According to shocking data from Cancer.gov, about four in every 10 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime. Some of the most common types of cancer include breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma (skin cancer). For most, cancer insurance isn’t a question – it’s a means of finding quality, affordable care in a time of need.
Mortality rates for every type of cancer are higher than other conditions but luckily, advancements in medical technology have made the fight against cancer more effective than ever before. In 2016, there were 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States and experts predict that survival rates will increase to 20.3 million by 2026.
Best Cancer Insurance:
- Best Critical Illness Insurance: Breeze
- Best for Supplemental Coverage: UnitedHealthCare
- Best for Fast Payouts: Aflac
- Best for Short Waiting Periods: MetLife
- Most Affordable: Cigna
- Most Comprehensive: United American
Like putting out a house fire, fast and aggressive action is critical in beating cancer and forcing it into remission. Unfortunately, many Americans put off seeking regular check-ups and treatments they need due to the cost of medical care in the United States. Estimates from Cancer Today find that even with health insurance, cancer patients paid an average of $5,714 towards their treatments.
The cost of treating cancer without insurance is staggering, as some types of cancers can require millions of dollars in treatment, depending on the disease’s speed of progression and its location. National expenditure for cancer care in the United States was $147.3 billion in 2017, and this number is projected to increase as Americans live longer and medical treatments continue to advance.
You may not want to think about the possibility that you may be diagnosed with cancer — or the possibility that your current health coverage won’t be able to cover all of your bills as you undergo treatment. Cancer insurance policies are a new type of health insurance coverage that acts as a supplemental safety net to help you cover the cost of hospital stays, chemotherapy and other types of cancer treatment.
A cancer insurance policy can help you fill in the “gaps” in your home’s finances in the event that you’re diagnosed with cancer.
Why Should I Buy Cancer Insurance?
You have a family history of cancer. Many types of cancer contain a genetic component that may make you more likely to develop it if someone in your family suffered from it. For example, Komen’s research on breast cancer development has found that breast cancers can mutate from generation to generation; if a woman in your family developed breast cancer, you are 65% more likely to develop the disease yourself. Ask a loved one about your family’s medical history to accurately assess your risk of developing cancer.
You don’t have much in the way of an emergency fund. If you’re struggling to make ends meet and save money, you might think that adding another health insurance premium to your budget is a waste. However, even the best health insurance companies have limitations on dollar coverage for certain afflictions. A few extra dollars a month can potentially save you thousands if you or a dependent is diagnosed with cancer.
Your health insurance policy has specific limitations on cancer coverage. Some health insurance companies limit the amount of money that they’ll payout for a specific diagnosis. For example, your health insurance policy may offer you $500,000 worth of coverage for medical expenses annually after you’ve maxed out your deductible, but it may also have a condition in place that states that only $100,000 of this coverage can be used to treat breast cancer. Take a look at your current health insurance policy or call up your representative to learn about limitations on coverage. If your policy has limitations on a strain of cancer that runs in your family, additional cancer insurance can give you peace of mind.
What to Look for in a Policy or Company
Cancer insurance is not a replacement for comprehensive coverage. Investing in cancer insurance might be a good idea if you are predisposed to a certain type of cancer but it is not intended to be a stand-alone policy.
Most cancer insurance policies act as add-ons to cover additional costs associated with cancer that your standard insurance won’t pay. If you aren’t already protected, check out our guide on how to get health insurance to fully protect yourself.
Cancer insurance often covers more than just medical costs. When most people imagine the cost of cancer, their mind immediately goes to chemotherapy bills and medication expenses. While cancer insurance will cover the costs of treatments that your health insurance doesn’t cover, it can also help you pay for unexpected expenses that come as a result of treatment — like childcare when you visit your doctor or travel and lodging if you must visit a treatment center that’s far away from home.
Of course, the specifics of what each individual policy covers vary depending on who issues the coverage, so make sure you completely read your plan before you sign.
Most health insurance policies adequately protect against cancer. Duplicate medical coverage is redundant, expensive and unnecessary. If you have a standard risk of contracting cancer and your family history does not include an inheritable type of cancer, your current medical insurance is probably more than enough to cover you against the risk of developing cancer.
You don’t need it if you’re young. If you’re younger, you could secure a lower premium for cancer coverage, but this is only because you are much less likely to contract cancer than someone who’s older. If you’re young, focus on maintaining a healthy weight, avoid cigarettes and tanning beds and get regular cardiovascular exercise, all of that will do much more in the long term to protect you against cancer than any additional policy.
You may be able to upgrade your current insurance. Love your current health insurance except for its cancer policy? You may be able to upgrade your insurance with a rider to cover an additional percentage of cancer treatment costs for a few extra dollars a month.
Before you seek expensive alternative coverage, talk to your insurance agent and discuss your upgrade options.
The Best Health Insurance for Cancer Patients
Take a look at the following health insurance companies and compare quotes at once.
Founded in 2019, Breeze put the kibosh on an old, outdated establishment — disability insurance companies. Instead, Breeze left pushy salespeople in the dust and implemented a 100% online application process. Breeze uses automated underwriting technology. Individual long term plans start as low as $9 per month.
When you’ve got cancer, good insurance coverage is a huge necessity. Critical illness insurance provides a cash benefit if you experience a covered illness, including cancer. Breeze’s affordable rates and a fast online application makes it easy to find individual critical illness insurance coverage at a price that works for you.
Check out the steps you need to get covered:
- Find out if you can get covered.
- Check your rates.
- Complete Breeze’s simple online application process and get a fast coverage decision.
- File a claim for your critical illness insurance benefits.
- Receive your cash benefit.
