Cancer survival rates continue to rise thanks to advances in medical science, but will you be able to afford the best treatment?
50% of Australians will develop at least one form of cancer before the age of 85, and 20% will die from the disease, according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Although the prevalence of cancer continues to rise (incidence of cancer rose by more than 25% in the 25 years to 2007), the number of people dying from the disease has fallen, showing the leaps made by modern medical science with respect to cancer treatment.
The report has shown that cancer patients are increasingly living longer with two thirds now surviving for at least five years.
The cancers with the largest increase in survival rates were prostate and kidney cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The highest survival rates were lip, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancer and melanoma. All had a five-year survival rate of 90 per cent or more.
This is all undoubtedly good news, but what if you didn’t have enough money to cover the extensive and ongoing cancer treatment? What if you can’t afford to make choices about your care?
Many of us make the mistake of assuming that private health insurance and Medicare is all the cover we need. Neither of these will help you with all the medical costs you might face for surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Costs that may be ongoing for many months or even years. They certainly won’t help you meet your living expenses, mortgage and other costs that you will still incur during an extended period out of the workforce.
Critical illness insurance (also called Trauma Insurance) pays a lump sum in the event of a diagnosis of a predefined medical condition such as many forms of cancer. In the tragic event that you or a family member were to befall such an illness, it would undoubtedly be an incredibly stressful event. The lump sum payment can help to meet out of pocket medical expenses not to mention alleviate added financial pressures caused by the need to take time out of the workforce.
Consider the increase in survival rates for all cancers combined:
- 1982-1987 – 47%
- 1988-1993 – 52%
- 1994-1999 – 58%
- 2000-2005 – 62%
Impressive figures, undoubtedly, but are you prepared for the financial pressures that come with these increased survival rates?