women take out cancer insurance coverage?

By May 29, 2008 - 9:55am
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Should women whose relatives died of cancer cover themselves with specialist cancer insurance? I've heard of a number of products and also private medical insurance but not sure what the differences are. I'm based in the UK.

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This is such an interesting question...I never thought about it! I did some research, and here is what I found:

The National Library of Medicine is a great "clearinghouse" of resources. Here is the link to understanding health insurance:

What I found in regards to specifically cancer insurance, is that it is a better idea to get major medical insurance coverage, as even cancer coverage may not adequately cover the major expenses related to cancer (hospital stay requirements, rehab, cancer-related illnesses, etc.). The information I found is below, with the reference following (please note, this information is only from one site; I did not find any "pro" cancer insurance coverage information, but that does not mean it may not be right for you).

If you are considering cancer insurance, ask yourself three questions:
1) Is my current coverage adequate for these costs?
2) How much will the treatment cost if I do get cancer?
3) How likely am I to contract the disease?

Cancer treatment accounts for about 10% of U.S. health expenses. In fact, no single disease accounts for more than a small proportion of the American public's health care bill. This is why it is essential to have insurance coverage for all conditions, not just cancer.

If you and your family are not protected against catastrophic medical costs, you should consider a major medical policy. These policies pay a large percentage of your covered costs after a deductible is paid either by you or your basic insurance. They often have very high maximums, such as $100,000 to $1,000,000. Major medical policies will cover you for any accident or sickness, including cancer. They cost more than cancer policies because they cover more, but they are generally considered a better buy.

Cancer policies sold today vary widely in cost and coverage. If you decide to purchase a cancer policy, contact different companies and agents, and compare the policies before you buy.

Here are some common limitations:

1) Some policies pay only for hospital care. Today cancer care treatment, including radiation, chemotherapy, and some surgery, is often given on an outpatient basis. Because the average stay in the hospital for a cancer patient is only 13 days, a policy which pays only when you are hospitalized has limited value.

2) Many policies promise to increase benefits after a patient has been in the hospital for 90 consecutive days. However, since the average stay in a hospital for a cancer patient is 13 days, large dollar amounts for extended benefits have very little value for most patients.

3) Many cancer insurance policies have fixed dollar limits. For example, a policy might pay only up to $1,500 for surgery costs or $1,000 for radiation therapy, or it may have fixed payments such as $50 or $100 for each day in the hospital. Others limit total benefits to a fixed amount such as $5,000 or $10,000.

4) No policy will cover cancer diagnosed before you applied for the policy. Some policies will deny coverage if you are later found to have had cancer at the time of purchase, even if you did not know it.

5) Most cancer insurance does not cover cancer- related illnesses. Cancer or its treatment may lead to other physical problems, such as infection, diabetes, or pneumonia.

More information can be found at the website below (it is just for the State of Wisconsin. Do you have a Health and Human Services or National Library of Medicine-type organization in the UK?)


What have you found to be the pros and cons of cancer insurance coverage?

May 29, 2008 - 12:54pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Alison Beaver)

Hi alison

Great response thank you. It feels much clearer. The issue I've always found with full private medical insurance (and don;t forget I'm based in the UK so might be different here) is that it is prohibitively expensive and so most people only have it if they are covered at work. The cancer insurance policies tend to be much much cheaper and at least cover the major costs to keep the household together while that person is being treated.

June 9, 2008 - 9:18am

Great question. We will do some research on it and get back with you.

May 29, 2008 - 9:57am
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