Child supporting her ill mother

Reconsidering Cancer Insurance

What would you do if you were diagnosed with cancer this week? On top of the stress of the diagnosis, you would need to know if you could afford the costs of treatment adding another layer of unwanted stress and complexity to this unfortunate situation. Did you know that the estimated direct medical costs for cancer in the US in 2015 were $80.2 billion?

I, myself, had never thought about the costs of cancer and certainly never imagined purchasing cancer insurance until I saw the difference it made for my in-laws when they were both diagnosed with cancer. My mother-in-law had purchased a cancer policy many years ago. When they both became sick, it reimbursed tens of thousands of dollars of treatment costs. It eased (and still does) the financial burden of cancer treatments and helped my in-laws focus on recovery instead of worrying about payment. In this post, I share some information on cancer insurance and on whom should consider this option.

A Few Startling Statistics to Ponder

  • According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second most common cause of death in America (the first cause of death is heart disease) and kills approximately 1,670 Americans every day.
  • About 87% of all cancers in the US are diagnosed in people over the age of 50.
  • Based on cancer occurrences in the general population, the American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 38 out of 100 women and 40 out of 100 men will develop cancer during their lifetime.

The Cancer Insurance Solution (unloved until needed)

Cancer insurance is not often considered when people are purchasing insurance. Yet, it could make sense for some people to at least consider this option.

What is cancer insurance? It is a type of supplemental health insurance that is meant to supplement a regular health insurance plan. The policy will pay you directly if you are diagnosed with cancer. Depending on your policy, the money received from a cancer insurance policy can be used to cover a wide range of medical and non-medical expenses that arise during cancer treatment such as out of pocket costs, cost of travel to treatment facilities, loss of wages, etc.

The main advantages of this type of insurance are that it can relieve financial stress and help cover the costs of treatment.

The main disadvantages of this type of policy are that you may never use it and it is becoming increasingly expensive as more Americans are diagnosed each year.

Who should buy cancer insurance? What are my other choices? You should consider cancer insurance if you have a history of cancer in your family and are at risk of developing the disease. However, it is not your only option, there are other ways to protect yourself from the financial stress linked to cancer such as Disability Insurance (it can replace a portion of monthly income), setting money aside in a Health Savings Account (HSA), or in an investment account, for example.

My husband and I elected to buy it because we both have a family history of cancer and are very likely to develop the disease in our lifetime. We may never use it, but we have seen how it can alleviate financial stress in our family and believe the policy we chose make sense for our situation.

It’s not for everyone but for those most at risk, it can mean everything!

P.S. On a different but related note, the American Cancer Society is looking for volunteers to drive cancer patients to their appointments. I mention this because these wonderful volunteers drive my father-in-law to his chemo appointments when my husband and I are working! If it’s something that might interest you, you can learn more about it by visiting the American Cancer Society website.


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