A disease like cancer takes a toll on you emotionally, physically and financially as well, however the survival rates and the cost of cancer treatment decreases with early detection. Since many people in India lack awareness of health, cancer and lifestyle, cancer is detected mainly in the advanced stages, increasing the financial burden. The costs can’t be afforded and many people quit the treatment halfway through, due to which cancer survival rates in India is currently at 45-50%.
Why is Cancer This Expensive?
- Medical Equipment: Most medical equipment used for cancer is being imported from other countries. For example the LINAC, which is the most commonly used machine for radiotherapy, costs about 10 crore and even this cost varies in each country. The Cyberknife used in radiation therapy is more than 35 crores. Dozens of scans and test will skyrocket the final cost of treatment.
- Medicine: Herceptin drug which is imported for breast cancer patients costs around Rs. 75000/- for a course. Similarly the avastin drug which is used to treat colon, kidney, gall bladder and lung cancer sums up to around 8 lakhs for a cancer patient.
- Hospitals: Cancer patients outnumber the cancer hospitals in India adding to the high cost. If the cancer patient is an international patient then they have to spend 60-70% more than Indian patients. The beds, facilities, doctors are other major factors that influence the cost.
How Can This Be Handled?
- Health insurance policy
Even though no one wants to suffer from cancer it’s almost becoming inevitable, as cancer incidences in India are increasing yearly. If caring for your health is your priority, taking the right precautions should be too and you can do this through health insurance policies. By investing in this, you can cut down the expenses and increase your savings. New schemes with special features and higher covers are being launched by the insurance industry for chronic illnesses. (The most effective time to opt for health insurance is when you are well and free from health issues, not when you are sick!)
- Online portals
There are certain healthcare portals that offer free counselling and guidance to cancer patients depending upon the treatment budget that they are looking for. One such is the Cancer Helpline India – http://www.cancerhelpline.in/. They include a number of doctors and hospitals to consult with, and provides you with a list of comparatively reduced the costs.
- Financial advisor
An option is to get in touch with a financial advisor who would be able to guide you about health insurance policies, the right measures to take financially and financial planning.
We at the CARER Program understand how expensive cancer can be and therefore CARER connects you to a financial advisor who helps you on how to manage your finances effectively. To know more click on CARER Program.
- Critical illness cover
A critical illnesses (CI) plan covers a range of diseases. These critical illness covers can only be claimed during advanced stages of cancer and are paid as bulk.
As we all say “prevention is cure” cancer can be prevented through timely screenings which can reduce the cost.
India being a developing country and even though many claim to be in the middle class, the amount people falling in the low income group qualifies to be more than 90%. Therefore, such a dreadful disease which eats away all our hard earned savings needs government initiatives which are currently being launched. Government interventions with differential pricing options for drugs and healthcare schemes or compensations for those who fall below a certain income bracket is needed.