Tough economic times and pre-existing health conditions are making it more challenging to survive the financial toll of a cancer diagnosis
There is hardly a month in the annual calendar that is not marked by a cancer awareness campaign, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, and being proactive about annual health check-ups. There are more than 200 different types of cancer affecting one in four South Africans through diagnosis of family, friends or self and according to statistics from the National Cancer Registry, it is estimated that 120 000 new cancer diagnoses were reported in South Africa in 2020.
Despite its massive prevalence in our modern lifestyles, it is also a risk that is significantly underinsured, with most people oblivious to the enormous and often long-term financial ramifications of a cancer diagnosis, until it is too late. In a study conducted by the Financial Services Conduct Authority in 2019, only 12% of the population have any form of life cover, and that figure is expected to be significantly lower now following the economic impact of the pandemic and depressed household income.
“It’s never an easy conversation to have as no-one particularly enjoys contemplating the impact of a serious illness like cancer in their future. However, as a financial advisor, it’s a crucial one to have with your clients to ensure that they fully unpack and understand the ramifications of a cancer diagnosis on every aspect of their lives, their financial security now and in future, and that of their family and dependants. This is becoming an increasingly challenging balancing act as tough economic times, exacerbated by the higher costs of insuring pre-existing health conditions, are putting consumers into a difficult catch 22 situation. Tough economic times are driving a ‘buy-down’ trend in medical scheme benefits and life cover across the board, which means a commensurate decrease in the benefits and limits covered, and an increase in the uninsured risks your client could face,” explains Brad Toerien, a director and co-founder of Aynjil Cancer Insurance which provides absolute certainty in the time of a cancer-related health crisis.
“For people with other existing non-cancer-related conditions, broad-based critical illness cover can be prohibitively expensive due to premium loadings and exclusions on cover. In many instances, such people may forgo any form of critical illness cover as the high costs are simply untenable, and seemingly do not justify the perceived limited benefits,” adds Toerien.
Surviving the unknown
“Even with private medical scheme membership and critical illness insurance, there may still be gaps in your client’s cover. Depending on what medical scheme benefit they have, shortfalls and co-payments on cancer diagnostic tests and treatment do occur which may need to be funded upfront. Certain medical schemes also only fund biological treatments partially, if at all. Another important aspect is that comprehensive critical illness benefits are broad-based to ‘catch-all’ and thus are not perfectly suited to cancer – some will only pay out a percentage of the insured sum according to the stage and type of cancer, while some do not pay out for early-stage cancer at all. And early detection of cancer doesn’t necessarily reduce the unexpected cost of managing recovery or the debilitating effects of treatment. Furthermore, the broad range of illnesses covered under a comprehensive critical illness policy often makes this cover prohibitively expensive for many people,” adds Toerien.
Without any safety net, cancer patients may have to draw on their savings to fund any costs and loss of income, which may mean less or no money going towards retirement savings – which means they may have to work longer to make up the shortfall or downgrade their standard of living during retirement. It may mean dipping into education funds meant for their child’s future studies.
For young people in their 20s and 30s, a cancer diagnosis and treatment may very well interrupt their education and career progression which has a significant impact on earning potential – both current and future. The reality is that millions of South Africans have no safety net whatsoever when it comes to a health crisis like cancer due to affordability challenges. It is this glaring protection gap on one of the most prevalent critical illnesses that Aynjil Cancer Insurance steps in to solve.
“Aynjil Cancer Insurance is similar to critical illness cover, however it is more specialised and solely focused on cancer. This means we’re able to offer a lower monthly premium as we remove the costs that come with insuring a much broader range of critical illnesses. It also means that the benefits and terms are clear, very simple, 100% relatable to a cancer diagnosis and there is no medical underwriting required. As a policy holder, your client can opt for a fixed amount of cover between R500 000 and R2 million – and the policy pays out the full sum insred in a lump sum, upon a confirmed cancer diagnosis, regardless of stage or type of cancer. In addition to the lump sum cover, Aynjil also provides a suite of added-value, cancer-specific benefits that provide support for both medical and non-medical expenses that are unique to the recovery journey,” explains Toerien.
