The Cost of Cancer Treatment in Canada

It’s human nature to avoid thinking about our health deteriorating, but it’s a sad reality that nearly one in two Canadians will get cancer at some point in their lives, according to a report by the Canadian Cancer Society. Smart financial planning involves preparing yourself for unexpected as well as expected expenses. You can save enough money to cover your expected cost of living during retirement, but you also need to be prepared for unexpected expenses, such as a cancer diagnosis.

So, how much does cancer treatment cost in Canada? The short answer is: more than you expect.

The cost of your cancer depends on many variables, such as:

  • the kind of cancer you have
  • how early you’ve been diagnosed
  • the kind of treatment you undergo
  • how much time you need to take off work, and whether anyone needs to take off time to care for you

Another variable is location. If you live far from the nearest cancer-care centre, your out-of-pocket costs – transportation, accommodation, meals – will be higher than if you live nearby. The location also matters when it comes to paying for chemotherapy. Here’s why: In the past, chemotherapy was almost always given intravenously in hospitals, so it was covered by government health plans, just like other hospital-administered medications. But today, many kinds of chemo are taken orally, at home – and not all provincial health plans fully cover them. Currently, only British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba cover home-administered chemo.

There are ways to help cushion the cost. Government assistance may be available if your drug expenses exceed a certain percentage of your income, and there are special arrangements with some drug manufacturers. Applying for these programs can be complex and time-consuming, which is why cancer centres have social workers on staff to help you navigate the system.

Health insurance can also help you cover the cost of cancer treatment. Workplace health benefits like supplemental medical insurance will help you pay for medicines and equipment not covered by your provincial plan, and disability insurance will pay you part of your lost income while you’re off work. Both kinds of insurance come with deductibles and limits, and you’ll need to submit receipts to get your money back.

Critical illness insurance works a little differently. It can help you cover whatever expenses you incur while you’re fighting and recovering from one of the types of cancer that your policy covers, with no deductibles to pay and no receipts to submit. If you’re diagnosed with one of the serious illnesses covered by your policy, after the required waiting period (typically 30 days following diagnosis), your insurance company will pay you the entire amount of your policy, all at once, to spend on whatever you want. You could use the money to make up the difference between what your workplace health insurance covers and what you’ve had to spend on medicines. You could use it to cover the hotel bill that your spouse ran up while you were in an out-of-town hospital. You could pay someone to clean your house and look after your children, while you’re not feeling up to it. You could even use some of the money to go away for a weekend to rest and relax, once you’ve recovered your health.

How Much do These Types of Insurance Cost?

The younger and healthier you are when you buy your policy, the less you’ll pay each month. Usually, the longer the policy term (commonly 10 years, to age 75 or to age 100), the higher the cost. Policies that cover more illnesses cost more. And special features, such as getting back some of what you’ve paid if the policy expires or you die without making a claim, also cost more.

If you buy a 10-year-term critical illness insurance policy and renew it every 10 years, your cost will increase each time you renew. If you buy a non-renewable policy that expires at age 75 or age 100, your cost typically won’t increase as you get older. You can buy most critical illness insurance policies until you’re 65 and make a claim at any age during the policy term.

Make well-informed decisions with helpful advice from Nonmed Insurance Inc. today.