According to Cancer Research UK, around four in ten UK cancer cases each year could be prevented, that is more than 135,000 preventable deaths every year.
Many leading UK insurers have increased their focus on the prevention of illnesses and promotion of good health and wellbeing, they encourage and reward you for living healthier lives. Health insurance policies offer heavily discounted gym membership and fitness equipment along with support for stopping smoking and choosing healthier foods.
Some insurers now pay for procedures to prevent a further cancer developing. For example, if you have had breast cancer before and have a strong family history of cancer or have taken a test for breast or ovarian cancer and the results put you at high risk, an elective mastectomy or oophorectomy (removal of your ovaries) may be covered.
Early detection is the single most important goal in beating cancer and reducing the number of avoidable deaths from cancer. Early diagnosis gives patients the best chance of a cure or long-term survival. Once a cancer has spread or grown too large treatment becomes more difficult.
If cancers such as breast, bowel and ovarian cancer are caught at the earliest stage, the survival rate (people living for five years or more) significantly increases.
Health insurance speeds up your access to diagnosis, and should it turn out to not be cancer, gives you quicker reassurance, and less time to worry. With the enhancements to insurers digital GP services, it is even possible to have an appointment by video or telephone within the hour. Should you be concerned about skin cancer both VitalityHealth and Bupa offer a ‘remote skin assessment’ by video consultation. VitalityHealth offer a ‘cancer direct access service’ where you can call and speak to a trained advisor about your symptoms without the need for a GP referral. They can refer you to a consultant right there and then should it be necessary.
Private health insurance provides prompt diagnosis with cover for MRI, PET and CT scans, blood tests, X-ray’s, and camera-based investigations. Consultations and diagnostic tests relating to cancer are usually covered under the core cover of your health insurance policy. Should the diagnosis turn out not to be cancer the diagnostics and consultations will be paid for out of your chosen out-patient limit. Most insurers cover MRI, PET and CT scans as part of the core cover regardless of the diagnosis.
Once you have received a cancer diagnosis, getting treatment quicky will not only improve your chances of survival but also avoid any additional worry caused by delays.
The NHS target for starting cancer treatment from the point of diagnosis is 62 days. As of July 2019, this target has been missed for three and a half consecutive years. With the impact of COVID-19 it has made this target even harder to reach.
A health insurance policy will give you immediate access to private cancer treatment should you be diagnosed. It gives you access to specialist cancer centres and the ability to choose your own cancer specialist. Should you require it, chemotherapy can even be delivered in your own home.
Another benefit of health insurance is having access to breakthrough cancer drugs and treatments that are not available on the NHS. Some insurers will also pay for experimental treatment subject to proven effectiveness and on a case-by-case basis.
All leading UK health insurers cover your cancer journey no matter what path it takes, including cover for palliative care.