One of the largest consequences of a cancer diagnosis is the financial implication. The immediate concern is, of course, meeting the treatment and associated expenses. Luckily, in the Indian context, in most cases, the family rallies around to handle this leaving the patient to focus on getting better.
The larger concern, however, especially for those diagnosed young is addressing the financial provision for future medical claims – cancer itself or other medical ailments. For many of such patients, the diagnosis happens either when they are still covered as ‘dependants’ of their parents or as in my case, when I was between 2 countries/jobs and hence not covered.
The cost of private health care in India is rising steadily and being insured is almost a necessity for most.
In the flash of an instant for people like us, insurance coverage is gone and the disease becomes ‘pre-existing’ which changes the whole insurability status. Barack Obama’s Health Care Plan has some provisions for this by introducing a ‘High Risk Pool’ for this category. But of course, that’s the US, not India.
We spoke to some insurance agents and researched plans to understand the scenario in India. First, the bad news – very few options exist at the moment. New India Assurance provides coverage to members of the Indian Cancer Society (http://www.indiancancersociety.org/activities-ics/risk-insurance.htm) and Cancer Patients Aid Association (http://www.cpaaindia.org/activities/insurance.htm) – however, the caveat is that the person should not be a current or potential cancer patient – which is of little use to me!!
Star Health has developed a plan which seems to be a little more useful - http://www.starhealth.in/star-unique-insurance-policy/. From what I understand, there needs to be a 4-year claim-free period for pre-existing cancer patients before the claims can be covered for cancer.
However in the meantime it is worthwhile to get yourself insured against non pre-existing claims. So that in the event of a non cancer medical event, you are adequately covered.
We hope to build community opinion and canvass with corporate and insurance companies for better coverage plans – any help in this endeavour is welcome.