So, should you worry? Yes, as cancer itself is on an evolutionary graph and is increasingly being related to environmental and lifestyle-related hazards. While India is set to overtake China as the most populous country by 2023, as per the UN’s World Population Prospects 2022 report, environmental and lifestyle-related risk factors such as obesity, radiation from mobile phone towers, vegetables grown in toxic water like rivers contaminated with industrial waste, increasing consumption of packaged food are increasingly posing a threat to the ever-expanding horizon of critical illnesses plaguing the country, particularly cancer.
And yet, despite the rising discourse on public health and given how non-communicable diseases including cancer are a major public health burden in India, the country has one of the lowest health insurance penetration in the world.
Before we dive into the who, why and what of cancer care insurance, let us look at some numbers. The estimated number of incident cases of cancer in India for the year 2022 was found to be 14,61,427 (crude rate:100.4 per 100,000). In India, one in nine people are likely to develop cancer in his/her lifetime. Lung and breast cancers were the leading sites of cancer in males and females, respectively.
By 2040, researchers predict that more than two-thirds of the world’s cancer cases will occur in low- and middle-income countries, and India falls in the low-middle category.
It is common wisdom that the treatment cost of a critical illness like cancer can rock the financial boat of an individual/breadwinner, and take a toll on their own and their family’s financial health, drying up savings and, often, affecting other dependent members of the family adversely. In the worst-to-worst case, it could lead to bankruptcy. And yet, health insurance penetration levels remain low, at best.Debunking some common cancer insurance myths
Some of the reasons accounting for low penetration of health insurance, especially critical illness cover, are low financial literacy, low levels of awareness and some common myths perpetuating misinformation. Let us bust some of those:
- Health insurance plans are expensive in India:
A solid health insurance absorbs the shockwaves of costly medical expenses. If cancer is detected in the early stages, the treatment costs can be much lower. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) guidelines allow people to pay their policy premiums in quarterly and half-yearly instalments. The Indian government also provides tax relaxation for health insurance premiums under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
- I do not have a family history of cancer; I don’t need to buy cancer insurance:
It is true that cancers are caused by genetic changes that a human body undergoes in its lifespan. However, although genetic mutations can be inherited, hereditary cancer accounts for only 5-10% of all cancers. Hence, there is no guarantee that a person will not have cancer because no one in their family has suffered from it.
- Cancer means a death sentence:
Cancer is not a fatal disease if diagnosed at an early stage. Regular screening leading to timely detection, getting access to the right information, and effective treatment can up the chances of recovery and survival to a great extent, allowing one to leverage the advances made by medicine.
- Surgery or biopsy may cause cancer to spread:
The surgical procedure of biopsy is used mostly to diagnose cancer. There have been unfortunate instances where a biopsy of a tumour has caused seeding (spread of cancer cell through bloodstream due to a cut made in the cancerous area for biopsy). However, such cases are rare. The best thing would be to take proper advice from a medical expert without unnecessarily worrying and adding to stress.
How insurance cover can help cover the hefty costs of cancer treatment
So have you invested in a robust health insurance policy providing cancer cover to ensure financial stability? One such health insurance that can help cover the cost of cancer treatment is The All-New Reliance Health Infinity Insurance Policy. This policy is an integrated and one-of- a-kind health insurance policy, launched by Reliance General Insurance, one of India’s leading private general insurance companies. The Reliance Health Infinity Insurance Policy offers everything ‘Zyaada Se Bohot Zyaada’ and lets you avail coverage of up to ₹5 crore, extended pre and post hospitalisation coverage, and many add-on benefits such as Reduction in Specific Illness Waiting Period, Unlimited Reinstatement of Base Sum Insured, OPD Cover, Double Cover, Maternity Cover, etc. The best part is the attractive discount rates offered by the plan that is geared to the insured.
More Global: To help you prepare for any healthcare emergency, Reliance Health Infinity Insurance plan offers global coverage, covering global emergency hospitalisation and day-care treatment of up to 100% of sum insured, within SI sub-limit of Rs. 50 lakhs. This means, you can seek medical help in case of an emergency without having to worry about high treatment costs.
More Time: In the case of most health insurance plans , you get a standard cover of around 12 to 24 months. However, Reliance Health Infinity Insurance Plan gives you the opportunity to extend your policy cover to 13 months, if the plan is for 1 year, and to 26 months, if the policy period is for two years.
More Cover: The Reliance Health Infinity Insurance offers coverage of up to ₹5 crore as SI, and gives users the additional benefit of adding ₹ 1 to 1.5 crore cover to the existing SI, taking the total SI up to ₹6.5 crore.
More Add-ons: From Double Cover, where you get additional 100% of SI for the same claim, to Air Ambulance cover, where you have the option of being airlifted to a nearest hospital in case of a life-threatening medical condition, and more, the Reliance Health Infinity Insurance plan comes packed with limitless benefits that allow customers to customise their policy as per their needs.