Comprehensive health insurance for cancer care

The importance of a comprehensive health insurance plan for cancer care cannot be overstated.
Last Updated : 07 April 2024, 23:32 IST
Last Updated : 07 April 2024, 23:32 IST

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Cancer, a formidable adversary in the realm of health, casts a profound and far-reaching impact on individuals, families, and societies worldwide. In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research states that cancer cases will touch a whopping 15.7 lakhs by 2025, as compared to 14.6 lakhs in 2020.  

Consolation in this devastating situation are the improved techniques of cancer treatment and their effectiveness that has evolved over the past decades. Introduction of new age tech enabled therapies and multidisciplinary innovations have increased the effectiveness of treatments. But access to these quality and new age treatment technologies are not only expensive but, in many cases, it is recurring. 

Cancer can have a multifaceted impact on the person suffering from the disease. Physically it can cause discomforts like fatigue, pain, nausea, vomiting etc. Mentally, it can cause anxiety, depression and other cognitive difficulties and emotionally, it often leads to fear, stress, and feeling of isolation. The relentless nature of this disease, marked by its intricate web of challenges, creates a dire need for security against such unprecedented issues.

Need for a comprehensive cover

With the disease already taking a toll on physical, mental and financial health, the need of the hour is  comprehensive health insurance that acts as a safety net against these burdens. An all-round care and protection against whooping medical expenses of hospitalisation, post treatment care, support during recovery, financial care for liabilities and most importantly preventive checkup which may help in early diagnosis. A good health insurance plan will look into the entire spectrum, leaving no space for financial vulnerability. The importance of a comprehensive health insurance plan for cancer care cannot be overstated.

Four major aspects of primary importance in cancer care are:

Preventive care

The golden rule in case of cancer treatment is diagnosis of cancer at earlier stages. Early/ timely detection of cancer can mostly be associated with lesser aggressive treatment, lower medical expenses, better prognosis and also, in many types of cancer it also means reduced mortality. Having a health insurance plan which offers a preventive care and health check-up is of utmost importance.  

Medical care

Access to quality healthcare is the second most important aspect of cancer care planning. A health insurance policy that offers sufficient coverage, provides second medical opinion, cover cost of consumables, out-patient expenses and provides access to tertiary care hospital, especially oncology centres. 

There are products offering coverage not just in India but also across the globe which ensure access to new age treatment methods that are very crucial in diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Apart from these, insurance policies that cover other associated expenses such as cost of physiotherapy, transportation and hotel accommodation expenses may also aid in reducing the out-of-pocket expenses of the insured.

Emotional care

The psychological toll of a cancer diagnosis is immense and the financial stress further exacerbates the emotional burden. Cancer can lead to a wide range of emotions like fear, worry, stress, anxiety, sadness, depression and anger. However, getting a little professional support through psychiatric counselling, palliative care for cancer, rehabilitation etc. are crucial to maintain or improve emotional well-being for cancer patients and caregivers.

Financial care

Cancer treatment is notorious for its huge cost, but it is not just the cost of treatment which erodes lifetime of saving. Other ancillary expenses including out of pocket expenses and liabilities which are left undealt with during the course of treatment also adds to the huge expense and worry. 

Benefit based health insurance products are designed to cater to such needs. Benefit products pay a lump sum amount on the diagnosis of a covered cancer even at early stages.

A balanced combination of indemnity and benefit-based health insurance plan can provide additional financial protection beyond the ambit of a standard health insurance. 

One should also evaluate the other aspects of the insurance like; premium charged for the coverage, deductibles applied on claims, co-payments to be borne by the insured, deductions against consumables, sub limits etc. Striking a balance between affordability and comprehensive coverage is crucial. Along with the payable premium, one must also consider the brand reputation of the insurer. Additionally, explore options for flexible payment plans or discounts based on specific criteria. 

(The writer is Executive Vice President & Product Head – Accident & Health, TATA AIG General Insurance Co  Ltd)

Published 07 April 2024, 23:32 IST

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