The word cancer is in itself enough to squeeze the life out of an otherwise healthy looking person!
Despite being a part of our lives for many decades now and huge advancements in science and technology, the dreaded disease is still spreading its tentacles quite successfully amongst the Indian population becoming one of the deadliest diseases in the country.
The current generation has grown up by hearing about one or the other family member succumbing to the disease, but now they are looking all around them to see just about anyone and everyone getting stuck by the blow of this disease, which is curable if diagnosed in the nick of time! The point is if diagnosed at the right time and if one gets the right treatment. This is where the catch is!
As a country, we are not used to the concept of getting our regular medical checks done until and unless we are so sick that we have to be hospitalized. Due to this, cancer gets detected at either stage 2 where treatment and cure has a 50-50 chance or at an extremely advanced stage where no amount of treatment can save a life. Even if by chance the disease gets detected at an early stage and there are enough chances of it getting cured, the costs of such treatment are so staggering that a common man can hardly afford the treatment. Let’s share with you examples to highlight the cost of treatment and post-treatment expenses to make things clearer.
For a 50yr old man diagnosed with one of the common forms of cancer, lung cancer, the expenses to diagnose and initiate the treatment is approximately Rs. 7lakhs in case of entire treatment taken in a private hospital! This doesn’t even include the cost of traveling, medicine post treatment and other sundry expenses required to undergo the entire treatment period!
A 45yrs old female suffering from breast cancer will have to shell out anywhere between Rs. 15-20lakhs for the preliminary treatment involving chemotherapy and radiations along with basic medication. The post-operative care at home, including regular check-up and medication is over and above this cost.
Above mentioned examples are for the treatment taken at private establishments. However, if you try to get treatment at government hospitals and health centres, the cost is minimal, but the queue of patients and time for treatment is too long to consider cost vs. life comparisons.
In such cases, the best way to safeguard yourself and your family from unseen expenses of this deadly disease is to buy insurance plans offering coverage for Cancer treatment, both in the hospital as well as at home including the cost of the medicines that make-up a substantial portion of treatment costs. Not many companies, either in the private or government sponsored insurance sector are having a complete coverage plans, but there are a couple of them that can suit your needs.
Secondly, instead of considering insurance as just a tax-saving instrument, it is important to take it as a life-saving instrument. Most insurance advisers are also not aware of the expenses incurred for the treatment of cancer and hence may not be able to explain you the advantages of having such a plan. It is alright to buy an insurance policy that covers hospitalization expenses, but cancer requires long term treatment outside hospital with repeated visits for various tests and examinations.
Therefore, it is prudent to buy a health policy with a higher premium for better coverage of the disease. As per estimates, 70% of Indian patients die in the first year of the disease due to late detection. Also, 50% of the cases are due to lifestyle factors ranging from obesity and tobacco use! Hence it is important to make sure that we live a healthy lifestyle to cut down on the risk factors.
The way ahead is complete awareness about the disease, its treatment and sensible ways of handling the finances. A health policy that covers the complete treatment is definitely a must even with high premium costs to help tide over the turbulent times since one never knows at what age cancer will strike. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry!