Cancer Covered


How Health Insurance Can Ease the Concern

The Royal College of Radiologists have found that cancer patients are facing worsening delays and compromised care, with half of all NHS cancer units now reporting frequent delays for radiotherapy and chemotherapy. As Dr Tom Roques explained in the clip below to Sky News, the NHS is; "Really short of cancer specialists at all points in the pathway."



 One question our advisers get asked frequently is “does health insurance cover cancer?” Policies and cover vary, but the answer is yes, health insurance policies can cover all types of cancer. You can of course get treatment for cancer on the NHS, but private treatment can give you shorter waiting times, a choice of hospitals and a wider range of better medicines and treatments, some of which are unavailable on the NHS. We’ll take a look below in more detail about how health insurance can ease your worries around cancer.

The Big C

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a scary time for anyone, despite the frequency of diagnoses in the UK. As figures show, ‘One in two people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime’. [1] The reality is simple: very few of us will get through life escaping a connection to the disease.
While diagnosis alone is worrying enough, having a delay to beginning treatment is likely to compound the stress. And rightly so, as the Royal College of Radiologists warns - "for some cancers, an extra wait of a month can make a 10% difference to survival rates." 
This is where health insurance can help ease your worries and get you on the path to a cancer-free life. Private treatment for cancer can give you shorter waiting times, a choice of hospitals and a wider range of better medicines and treatments, some of which are unavailable on the NHS.
It’s also important to understand that private healthcare never competes with the NHS, but complement and work hand-in-hand with it. You can tailor your private medical insurance to integrate more or less within the NHS. We look below in more detail about how health insurance can ease your worries around cancer.


Health insurance allows you to prioritise your health, to be proactive about protecting it and to monitor it more closely. Policies vary, but they all have their own individual ways to encourage and motivate you to live healthier lives; such as rewards for healthy food choices, discounted gym memberships or support for quitting smoking. According to Cancer Research UK’s cancer risk statistics; ‘Around 4 in 10 UK cancer cases every year could be prevented, that’s more than 135,000 every year.’ [2] So it’s really important to have the correct support in place for prevention as well as cure. Some policies will pay for procedures to prevent further cancer if you have already been treated for cancer – for example Aviva would pay for a mastectomy to a healthy breast in the event that you’ve been diagnosed with cancer in the other breast.


Early diagnosis is critical with cancer. Survival rates (people who live for five years or more) are up at 90% or above for common cancers such as bowel, breast and ovarian cancer - if they are caught at the earliest stage. ‘Cancer that’s diagnosed at an early stage, when it isn’t too large and hasn’t spread, is more likely to be treated successfully. If cancer spreads, effective treatment becomes more difficult, and generally a person’s chances of surviving are much lower.’ [3] 
Putting your mind at ease can be much more straightforward with health insurance. Most offer online or phone based consulting – for example, Bupa have a ‘cancer symptoms direct access call line’, with trained advisers to take you through an assessment over the phone and – depending on your health insurance cover and nature of your symptoms, this could include referring you for an appointment with a consultant there and then. Most also have a Digital GP service where you could arrange a video call from the comfort of your own home and even within the same day in some cases.


Treatment without delay is as crucial as a quick diagnosis, and one of the most valued benefits of health insurance is skipping NHS waiting times. Any delay in treatment - even small - can be worrying at an already concerning time.

Health insurance can also provide access to breakthrough cancer drugs and treatments, often before they are available on the NHS. As well as access to the private network of specialist cancer centres, hospitals and consultants. Some policies also cover the option of chemotherapy treatment delivered in the comfort of your own home. If the cancer becomes untreatable, palliative care at home is often included in policies too.



Choosing the right policy

When selecting the level of cancer cover you would like, the options are generally as below:

  • Cancer cover is included within the core cover. This means your diagnosis will be covered by your out-patient limits and treatment will be covered by your in- and day-patient cover

  • Full cancer cover add-on. This will cover all diagnosis and treatments of cancer without limits.

  • Advanced cancer drugs. This will give you access to experimental trial drugs that have been shown to be effective but are not normally available via the NHS.

Provided you have cancer cover in your core cover or as an add-on, you would be able to have CT, PET, MRI scans and any specialist consultations. Once you’ve received a diagnosis you can then begin to receive treatment under your policy.

Your policy will cover all in-patient and day-patient treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and out-patient consultants in full. This means that whether you need an operation, or the latest drugs and radiotherapy treatment, your insurer will cover these costs. The good news is that even if you’ve opted to reduce your out-patient cover, when it comes to cancer treatments your insurer will generally remove your limitations and cover you in full.

Key Takeaways

Levels of cover, what’s included and what’s not, do vary between insurers and policies. It is always a good idea to seek advice regarding which health insurance policy suits you best. Here at Usay Compare, our expert advisers are available on the end of the phone to do all the hard work for you. They will get to know you and your requirements in depth before comparing all the leading insurance companies to find the policy to suit you and your budget.

[1] Macmillan Cancer Support/ ICM online survey of 2,096 UK adults. Fieldwork undertaken 22nd-24th March 2017. 



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