Cancer Insurance Pros & Cons

According to the American Cancer Society, about one out of two men and one out of three women in the United States will develop cancer during their lifetime. A cancer insurance policy can provide valuable benefits in the event you are diagnosed with cancer, but like any policy, there are pros and cons to the coverage.

Direct Benefits

Most cancer insurance policies will pay benefits directly to you and not to your doctor or hospital. You'll have the resources to use as you see fit to pay for expenses not covered by your regular health insurance like deductibles, co-payments and doctor visits.

Supplemental Coverage

Cancer insurance is considered supplemental coverage and not primary coverage, meaning you must have a regular health insurance plan before you can purchase a separate cancer policy. If the cost of your current medical plan is already prohibitive, being able to purchase a cancer policy may not be economically feasible. If you are covered by a major medical policy, you may already be covered for cancer treatments as well as other catastrophic illnesses such as heart disease or stroke.

Family History

Purchasing cancer insurance could be a good decision if cancer runs in your family. You'll have the peace of mind of knowing that you'll have the additional coverage that can save you financially as well as help to save your life.

Unnecessary Coverage

If you don't have a family history of cancer, and take preventive measures such as refraining from smoking, exercising and avoiding the sun, cancer insurance may be unnecessary. As a result, you would be paying money year after year for insurance coverage that you'll never need. According to the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, a Medicare supplement may be a better option, and low-income individuals who receive Medicaid won't need the additional coverage.

Non-Medical Costs

According to the National Institutes of Health, the total estimated costs associated with cancer in the United States in 2007 was $219.2 billion. Of that amount, $18.2 billion was a result of lost productivity such as time missed from work. Since the benefits of a cancer policy are paid directly to the patient, you can use some of the money to help pay living expenses if you are unable to work, in addition to helping with medical expenses.

Not Always Available

As with most forms of health insurance, you may not be able to get cancer insurance when you really need it. If you currently have cancer or have had it in the past and recovered, the likelihood of being able to purchase cancer insurance is low since you'll be considered a poor risk by insurers. The Wisconsin Office of the Insurance Commissioner also indicates that some insurers may deny coverage if they discover that you had cancer when you applied for their cancer policy, even if you didn't know it.