Why get cancer-specific insurance?
The impact of cancer on virtually every facet of life is unlike any other disease, and it is alarmingly prevalent in our modern lifestyles:
- The treatment is often worse than the illness itself – it can be sporadic, debilitating and often prolonged – with cancer treatment typically lasting 6-12 months. During this time, you may be unable to work and earn an income and face significant out-of-pocket and additional expenses. The lump sum payment from your Aynjil cancer cover will go a long way in relieving this financial distress so you can focus all your efforts and energy on your treatment and recovery during a time of tremendous uncertainty.
- Cancer affects the whole family – you may find yourself unable to fulfil household and parental responsibilities, spouses/partners may have to take time off work and you may have to hire additional child or nursing care to assist you. Aynjil’s cancer-specific benefits includes cover for counselling, a chauffer to assist you with travel to and from treatments, as well as tutor and au pair services to help lighten the load of parental responsibilities.
- The psychological and financial distress of a cancer diagnosis can be profound – it often brings extended periods of high stress and uncertainty, conflicting diagnoses and debilitating treatment regimes with unexpected side effects, and extra treatment costs. Aynjil pays an additional 10% of the main benefit value for a specialised precision genetic test and treatment plan, an additional 10% of the main benefit value to cover breast reconstruction surgery and an extra 10% of the main benefit value should one of your children be diagnosed with cancer.
- Get a Medical Second Opinion – Aynjil provides for a Medical Second Opinion service that could change your diagnosis, your treatment plan and improve your health outcomes. You receive professional, clinical case management to help to keep costs down as well as direct access to the world’s best medical minds and treatment facilities. The MSO service is also available to immediate family members.
- There is a high chance of relapse – which also means prolonged financial and emotional distress. Aynjil cancer cover continues for the rest of your life after your cancer diagnosis. Should the same cancer return, it pays out a relapse benefit at a further 25% of the main benefit value. With reinstatement, you can claim the full insured amount on a second, unrelated cancer.
- Palliative Care – a trained care partner will take time to understand your unique situation – your support system, medical journey so far, challenges, needs and the worries you face daily, including treatments, side effects, stress, and financial concerns. The Advanced Care benefit will guide you in documenting your preferences for end-of-life care and nominating a healthcare proxy (someone who can legally make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you can’t). Much like a will, this is an important plan to set up regardless of your state of health.
What makes Aynjil Cancer Insurance different?
- No Medical underwriting – Advisors are often frustrated with long, complex, strict underwriting on traditional CI cover, that often sees the client paying a lot more than they expected, and sometimes with exclusions and loadings. With Aynjil, there is no medical underwriting required. The only conditions of cover are that the insured does not currently have, or has had cancer before, or have two immediate family members who were diagnosed with cancer under the age of 60. The sales process is completed in minutes, online and referral partners get a referral fee that has absolutely no cost impact for the insured.
- Cover for those previously denied or uninsured – For clients with non-cancer-related health issues that may make getting or increasing cover on medically underwritten critical illness cover difficult or costly, Aynjil cancer insurance provides peace of mind for one of the most claimed for conditions under all critical illness policies, at a very affordable premium. The reality is that cancer claims total more than all other critical illness claims combined.
- Ideal entry point for the first-time insured – Aynjil is an ideal first life insurance policy for younger clients who want to take care of their cancer risk without the hefty costs of comprehensive life and CI cover.
- A perfect top-up cover – taking out insurance shouldn’t be an either/or exercise when it comes to making sure you’re covered. Aynjil works well as top-up cover, strengthening any existing critical illness cover in place with the added-value cancer-specific benefits and additional payments. You can also assist clients to rebalance and save money by reducing thecritical illness cover and adding cancer-specific insurance.
- Easy, quick online application – cover is available from R500 000 to R2 million and application is completed in 3 minutes, online and requires no medical underwriting.
Aynjil Cancer Insurance is a specialised solution that complements your client’s existing financial and healthcare planning, providing the absolute peace of mind that should they ever experience a cancer-related health crisis, the only thing they will need to focus on is treatment and recovery.