- Get a one-time lump-sum payment to help cover out-of-pocket expenses or anything else you need.
If your current health insurance plan leaves something to be desired in the cancer coverage department, United Healthcare’s got your back.
United Healthcare offers a critical illness benefit plan that can be combined with your current healthcare plan to provide additional financial coverage in the event that you’re suddenly stricken by cancer (or another serious condition, like a heart attack or stroke) to cover your bills in addition to the cost of treatment. When you’re diagnosed, United Healthcare provides a lump-sum payment between $10,000 and $50,000, depending on your plan and your condition.
United Healthcare’s critical illness coverage is intended as a supplementary source of coverage while your health insurance handles the majority of your cancer treatment costs. There are no limitations or restrictions on how you can use your payment after you’ve been diagnosed.
From transportation costs to and from your doctor’s appointments to mortgage payments that you miss as a result of taking time off from work, United Healthcare’s support offers more than enough coverage to take care of the little expenses that can easily allow you to slip into debt if you don’t have an emergency fund in your home.
United Healthcare’s policy states that coverage for cancer is viable only for men and women who are diagnosed at least 90 days after they’ve signed onto their policy — so don’t wait until you’re heading into the hospital to consider getting covered.
A consistently highly-rated insurance provider, Aflac is one of the country’s largest providers of supplementary insurance. Aflac’s cancer protection insurance is comprehensive, and its waiting period is only 30 days after signing up for your policy.
flac’s “portable coverage” options allow you to move or retire without fear that your policy will be canceled or restricted, and you can sign up for up to $100,000 in cancer coverage for one low weekly premium. Unlike other insurance providers, Aflac also offers you the option to take a single lump-sum payment or have your payment divided into smaller payments over time (though this option is not available in all states due to legal restrictions).
One unique quality that sets Aflac apart from competitors is the company’s focus on fast payouts. Aflac’s “One Day Pay” policy claims that it will pay out qualified claims in as little as 24 hours after documentation is submitted, so long as all claims are filled-out correctly online, have all the required paperwork attached alongside them, and are into a representative before 3 p.m. EST.
While waiting a few more days for a payout may not seem like a major disadvantage in the grand scheme of cancer treatments, Aflac’s quick processing might be the best choice for you if your main concern is your lack of an emergency fund, as household bills can quickly pile up on a credit card if not properly managed.
If you have employer-sponsored healthcare coverage, you can quickly and easily add additional cancer insurance to your policy through MetLife. MetLife’s cancer insurance policies are well-known for short waiting periods and long-lasting coverage; as long as you stay at your current job, you’re covered with MetLife, and you’re covered from the day that you sign on.
Certain MetLife policies can even follow you if you decide to leave your current job or transition into a new career path. MetLife also makes it easy to pay your premium by offering an option to have your premium immediately discounted from your paycheck after taxes by your employer — no more struggling to remember when your premium is due or scrounging for cash at the last minute to cover costs.
Like most cancer insurance providers, MetLife pays out a single lump sum to you following your diagnosis. Its claims processing time is ten days, which is a little longer than some other cancer insurance policy providers like Aflac. If you’re looking for an easy way to upgrade your employer-sponsored healthcare coverage, MetLife is a comprehensive option that doesn’t require a lengthy medical exam or health questionnaire to get started.
If your chief concern is the cost of your cancer insurance, Cigna should be one of your first stops. Cigna offers lump-sum cancer insurance policies for as little as $19 per month, and policies are available for you if you’re between the ages of 18 and 99. Depending on your policy choice, you can expect to receive anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 in compensation following a cancer diagnosis when insured with Cigna.
Cigna offers two cancer insurance policy options: a lump-sum payment policy and a cancer treatment policy that covers the actual costs you’ll incur when seeking treatment for your condition. Cigna’s lump-sum payment option is similar to other cancer insurance policy add-ons: You receive a single payment when you are diagnosed and you can use the money from your payment to cover any medical or non-medical related expenses that you incur as a result of taking time off for your treatment.
On the other hand, Cigna’s cancer treatment plans include payments for individual cancer-related costs incurred, like radiation therapy appointments, rehabilitative care and extended-term hospital stays. Cigna’s cancer treatment plans may be more expensive, but it also covers many of the expenses associated with a cancer diagnosis after you’ve met your deductible, which makes it a more holistic option for cancer insurance.
5. United American
United American offers cancer insurance and critical illness insurance policies for both individuals and families. Its policies are renewable as long as you pay your premiums on time and you offer a number of benefits depending on what specific cancer-related expenses you incur. For example, depending on your plan, you may receive a benefit when you are first diagnosed, when you undergo surgery and for each day that you spend in the hospital.
United American’s policies are comprehensive and waiting time is just 30 days, but be careful — policies from United American specifically exclude stays and costs incurred in hospitals outside of the bounds of the United States.
If you’re the type of person who’s frequently taking excursions to faraway lands or your job requires that you often travel internationally, you may want to consult with your current health insurance provider for an international upgrade instead.
Understanding Cancer Insurance
Before you invest in cancer insurance, understand your risk factors and the amount of financial support you would receive right now under your current comprehensive health insurance policy. Most cancer insurance policies have a caveat that states that they will not offer payment for costs covered by other insurance policies. If you already have great health insurance that covers all of the costs associated with a cancer diagnosis, you may end up wasting money.
Consult with your insurance representative and ask about benefits for cancers that run in your family, as these are the illnesses you are most likely to contract during your lifetime.
Want to learn more about health insurance? Check out Benzinga’s guides on the best affordable health insurance companies, the best short term health insurance companies and the best self-employed health insurance companies.