PLAN FOR THE HIDDEN COSTS OF BREAST CANCER

Last year we shared an article on my blog that spoke to the stark reality of the tragic impact that cancer has had (and continues to have) on almost every family in South Africa. It’s very rare, in fact, to meet someone who hasn’t either had cancer themselves, or has a close family member who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer.

As we wrote in our previous blog, cancer has increased exponentially and is, in many cases, treatable – at a cost; making cancer a life, health and personal finance issue.

According to South African cancer stats for the insured population, 100 000 cases are diagnosed in South Africa each year with 60 000 deaths from cancer each year. Around 1 in 4 men and 1 in 6 women are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime (figures for the general population are 1 in 6 males and 1 in 8 females) with the top cancers being breast, cervical, prostate, lung, colorectal and oesophageal.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women – accounting for over 50% of diagnoses, with some reports revealing that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Although survival rates are higher when cancer is diagnosed in the early stages – the cost can still be high and the treatment debilitating.

Old Mutual says that a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming news for any family. What usually follows is a process involving intense treatment, medical bills, time off work and psychological adjustment.

Treatment and recovery can be a long, difficult and even debilitating process for the patient and for her support. Apart from  having to cope with the emotional and psychological trauma of cancer, the side effects of treatment can have a dramatic impact on normal day-to-day activities and one’s ability to work and earn an income.

There are many ‘hidden’ costs to consider as well as factors like home adjustments, recuperation time and income replacement.

Direct medical expenses include operations, procedures and medication; palliative care includes pharmacist costs, nurses and psychologists. Recovery assistance is a cost that may not often be covered or thought of. The final cost of lost income occurs where illness prevents earning income.

In many of these cases medical aid won’t be sufficient – and other options include insurance – critical illness and/or gap cover; or you can choose to self-fund – but the affordability of this option must be carefully considered.

And don’t assume cover won’t be needed early on. It’s important to be prepared. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

The reality is that you need to have cover in place when you are younger as this is the most productive time of your life, when you are most reliant on your income to meet financial obligations, take care of your family and secure a comfortable future.

If you would like to review your medical cover, go to our contact page and let’s get in touch soon!

Posted in Blog.