Although the human race is experiencing higher global life expectancy levels than ever before, certain diseases prevent many individuals from spending more quality time with their loved ones.
Cancer, a disease more and more people suffer from, has been a major source of concern for many years now. While medical experts do everything in their power to determine the earliest indicators of cancer in the human body and create the most successful treatments, many people lose a battle with cancer every year.
Although fighting cancer is a stressful and exhausting experience, financial costs don’t make the situation much easier. Fortunately, finding a quality health insurance plan can help you finance expensive cancer treatments and thus increase your chances of combating this life-threatening disease.
Cancer is a life-threatening disease where damaged or abnormal body cells grow uncontrollably and tend to spread out to other organs and body parts.
Cancer can start almost anywhere because the human body is made up of trillions of cells. The regular process is for human cells to grow and multiply while old or damaged cells die and replace new ones.
However, this orderly process is sometimes disrupted when abnormal or damaged cells continue growing and multiplying when they shouldn’t. As a result, lumps of tissue are formed, commonly called tumors. Tumors can be cancerous or benign.
While benign tumors don’t typically invade other tissues, cancerous tumors do. They can also travel throughout the body and form new tumors.
Most common cancer types
There are numerous cancer types, but the most common are:
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Colon and rectum cancer
- Skin cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Liver cancer
Cancer risk factors
What actually causes cancer? Although that is a highly complex question, medical experts and scientists are still trying to figure out some risk factors have been discovered. The most-studied risk factors for cancer include:
- Chronic inflammation
People can eliminate some of these risk factors from their lives to lower the risk of developing certain cancers. However, some risk factors, such as aging, can’t be avoided.
Cancer continues to be the second leading cause of death worldwide. According to the statistics provided by the National Cancer Institute, 18.1 million new cases and 9.5 million cancer-related deaths were recorded in 2018 worldwide. By 2040, the number of new cases is expected to reach 29.5 million and the number of cancer-related deaths 16.4 million.
Types of health insurance plans
After looking at the alarming statistics regarding cancer predictions, it’s essential to invest in high-quality insurance for cancer patients that can cover expenses related to cancer diagnoses and treatments. Today, numerous health insurance companies offer many different insurance plans to their clients. However, some health insurance plans worth mentioning for cancer coverage are:
- Managed-care plans
- Fee-for-service plans
- Catastrophic coverage
- Health savings accounts
- Cancer insurance
Even though these plans come with their unique features and properties, there’s also something they all have in common.
Namely, all plans require their users to pay a monthly fee called a premium. Most plans also require their patients to pay a flat fee for doctor’s appointments (copay), a part of the total cost (coinsurance), or both. These policies also come with a deductible, which is the amount an insurance user needs to pay before the insurance gets approved.
How much does health insurance cost?
Different insurance plans have different costs. However, even people with the same insurance plan and coverage can end up paying different premium amounts. That’s because many individual factors influence the final insurance price.
Pre-existing medical conditions
People already suffering from chronic illnesses or other medical conditions have to pay higher rates for getting the same premiums.
If you already have some kind of insurance coverage, your new insurance rates will most likely be lower.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
High BMI puts people at greater risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or developing a cardiovascular condition. Therefore, they’re charged more for all insurance plans.
The older you are, the more likely you are to develop a health condition, so older people usually have higher insurance premiums.
People who are working at dangerous workplaces or with hazardous materials need to pay higher insurance fees as they’re at constant risk of developing a disease.
Location of stay
People residing in larger cities or countries with higher standards will pay more for their insurance than people residing in villages or less-developed countries.
On a global scale, women live longer, so they’re more likely to use their insurance plans. That’s why they need to pay more for their plans.
Married couples get better insurance policy price deals, especially if they purchase couple’s insurance.
Managed care plans
These plans are some of the most popular health insurance plans out there. Besides insurance companies, you can purchase managed care insurance plans through various institutions and agencies, which makes buying these plans even simpler.
Another reason why so many people choose managed care plans is their price. Most plans have lower premiums rates and coinsurance and copay fees. Some managed care plans require a primary care provider who will coordinate, analyze, and approve all specialist visits, tests, treatments, and hospitalizations.
Managed care plans typically come with a list of healthcare providers and institutions clients should visit because they have an ongoing partnership with them. If a client uses services from a provider not mentioned in the insurance policy, they might not be eligible to use the insurance coverage.
Health maintenance organizations (HMO)
HMOs cover most healthcare expenses after copaying and paying for a deductible. However, they come with a predefined list of providers and institutions users can choose from. You’ll have to check the listings before visiting a doctor. Otherwise, they might not cover your bill.
Point-of-service plans (POS)
As a type of HMOs, POS plan users have a primary care doctor who refers patients to specialists and other doctors within the network. If your primary care doctor refers you to a specialist not mentioned in the plan, you have to check whether the insurance company will still provide coverage. If not, you might have to pay coinsurance.
Preferred provider organizations (PPO)
PPOs combine services fee-for-service and HMO properties. Similar to HMOs, PPO insurance users have a limited number of doctors and hospitals they can visit. However, you can choose providers not mentioned in your network too. However, you’ll have to pay higher premiums for this feature.
