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Cancer Health Insurance

Health Insurance for Cancer

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1 in 2 people in the UK will develop some form of cancer at some point according to the NHS, while over a quarter of all deaths are due to cancer. Cancer treatment isn’t likely to be an enjoyable experience for any cancer sufferer, but if you have private health insurance in place when your cancer is diagnosed you should be able to access private outpatient and in-patient cancer treatment and post-treatment testing, which could make the experience a little bit better. 

In addition, if you have a fully comprehensive health insurance policy you may be able to get a private diagnosis, which could reduce your waiting times too – an important consideration when it comes to cancer, where early detection is often vital.  

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Does every health insurance policy cover cancer? 

Yes, the vast majority of private health insurance policies issued in the UK should cover cancer treatment, and the most comprehensive policies may also cover private cancer screening and diagnosis.  

The one caveat to that is where the cancer was diagnosed before you took the policy out – in that case, the cancer will be classed as a “pre-existing condition”, which generally won’t be covered. 

How much time could this type of policy save me if I do develop some form of cancer? 

Because early detection is vital in the treatment of cancer, NHS waiting time targets for cancer screening and cancer treatment are often much shorter than for many other conditions.  

The NHS aims for a maximum waiting time of 28 days from the date of a referral for cancer screening to the date you receive the test results. If tests identify any tumours or cancerous cells then the target waiting time between the date the hospital receives an urgent suspected cancer referral and the start of cancer treatment is 62 days.  

Still, if a private health insurance policy can reduce these time frames by even a week or two then so much the better, because time really is of the essence when it comes to cancer treatment. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that it may be possible to get your own private hospital room when you go private, instead of being admitted to a shared hospital ward, and you may also be able to receive treatment at a hospital that is closer to home, instead of travelling further afield for treatment.  

How much does health insurance for cancer cost? 

The price you pay will depend on a whole host of risk factors, many of which will be unique to you, so it’s difficult to predict how much you’re likely to pay without comparing real quotes. 

For instance, your age, lifestyle, smoking habits and drinking habits will all influence the cost of your health insurance policy, with people who smoke and/or drink more than the recommended amount having a higher risk of developing cancer, which could in turn push their premiums up. 

How much more expensive is health insurance for cancer if I’m a smoker? 

Smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer in the UK, and although it’s generally associated with lung cancer cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for a wide range of other cancers too, including mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, tracheal cancer and bronchial cancer.  

It’s not just your airways either – smoking can contribute to the development of cancer in other parts of your body as well, including your kidneys, bladder, colon and cervix. 

The fact that you smoke is the single biggest risk factor for cancer means you are likely to pay considerably more for your health insurance, but just how much you’ll pay will depend on how much you smoke, how long you’ve been a smoker, your age and your other lifestyle factors.  

The best plan is to compare quotes from a wide range of health insurance specialists to get an accurate picture of how much you’re going to pay – and then consider giving up smoking as soon as possible. 

What else can I do to find cheaper cancer health insurance? 

We’d always recommend quitting smoking as the biggest and most important change you can make, but there are other lifestyle changes that could reduce your premium as well. 

Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, exercising regularly and reducing your BMI could reduce the amount you pay for cancer health insurance with some providers, and could also reduce your risk of developing cancer in the first place.  

What things does health insurance for cancer cover me for? 

That’ll depend on whether you opt for a ‘treatment only’ or a ‘fully comprehensive’ policy. Treatment-only policies will cover you for: 

  • Outpatient treatment after you’ve been diagnosed 
  • In patient treatment in a hospital or private medical centre after you’ve been diagnosed 
  • Follow-up scans, blood tests or other screening tests after treatment 

As the name suggests, a fully comprehensive policy will be more comprehensive, and will cover all of the above plus: 

  • Private diagnostic testing, including scans, blood tests and diagnosis 
  • Private biopsies 

What WON’T be covered? 

Besides the fact that ‘treatment only’ policies generally won’t cover private screening or diagnosis, most health insurance policies will also exclude coverage for: 

  • Conditions that were diagnosed before the policy was taken out 
  • Chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma and allergies 
  • Pregnancy care and childbirth 
  • Treatment for menopause 

If I receive a terminal cancer diagnosis can my private health insurance still help? 

Yes, many private health insurance policies will cover palliative care and hospice services if you’re given an advanced cancer diagnosis.  

It is worth double-checking your own health insurance policy’s terms around this though, just to be sure.   

Does this type of policy cover lost income while I’m undergoing cancer treatment? 

No, you’re thinking of a different type of insurance policy known as income protection insurance, which can insure you against the risk of lost earnings while you’re undergoing treatment for cancer or other medical conditions.  

A private health insurance policy, on the other hand, is only designed to cover the cost of private healthcare, rather than other costs that might occur above and beyond those medical bills.