11 min Read
28 Nov 2019

Written by Andy

Does health insurance cover cancer?

Does health insurance cover cancer?Health insurance policies are designed to cover acute medical conditions; these are generally short-term conditions that can be diagnosed and treated quickly, such as appendicitis or a broken bone. Chronic conditions, which can be loosely defined as a condition or disease that lasts for three months or more are not normally covered on a health insurance policy. When it comes to cancer however, things start getting a little more complicated as some insurance companies will cover cancer as part of their core cover, whereas some won't.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 363,000 new cases of cancer each year, resulting in 164,000 deaths, a scary and sobering statistic. Once referred by your GP, the average NHS waiting time to see a specialist is around two weeks. If you have a private health insurance policy however, you are likely to get seen within 48 hours which can be crucial when it comes to getting urgent treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment is key, particularly when you consider the 5-year survival rates for cancer. When looking at breast cancer, the survival rate drops from 99.1% for stage 1 diagnosis to 87.6% for stage 2 diagnosis. It drops to just 55.1% if the diagnosis is made at stage 3. The NHS does a great job but gaining access to early diagnosis and treatment is something that many would consider, depending on the cost of the cover of course.

Does every health insurance company cover cancer as standard?

No. While most health insurance companies offer some form of cancer cover as part of their core cover, not all do and so if you are keen to be covered for cancer then you should do your research before committing to one particular insurance company. We explain later in this article how to get the best cancer cover on your health insurance policy.

What does health insurance with cancer cover include?

This is a difficult one to answer as every insurance company offers a slightly different list of benefits. That said, most insurance companies that provide cancer cover will provide the following:

  • diagnostic tests
  • out-patient consultations
  • surgery
  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy
  • in-patient and out-patient treatment
  • wigs and prosthesis
  • aftercare

Which health insurance companies cover cancer as standard?

Most health insurance companies offer an element of cancer cover as part of their core cover and that includes well-known providers such as Axa PPP, Aviva, Bupa and Vitality. Each insurer offers a slightly different level of cover and so the best way to ensure you are buying the most comprehensive policy is to speak to an independent specialist. Some insurance companies do not offer cancer cover as part of their core cover and so you may have to purchase an additional cover option (often referred to as a 'bolt on') in order to be covered for cancer.

Which health insurance company provides the best cancer cover?

Every insurance company provides a slightly different level of cancer cover benefits which makes it extremely difficult to compare. Another consideration is that different people will have different priorities. Some people may place higher importance on the choice of hospitals, whereas others may want more focus placed on aftercare. Below we have compared some of the key cancer cover benefits for five of the biggest health insurance providers.

Health insurance cancer cover comparison

Company Covered as part of Core Plan? Details In-patient and Day-patient care? NHS options Added Benefits
Aviva Yes Cover for cancer diagnosis, treatment and aftercare as standard Yes Able to take a six-week option to reduce premiums. If treatment is available on NHS within six weeks then you will be treated by NHS. Access to online health and wellbeing site ActivePlus
Axa PPP Yes Covered for radiotherapy and chemotherapy and have a dedicated team of cancer nurses to support you Yes Option to be treated by NHS to reduce your premiums. Discounts via online health and wellbeing site ActivePlus on wearable tech, dieting products and more.
Bupa Yes Cancer is covered as part of your core health insurance, there are no time limits and all your eligible cancer treatment costs are paid in full Yes £100 paid per day if treated by NHS where you could have been treated privately Access to Bupa rewards
The Exeter No Need to upgrade the cover to get unlimited cover for cancer – including access to all clinically approved drugs as well as pioneering treatments such as biological and hormone therapy Yes £250 paid per night if treated by NHS where you could have been treated privately Access to Healthwise, a member benefits service to help keep you happy and healthy
Vitality Yes All plans include Advanced Cancer Cover, which pays all eligible costs associated with cancer once diagnosed. This means if you're diagnosed with cancer, Vitality cover your in-patient and out-patient costs in full. Yes £125 paid per day if treated by NHS as day-patient and £250 paid per day if treated by NHS as an in-patient (where you could have been treated privately) Extensive partner rewards and discounts, check out our Vitality Health insurance review

Will I be covered for all cancers?

Yes. It does not matter what type of cancer you have been diagnosed with, if cancer is covered as part of your health insurance policy then you should be able to make a claim on your health insurance policy.

Can I get health insurance if I have cancer?

When you apply for health insurance you have the choice of being fully medically underwritten or applying on a moratorium basis. If you choose to be underwritten fully, then the insurance company will exclude any conditions for which you have previously sought advice, treatment or medication for and so it is unlikely you will be covered. If you choose to be underwritten on a moratorium basis, then all conditions for which you have sought advice, treatment or medication within the last five years are automatically excluded. Once you take a policy out, however, if you remain advice treatment and medication-free for two years, the exclusion is removed and so you may then be able to make a successful claim. To read more about how health insurance policies are underwritten, check out our article 'How to compare the best private health insurance policies'.

Can I get health insurance if I've had cancer?

Yes, there is nothing stopping you getting health insurance if you have previously suffered from cancer, however, remember that an insurance company will exclude any condition for which you have received advice, treatment or medication for in the five years prior to applying. Depending on the severity of your cancer, you could find that your options are limited when it comes to claiming, as many potential claims could be linked to your cancer diagnosis.

In this instance, Axa PPP may be your best option as they underwrite applications based on a 'specified' moratorium definition, rather than a 'related' definition. What this means is that they exclude specific conditions and place less emphasis on the link between conditions. For example, if you had high blood pressure in the past and had subsequently suffered a stroke, Axa PPP would likely cover you for the stroke whereas other insurance companies may see those as 'related' and so may not cover you. We would always recommend that you speak to an independent specialist in these circumstances as they have a wealth of experience and will be able to speak to the insurance company's underwriting department directly on your behalf. There is no-one better placed to understand which insurer is best based on your own unique circumstances.

What is the best way to buy health insurance with comprehensive cancer cover?

The best way to ensure that you are getting the most comprehensive health insurance cover is to speak to an independent specialist. Not only do they have access to every insurance company on the market, they understand exactly which conditions are covered and which conditions are likely to be excluded for each insurer. An independent specialist will tailor your cover to you and find you the best policy for your own unique circumstances. An advantage of an independent specialist is that you can provide them with the amount you are willing to pay and they can work backwards from that. This way you can get a policy that is perfectly tailored to you at a price that you are happy to pay.

We have partnered with one of the UK's leading private health insurance comparison specialists in order to provide you with the best and cheapest policies available. To get started, click on 'Get private health insurance quote'. You can either build your own quote or request an adviser from Assured Futures to call you back.

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