Free-for-service plans are insurance plans that give their users the ultimate level of freedom. They’re also called traditional health plans. There isn’t any list of accepted doctors or hospitals, so you can visit any doctor who is willing to accept your insurance plan. Moreover, you can change your doctors whenever you want to but you should know what does disability insurance cover.
Treating cancer costs a lot of money. That’s why some insurance plans are targeted towards offering supplemental coverage, called catastrophic coverage. While catastrophic coverage policies don’t cover routine medical expenses, they come in handy if it comes to hospitalization.
When it comes to cancer treatments, catastrophic coverage typically doesn’t cover medicines, doctor visits, or routine care but starts to provide coverage when a patient is hospitalized. Therefore, you can rely on catastrophic coverage only when medical bills become extremely expensive.
Health savings accounts (HSA)
Setting up an HSA is recommended for all individuals with a high-deductible insurance policy, such as a catastrophic plan. Contributions made to the HSA are tax-free as long as they’re used to cover qualified medical expenses. If you use the money for something else, you’ll be required to pay taxes and penalties.
An alternative option is setting up a Flexible spending account (FSA). Unlike HSA, an FSA plan can be set even if you don’t have a high-deductible insurance policy. It can also be used both for dependent care and medical expenses. While HSA funds stay on the account until you use them, FSA funds need to be spent by the end of the year, or they’re lost.
Cancer insurance and other alternatives
Cancer and critical illness insurance
As critical illnesses become more prevalent among the general public, special insurance for cancer patients that provides financial coverage for serious conditions is becoming increasingly popular. Cancer and critical illness insurance policies provide extra money in case of life-threatening health problems, including cancer, stroke, heart attack, or an accident.
These policies usually cover a part of medical expenses typical insurance doesn’t provide coverage for, including deductibles and coinsurance. Since these insurance policies offer only additional support, they aren’t used as primary healthcare insurance plans since they can’t cover most of the treatments and procedures a cancer patient needs.
Hospital indemnity policies
These policies pay a fixed amount for each day spent hospitalized. Unfortunately, most policies have a limited number of days they’ll cover, either on an annual or a lifetime level. However, funds received through hospital indemnity policies don’t need to be used for covering medical costs. Instead, people can use the funds however they see fit.
Long-term care insurance
Although long-term care insurance isn’t a type of health insurance, it helps cover care expenses that can quickly turn essential for people battling cancer, especially for the elderly. Long-term care insurance includes medical and non-medical care such as eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, or walking. This insurance plan can be given at home, in assisted living homes, or in nursing homes. Sometimes cancer patients can have trouble with activities of daily living, and if that’s the case, then a long term care insurance policy may be able to cover them for the care they’ll need.
How to choose the best insurance plan
It’s important to understand the details of a cancer insurance plan or a cancer insurance rider for a healthcare insurance plan to make the best decision when it comes to insurance for cancer patients. Here are a couple of helpful things to think about before applying for disability insurance.
Is the health plan qualified?
Research whether the doctors and institutions listed in your insurance are qualified specialists with high medical reputations. If not, check the expenses of out-of-network treatments.
Are medications covered in the pharmacy drug formulary?
Review each policy carefully and pay close attention to the health services and medications covered by the insurance. For cancer patients, some commonly excluded services are alternative or unproven cancer therapies, herbal or non-prescription drugs, and long-term care.
What are my out-of-pocket costs?
With the latest changes in law, health care facilities, providers, and insurance companies must inform people about all the out-of-pocket costs they’re expected to pay before starting to receive insurance coverage funds from their provider.
The new rules help protect the public and people who need to use their health insurance coverage from surprise medical bills. Today, people can have a much better understanding of their health plans.
Is this insurance plan a scam?
Before deciding on an insurance company or a plan, it’s crucial to evaluate all data carefully. Namely, there are a lot of health insurance scams that offer extremely low prices for excellent benefits and other too-good-to-be-true deals. Finally, stay cautious of calls and visits from people who represent themselves as insurance specialists or government agents and ask you about your personal details and bank information.
To sum everything up, there are many options when it comes to insurance for cancer patients. Because every person has a unique situation, it’s impossible to single out a universal insurance plan ideal for all people battling cancer.
Instead, each person is advised to access their health priorities, financial capabilities, and coverage required by the policy. That’s the only way to find an insurance plan you’ll be completely satisfied with.
- World Health Organization (WHO). (n.d.). Cancer Fact Sheet. Retrieved from who.int website: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
- National Cancer Institute (NCI). (n.d.). Cancer Statistics. Retrieved from cancer.gov website: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics
- National Cancer Institute (NCI). (n.d.). Managing Costs and Medical Information. Retrieved from cancer.gov website: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/managing-care/track-care-costs#understand-your-health-insurance
- American Cancer Society (ACS). (n.d.). Financial and Insurance Matters. Retrieved from cancer.org website: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/finding-and-paying-for-treatment.html
- Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Cancer Diagnosis & treatment. Retrieved from mayoclinic.org website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20370594
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). (n.d.). No Surprises Act. Retrieved from cms.gov website: https://www.cms.gov/nosurprises