In the delightful movie ‘Dasvidaniya’, Amar Kaul is a person in his mid-30s who has an unremarkable existence. His life is filled with many of the issues most of us face – lack of adventure, an irritating boss, and a bunch of unrealized dreams. He visits the doctor for what he thinks is a minor problem, only to be told that he has stomach Cancer and only three months to live. Realizing that he hasn’t lived his life to the fullest, he makes a list of ten things he wants to do before he dies.
When we hear the word Cancer, all of us freeze. That’s because for the longest time, cancer was a fatal disease. Once diagnosed with it, people invariably succumbed to it. But over the last few decades, massive leaps have been made in the treatment of Cancer. Today, many Cancers are fully treatable, if diagnosed early. Advances in treatment have meant that people can recover and resume normal lives even after Cancer treatments.
However, Cancer is one of the most serious illnesses there is. Treatment often involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, or a combination of the above. Treatments can cause both emotional & physical pain including mood swings, fatigue and the psychological trauma that can take a long time to heal. It is by no means an easy disease to overcome.
By 2021, over 13 lakh people are predicted to be diagnosed with some form of Cancer.
So, what can you do to ensure that you are prepared to tackle this disease? Of course, emotional support from the family & friends is one of the biggest needs of a Cancer patient but financial support is probably the cushion that people need to recover from the disease worry-free. Thus pay attention to the 2 Ps, ‘Prevention & Protection’
Prevention and screenings
a) Make healthier choices – Exercise, eat healthy and try to stay stress free. Even tobacco and alcohol consumption has been correlated with increasing the risk of the disease, so try and quit if possible. While all these are obvious, very few of us make healthy choices on a daily basis, right?
b) Tests and screenings – Health check-ups and screenings can help detect the early stages of Cancer, if any. If diagnosed early, Cancer becomes much easier to treat. An annual screening after the age of 40 in women (like Mammography, Pap smear, Ultrasound) and the age of 55 in men (PSA Ultrasound for men, apart from some tumor markers) can be helpful. Also, it just takes ₹1000 to ₹1500 a year to get these screenings done.
Choosing your financial protection a.k.a Health Insurance wisely!
c) Go for a higher sum insured in your health insurance:
- If you are living in a metro city, the cost of treatment may be higher vs. if you are living in a smaller town. So, choose a sum insured that can cover at least 1.25 times of the average Cancer treatment.
- The type of Cancer dictates the cost. But having a coverage of 5-7 lakhs is the minimum you should have if you are looking at average treatment costs.
- In case you are planning to buy a family floater policy, then increase the above expected coverage by 50% as it is shared between members of the family.
d) Check for copayments: Copayments are a feature of all Health Insurances wherein you are required to pay part of your claim based on the % of your Copayment. Many people often use Copayments to reduce their health insurance premiums. However, if you're looking for coverage against big expenses, a copayment may not be the best option.
e) Critical illness add-on: Some people have health insurance without Critical Illness cover. In such cases, they can look at a separate Cancer Benefit Add-on or Cover, though the suggested one should be a comprehensive cover that covers all Critical Illnesses, beyond Cancer as well.
f) Waiting periods: There is generally a waiting period of 30 days before any Critical Illness Cover is active for insured members. And unfortunately, if there is an existing Cancer condition or history, then getting a new policy becomes difficult and even increasing the sum insured becomes difficult.
If you take care of your health, get regular check-ups and have adequate health insurance, you are in the best possible situation to stop Cancer in its tracks.