Cancer Insurance Comes to Canada

November 6, 2013 Hull & Hull LLP Health / Medical Tags: 0 Comments

 According to the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadians have a 40% chance of developing cancer during their lifetime and a greater than 25% chance of ultimately succumbing to the disease.  Cancer insurance has recently been introduced in Canada to provide individuals who are insured with a lump sum payment, to be spent as the patient chooses, if ever diagnosed with cancer. 

The direct and indirect costs of cancer treatment are extreme, especially in the United States, where the many procedures and hospital-administered medications are not covered by any government health insurance plan.  Even in Canada, where we benefit from provincial health insurance plans, the costs of prescription medications required to continue with cancer treatments can be significant and a barrier to access to treatment for individuals without additional coverage.  The treatment may also interfere with employment  and limit future earning potential.

The concept of cancer insurance may sound familiar.  Cancer insurance shares many similarities with critical illness insurance, but is more specific in its scope and its eligibility criteria are relatively relaxed.  Cancer insurance is much newer to Canada than critical illness insurance, which is a well-established planning tool that pays out following a heart attack, stroke, or cancer diagnosis.  No Medical Life claims to be the first provider to offer this type of insurance to Canadians.  In the United States, cancer insurance is better established and is sometimes recommended to supplement health insurance for individuals who are at high risk of developing cancer. 

Although it may be more accessible than critical illness insurance, anyone who has received cancer treatment or screening within two years of applying for coverage will not be insured.  Further, the amount of coverage offered to individuals with an immediate family member who has received a cancer diagnosis at any point in the past will be limited. 

One drawback to critical illness insurance and cancer insurance alike is that coverage does not normally begin until three months after a policy is purchased.  This means that if the insured receives a cancer diagnosis within three months (or suffers a heart attack or stroke, in the case of critical illness insurance) of deciding to obtain coverage, proceeds will not be distributed. 

When it comes to insurance planning, the emphasis still seems to be on life insurance.  Typically, individuals spend more time planning their estates than planning for potential (mental or physical) incapacity and how various expenses will be paid during their lifetime.  With cancer diagnoses on the rise worldwide, and approximately 187,600 Canadians receiving a cancer diagnosis every year, cancer insurance and critical illness insurance may be worthy of greater consideration.

Thank you for reading.

Suzana Popovic-Montag

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