Should I Buy Cancer Insurance?
As you enter the world of Medicare and maybe retirement, it can be a great time to consider carrying cancer insurance. And in the spirit of Cancer Control Month, we wanted to take a really in-depth look at the merits of cancer insurance.
Do you really need it? And is cancer insurance affordable?
Do you really need cancer insurance?
When you look at any type of insurance, you probably look at how much you actually need it.
According to the American Cancer Society, half of all men, and one-third of all women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime.
And that statistic likely rings true, as most of us know at least one person who has had cancer. It can happen to anyone at any time.
Now, when we look at odds, you might still think that 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 isn’t worth insuring against. For example, when you buy life insurance, there’s a 100% chance you’ll use it.
However, you probably have homeowners insurance and car insurance, right?
The odds of claiming on your house insurance is 1 in 2,766.
The odds of claiming on your car insurance is 1 in 1,685.
And remember – the odds of being diagnosed with cancer are 1 in 2 for men, and 1 in 3 for women. We’ve had many of our clients benefit from these policies over the years.
So, yes – we always recommend a cancer policy for our clients, but there is one exception.
You need to have your general health insurance covered first. It wouldn’t make sense to have a cancer policy if you don’t have general health insurance.
For example, if you’re on Medicare, but you don’t have a Medicare Supplement yet, you need to take care of that first. Many of our clients find that pairing a Medicare Supplement with a cancer plan is a great way to get a lot of health coverage, and often for less than what their health insurance cost before.
Does Medicare pay for cancer costs?
Another important factor to consider is that Medicare only covers medically necessary expenses. Two-thirds of all costs associated with cancer are non-medical.
That means that two-thirds of cancer-related costs will fall back on you.
But what do those costs look like?
- When you get cancer, the treatments tend to cause loss of appetite. It’s normal to drop a significant amount of weight. That means you need all new clothing. And over time, it’s probable that you’ll put some of that weight back on – which means you need new clothes again.
- If you’re spending most of your time in a hospital – and keep in mind that cancer drains you both physically and mentally – you likely won’t be able to keep up with a full-time job. Where will income replacement come from?
- You have twice the chance of survival if you go to a research facility — so why wouldn’t you? The top cancer hospitals are in Houston, New York City, Rochester, and Boston. Who will pay for the airfare, the hotel stays, the meals, etc.?
Then, you can consider other costs, like getting a wig if your hair falls out, covering the cost of special diets, any extra deductibles or coinsurance, and suddenly, the costs left to you are racking up.
A cancer insurance policy puts that money into your pocket so you can use it as you see fit.
How does a cancer insurance policy work?
There are two types of cancer insurance policies, and both of them pay you a little differently.
The first option, which is our preferred option, is called a lump sum cancer insurance policy.
1) Lump Sum Cancer Insurance
A lump sum cancer insurance policy quite literally pays you a lump sum of cash when you receive a cancer diagnosis. When you choose your policy, you choose what that lump sum will be.
In many cases, that lump sum will range from $10,000-$30,000, though you are able to purchase as high as $100,000 with some companies. The minimum can go as low as $5,000, though that probably isn’t enough, and you may not need to insure yourself for only $5,000.
So, in simple terms, as soon as a doctor says you have cancer, your lump sum cancer insurance sends you a check. You have the ability to use that money in any way you want. If you need it to pay for travel, you can. If you need it to live on while you take time off from work to get treatment, you can do that.
A lump sum cancer policy is simple to understand, and it offers a lot of flexibility, which is why we love it.
2) Cancer Insurance Based on a Specific Summary of Benefits
The second option is a plan that pays for your needs according to the company’s specific contract. For example, the plan might agree to pay $150 towards the purchase of a wig or hairpiece. Another example might be that the plan would agree to pay up to $75 per day for a room in a hotel if you need to go to a non-local hospital, like a treatment center.
What’s nice about these plans is that they process the charges for you, but what can be not-so-nice is if you need to stay at a hotel in New York City, where one of the best cancer research facilities is. You can see how $75 per day wouldn’t exactly make the cut for a night in a New York City hotel.
One more thing to consider with this type of plan is that if you end up using it enough, you may end up receiving more benefits than you would with a lump sum cancer policy. With a lump sum plan, once the money is gone, it’s gone. With this type of plan, you can continue using the benefits as long as you need them, though you may have to use some of your own money along the way.
Having options is nice, so be sure to go through both with your agent so you can compare how the benefits work, and what appeals to you the most.
Can you get cancer insurance if you already have cancer?
If you currently have cancer, you won’t be able to get cancer insurance. However, if you’ve had cancer in the past, you might still be eligible.
While some carriers won’t let you apply if you’d had cancer, here’s the good news: many will!
For most carriers, the requirement is that you haven’t had cancer in the past 10 years. There are a few with a 5-year lookback period.
That means that even if you’ve had cancer before, you can still get cancer insurance to protect your future.
You may also think you don’t need cancer insurance if you’ve had cancer before, but according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, you’re twice as likely (2.2 times) to redevelop cancer if you’ve already had cancer before.
That makes it even more important that you look into cancer insurance if you’ve reached that eligibility requirement.
What does cancer insurance cost?
Finally, we need to know how much it costs to have a cancer insurance policy.
For lump sum cancer insurance, you can get a plan for as little as $30 per month.
For cancer insurance that pays based on a specific summary of benefits, you can expect to pay as little as $60 per month.
This varies based on which company you choose, how great the benefits are, and how old you are, but in many cases, we find that our clients can find a great option for less than $60 per month.
You can also get additional savings by choosing a plan that covers not only yourself, but you and your spouse. There are also family plans available. In these cases, you end up paying less per person than if you bought the policy for only yourself.
Finally, it’s important to note that many cancer insurance plans also offer coverage for heart attack and stroke. Many individuals feel that it’s strange to insure yourself for only one potential disease, but if you can be insured for cancer, heart attack, and stroke, you’re basically insuring yourself against some of the most common causes of death.
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