Annually, 100 million people globally face poverty because of healthcare expenses, according to a recent forum hosted by the World Health Organisation and the government on the cost of medicine.
A US study tracked the finances of 9.5 million people older than 50 at two and four years after diagnosis.
A staggering 42.4% had depleted their life’s assets by year two.
By year four, financial insolvency reached 38.2%.
It’s not just medicine, it’s the lifestyle costs of cancer as well.
Which is why it’s imperative employers start asking if their employees are protected against the obvious – and less obvious – financial impacts of cancer.
While many employers provide medical aid and some insurance cover, it’s also important to help make people aware of the full picture in terms of costs.
In the event of cancer, having severe illness and similar policies in place can make a dramatic difference financially.
It’s really important for individuals to understand all the additional, non-treatment-related expenses and how certain policies can help cover these.
These are some of the most significant, non-treatment-related expenses:
Petrol and transport costs:
With yet more fuel hikes on the horizon in SA, this is a very real concern. Transport to and from doctors and treatment centres can add up, especially in rural regions, where patients may need to travel further to receive care. Accommodation costs may also be incurred.
Many patients seek alternative therapies, like counselling and acupuncture, for example.
Currently, a live-in caregiver earns around R54,000 a year, according to PayScale. That’s about R4,500 a month. This can vary considerably, depending on experience. St Luke’s Combined Hospices provides free palliative care to patients and their families.
Often, homes need to be adapted to make patients more comfortable.
Often, patients lose weight or want gentle, looser, comfier clothes, so it’s wise to budget for new clothing, including hats, pyjamas and slippers.
It’s also good to budget for a consultation with a dietitian regarding the best meal plan to follow, especially when experiencing chemotherapy, which can cause nausea and a lack of appetite. Then, food expenses might increase depending on the suggested diet.
It’s vital employers provide talks and create awareness to ensure employees are clear on the cover provided through the company.
For example, an employee needs to be aware if the company provides group risk cover and whether such cover includes cover for cancer.
If not, an employee could always take out cover in their personal capacity.
Karen Bongers is product development actuary for Sanlam Individual Life
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