Walking to the post office yesterday, I passed by an insurance company’s office that prominently displayed “Cancer Insurance – are you protected?” in the window. Huh. Never heard of it. A (very) little inquiry on line, however, showed me just how behind the times I am.
Hundreds of insurers, both large and small, are very willing to insure you for this dreadful disease. As with any policy, however, there are stipulations. For example it is standard that one must be cancer free for 5 to 10 years. If one is diagnosed with cancer within 30 days of getting a policy, the insured has the choice between voiding the policy with a refund, or waiting two years before collecting any benefits. Roll the die, and take your chances.
On an individual level the concept of cancer insurance seems reasonable. I certainly do not fault those who choose to get the insurance. It can make the difference between losing one’s home, and keeping it. Battling the disease, or battling the debt collectors. Having had a serious illness myself, I know worrying about anything but getting healthy again can be completely overwhelming, and impede healing.
I question an industry that makes money from this devastating disease. One can argue the industry is filling a void. While that may be true, it then points out a failure of our health care system. Why are people having to collectively pay billions on what should, and could, be avoided to a much greater extent?
The National Institute of Health estimates that 1,529,560 men and women (789,620 men and 739,940 women) will be diagnosed with and 569,490 men and women will die of cancer of all sites in 2010. The estimated overall costs of cancer in 2007 in the United States was $219.2 billion. Of that, $89.0 billion was due to medical costs and $18.2 billion was due to lost productivity costs. That’s a heck of a lot of money, and an uphill battle.
There are hundreds of chemicals on the market that pose serious health risks, and the self regulated industries that keep putting them out there have very little resistance. The consumers are paying every which way, all while fighting for their lives. Grrr.