Cancer, Heart Attack and Stroke Insurance
What would you do if you, your spouse or your child were diagnosed with cancer? Would your current health insurance plan cover all of the potentially astronomical costs for treatment?
Would you or your loved ones be able to afford your portion of those bills? How about the many bills your health plan doesn’t address? Bills like experimental treatments, visits to out-of-network specialists, home health care or even daily living expenses?
Fortunately, health insurance companies now offer a plan specifically designed to alleviate the high costs of cancer treatment and care. It's typically called cancer insurance, though some companies offer it in a bundle of critical illness insurance.
Cancer insurance is intended to be a supplemental insurance product that works in conjunction with your primary health insurance plan.
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Do you need cancer insurance?
Cancer insurance is becoming more and more common because many basic health insurance plans don’t cover all the costs tied to a cancer diagnosis.
The question is: are the premiums you’ll pay for this type of policy worth the peace of mind it provides? Also, does the coverage justify the cost? And when does it make sense to buy cancer insurance?
"The right time to consider a cancer insurance policy is when you are in good health," said Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.
The answers to the questions above depend on your personal situation. Factors like your finances, health and form of cancer all impact whether or not cancer insurance is right for you.
The following pieces of information should help you decide if you need cancer insurance or not.
1. The point of cancer insurance is to reduce the price of cancer treatment.
Cancer insurance isn’t supposed to replace the benefits provided by your primary health insurance. Cancer insurance is supposed to help you pay some of the expenses your basic policy doesn’t cover.
2. Cancer insurance policies can cover a lot of costs.
Depending on the policy you buy, cancer insurance can cover a wide range of both medical and non-medical costs.
These are some of the expenses cancer insurance plans tend to cover:
- Hospital stays (especially lengthy ones).
- Visits to out-of-network specialists.
- Various tests, treatments and procedures.
- Child care.
- Dietary assistance.
- Travel and lodging when treatment is far away from home.
3. That said, most cancer insurance plans won’t cover all of these costs.
Few cancer insurance policies cover every one of the expenses mentioned above. Even the ones that do may still leave “gaps” in your coverage. That means you could be left holding a bill that you have to pay.
Many cancer supplemental plans are indemnity plans that offer you cash after a submitted diagnoses that you can use for any or all of the above needs without submitting bills or receipts.
Don’t go into this situation assuming all cancer insurance plans offer the same benefits or coverage, because that’s not the case. To understand how different plans work, let us help you find the best cancer and/or heart attack and stroke plan for you.
4. You may not be able to get cancer insurance if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer.
Some companies will deny you cancer insurance coverage if you have cancer or had it in the past. "It may not be obtainable if you have already been diagnosed with a cancerous condition. Or you are past the age when insurance companies will issue a new policy," said Slome.
At least one provider won't sell you cancer insurance if you’ve been diagnosed or treated for other health issues, too. That includes Hodgkin’s disease, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex or if you’ve tested positive for HIV.
We'll help you read the fine print before you get too excited about a particular cancer insurance plan.
5. Pay close attention if you have a family history of cancer.
Cancer insurance doesn’t make sense for everybody. Are you young, healthy, not risk-averse and without a family history of cancer? You might want to use the money you’d hand over for a cancer insurance policy for something else.
Have a number of your relatives been diagnosed with or treated for various kinds of cancer? In that case, cancer insurance may be more worth your while than it is for people without a family history of the disease.
6. Your basic health insurance plan might be more than enough for you and your family.
If you have an average risk of developing cancer, you may want to rely on your basic health plan rather than cancer insurance.
You could also boost or upgrade your basic health plan instead of buying cancer insurance. This option will provide you with an even wider range of benefits.
7. Critical illness insurance may make more sense than cancer insurance.
Rather than focus entirely on cancer, critical illness insurance provides supplemental coverage for other worrisome illnesses. Heart attack and stroke are the most common examples. Critical illness insurance sometimes covers kidney failure, major organ transplants and ALS, too.
Aetna and other cancer insurance providers typically offer critical illness policies as well. This makes it relatively easy to purchase both types of coverage at the same time, if needed.
Critical illness insurance policies usually pay out a lump sum shortly after you’ve been diagnosed. As is the case with some cancer insurance policies, this payment can be used for medical or non-medical expenses.
Something to keep in mind as you consider this type of insurance: critical illness plans have their fair share of critics. Many say there are better ways to prepare for one or more of these illnesses.
8. Don’t rely on cancer insurance alone.
Before purchasing a cancer insurance plan, make sure your existing health insurance coverage is good enough. Cancer insurance is designed to supplement your primary health plan. If your primary health plan is poor, you'll probably be better off buying better health insurance before adding cancer insurance.
9. Don’t assume that duplicate coverage will provide you with double the benefits.
Not only is it costly to double up on health insurance coverage, but it can be a waste, too. Especially if cancer insurance covers the same ground as your basic health plan.
Instead,find a cancer insurance policy that fills in the gaps left open by your basic health plan. Carefully compare the benefits associated with your basic health insurance plan to any potential cancer insurance plans. Make sure there isn’t too much overlap between the two in terms of what is covered.
10. Carefully compare benefits and costs before you buy a cancer insurance plan.
Cancer insurance plans cover a wide range of costs and treatments and services. Don’t assume what one cancer insurance plan covers is also covered by other cancer plans.
In fact, some cancer insurance policies only provide you with a single lump-sum payment. Also, some policies have waiting periods that force you to wait weeks and even months before your coverage kicks in. Others stop paying out after a certain period of time.
What does cancer insurance cover?
While coverage amounts vary, most cancer insurance policies pay for the following:
- Doctor visits.
- Hospital stays.
- Prescription drugs.
- Blood transfusions.
- Ambulance rides.
More expensive cancer insurance plans may pay for additional benefits like outpatient treatment as well. These plans also tend to feature better waiting periods and coverage limits.
Lump-sum cancer insurance plans are more flexible. Most don't restrict how you can spend the resulting funds. You can spend it on mortgage payments, housing, groceries — pretty much anything.