Breast Cancer – a (financial) survival guide
Breast cancer. Two scary words in any language. It affects so many of us, and we are powerless against becoming a statistic. We do know, though, that early detection saves lives.
And whilst we are bombarded with information every October around our girls – how to examine them, when and where to go for medical check-ups, and potential risk factors, no one really talks about the financial check-up. It’s an overlooked issue and whilst treatment has improved tremendously over recent years, it comes at a high cost.
What’s the bottom line?
Treatment of breast cancer in private care can cost between R750 000 and R1.5-million, depending on the extent of the treatment (Campaigning for Cancer, 2013). These are startling numbers, and even more so when one considers that those that belong to a medical scheme, often assume that they will be fully covered for treatment. This is not always the reality though.
So what will be covered?
All medical aids, even hospital plans, have to provide some cancer cover, in the form of an ‘oncology benefit’ which can range from anywhere between R100 000 and R400 000, depending on the scheme. If your cancer is defined under the Prescribed Minimum Benefits definition (PMB), then the scheme would have to continue to pay for treatment at cost, even if the oncology benefits have been exhausted. There are various cancers that qualify under the PMB definition – your medical scheme can provide you with more details.
If you run out of benefits, they may continue to pay for treatment, but there may be a co-payment needed from you, depending on your scheme rules.
The cancer journey has many twists and turns. There is no clear way to determine how extensive your treatment will be or what the exact cost will be. It is critical to know what benefits your medical scheme provides, so there will no financial surprises if you are diagnosed with an illness such as cancer.
Time is money and money is time
What about loss of income whilst you are recouperating? You may need weeks or even months off work whilst receiving treatment, which can leave you emotionally and physically drained.
If you work for a small firm they may need to replace you when you fall ill. If you are self-employed, no work means no pay. And if you are a housewife someone would have to be employed to do your duties at home, as well as take care of you.
Have you considered how you would fund all of this?
Taking the edge off…
Make sure you have sufficient financial cover, in the form of or severe illness cover. This will pay out a lump sum to you, which you can use at your discretion to fund medical costs, or allow you the time to fully recouperate, without having to worry about monthly living expenses.
You want to be able to channel all your energy into your recovery.
While we cannot predict the future, we can sleep easier knowing that we are financially prepared.