Breast Cancer; Is Critical Illness a Financial Solution

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Image source: Indian Country Today

BY ANDREW STEWART 

When a doctor says the word cancer, our minds often enter into complete shock. Then, questions emerge. How serious? Is it treatable? What can I do? How long do I have? A question I wish we never have to ask, “How much will this cost?”

September is a beautiful month; it brings in fall, my second favorite season of the year, and a sense of rejuvenation to finish the year strong. But it also brings attention to a serious issue and message; Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A popular campaign that gets that message across and gets people involved in Get Pink’d! It’s an annual wear pink day in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. From coast-to-coast, organizations, businesses, schools and community groups come together to raise money for breast cancer research through this fun and easy fundraiser!

Part of that message is to educate the entire population about certain statistics and non-talked about issues such as; follow-up care, self image, relationships and the financial impact of breast cancer. There are many different kinds of breast cancer, each involving a different treatment plan. The length of time from the diagnosis to the completion of treatment varies depending on the type of breast cancer and at what stage it is diagnosed. Breast cancer diagnosed at an early stage may involve surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy) and possibly radiation. Here are some familiar statistics about breast cancer that most people know: Approximately 23,000 women and 200 men will be diagnosed this year. Approximately 5,100 will die of breast cancer this year. On average, 62 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day. On average, 14 women will die of breast cancer every day. Here is a statistic we’re not as familiar with but should be: In the 1960’s, 1 in 20 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, it’s 1 in 9.

Despite all of the campaigns raising awareness about breast cancer, these efforts have not had an effect on the decrease in the rate of breast cancer year over year, decade over decade. There is momentum to change the conversation and start talking about the importance of prevention, when it comes to breast cancer.

The cost of breast cancer; the financial hardship that often accompanies a breast cancer diagnosis comes as a shock to many. Treatments may involve additional drug costs, therapies and/or medical devices not fully covered by provincial health plans or private health care insurance. The average length of treatment for breast cancer takes place over 38 weeks but can often last as long as a year. Many young women in their twenties and early thirties have limited resources and move back with their parents during treatment. Single parents often struggle to make ends meet. Before critical illness was introduced the only way to survive was depending on your own savings, family support and possible liquidation of assets.

Now for the big question, is breast cancer covered by critical illness insurance? The answer is both yes and no. More often than not, it is treated as a partial payment. If you are diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer, this may not be payable under the critical illness policy. This is because this type of cancer does not fall under the category of “critical” since the new medical technology can now provide you with effective strategies to treat the cancer. Thus, you have a high chance of surviving this cancer. Before you even get your critical illness policy, you should talk to an advisor and have them do a comparison among the different insurance policies in the market.

Ask yourself some questions before you buy any critical illness insurance:

  • Is there someone else in the family who is earning an income?
  • How old are your children and dependents?
  • What is your level of monthly debt?
  • How long would you prefer to be off work without worrying about finances?
  • Does your employer provide you with critical illness coverage?
  • Get a policy you can afford, given your budget

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