No one wants to have to plan ahead for a serious health problem. But if you have a family history of cancer or are otherwise at a higher risk, you may be concerned that your basic healthcare plan won’t provide enough coverage in the event that you someday need costly cancer treatment. In that case, a cancer insurance policy might give you some peace of mind. It’s important to note that you are only eligible for this kind of insurance prior to a diagnosis, so you want to think about buying a cancer policy before you could potentially need it.
What Does Cancer Insurance Cover?
A cancer policy is designed to fill the financial gaps when benefits stop being paid or expenses are not covered under a basic health insurance policy. Cancer insurance can help pay for both medical and non-medical costs like co-pays, deductibles, lengthy hospital stays, diagnostics tests, treatments and procedures, child care, travel and lodging expenses, lost income and more. Cancer policies vary on eligibility requirements and on the specifics of what is covered and how payments are made. Some pay a lump sum when you receive a cancer diagnosis, while others pay for specific treatment and care expenses, either directly to the provider or to you.
Cancer insurance is not to be confused with critical illness insurance. A critical illness policy normally pays out a lump-sum for diagnosis of specific illnesses such as heart attack, kidney failure, or organ transplants. (These policies may also cover both medical and non-medical costs.) While critical illness and cancer insurance are different things, some companies offer a combined critical illness/cancer policy.
If you’re looking to explore your options, read on for some of the best choices available for cancer insurance today.
The 8 Best Cancer Insurance Providers of 2020
- Cigna: Best Value for the Price
- United Healthcare: Best for Combining with Other Policies
- Aflac: Best for Fast Claims Payment
- Mutual of Omaha: Best for Combined Cancer and Critical Illness
- MetLife: Best for No Examination Requirements
- Physicians Mutual: Best for Additional Coverage Options
- United American: Best for Claims-free Premium Return
- Guarantee Trust Life: Best for Skin Cancer
Best Value for the Price: Cigna
Cigna provides a cancer policy that offers comprehensive coverage beginning at around $19 per month, with lump-sum benefit payments available in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. Family coverage and individual coverage options are available for ages 18-99, including coverage for cancer recurrence. Policy riders are also available for critical care conditions like heart attack and stroke. Two types of cancer policies are available: a lump-sum payment policy, or a cancer care treatment policy. Benefits are included for surgery and hospitalization, chemotherapy, radiation, transportation/lodging, rehabilitative therapy, extended care facility stay, hospice care and family care such as child and pet care expenses.
Best for Combining with Other Policies: United Healthcare
United Healthcare is one of the largest health care organizations in the world. It provides medical benefits in all 50 U.S. states and in more than 130 countries and offers a combined critical care/cancer policy in values of $10,000 to $50,000. With this combination, you are covered for cancer treatment costs along with costs for other serious illness like heart attack, loss of hearing/speech, organ transplants, paralysis, coma, renal failure stroke and more. United Healthcare also allows policyholders to combine critical illness/cancer coverage with short-term medical, dental, life and accident plans so you can have all your coverage in one policy.
Best for Fast Claims Payment: Aflac
Aflac is the largest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States. It was founded in 1955 and has an “A+” financial stability rating from A.M. Best. Their cancer policies are available through employer plans or directly to individuals, and the coverage is portable, which means that if you change jobs, your employer plan coverage goes with you. You can receive payment in a lump-sum or over time up to $100,000. Available options vary by state, and there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins. The Aflac cancer policy covers cancer wellness check-ups, treatments like chemo, radiation, experimental treatments, stem cell replacement and bone marrow transplants, as well as hospitalization benefits, continuing care benefits, ambulance, transportation, and lodging. There are three cancer diagnosis benefits: initial diagnosis, medical imaging with diagnosis and NCI evaluation/consultation.
One thing Aflac is known for is its fast claim payments. Its “One Day Pay” is available for certain claims submitted online through the Aflac “SmartClaim” process. To be paid by the next day, the claim must be submitted by 3 p.m. ET and include all required documentation.
Best for Combined Cancer and Critical Illness: Mutual of Omaha
Mutual of Omaha is a well-known and highly respected insurance company. It offers two forms of cancer policies including a lump-sum policy and a cancer care treatment policy. Cancer care and critical illness are combined so that you are covered for conditions and sudden illnesses such as a heart attack or stroke. Policies are available to both individuals and families for ages 18-89 in amounts from $10,000 to $100,000 in policy terms of 10, 15, 20, 30 years or a lifetime coverage policy. Additional coverage options include lost income and travel expenses.
Best for No Examination Requirements: MetLife
MetLife cancer policies are available through employer benefit programs and provide coverage in a lump-sum payment for annual screenings, initial diagnosis, cancer recurrence, cancer treatments, hospitalization and more. Premium payments are automatically deducted from your payroll. (You can take your coverage with you if you change jobs during your policy term.) There is no examination required to receive coverage, and it is guaranteed renewable. There is also no waiting period for coverage to begin.
Best for Additional Coverage Options: Physicians Mutual
Physicians Mutual has been in business since 1902 and has an “A (Excellent)" rating from A.M. Best. Its cancer policy benefit is paid either directly to you or to your provider (your choice ) and is one of the most comprehensive cancer policies available. Coverage includes preventive care, inpatient treatments, surgery, cancer treatments, transportation, lodging, home health care, miscellaneous treatments (breast reconstruction, artificial limbs, wigs), medical equipment, hospice care, extended care facility stays, private nursing care, blood/plasma/platelets and has a rider available for first cancer diagnosis benefit payment. Waiting periods and exclusions apply to coverage options. Critical care coverage may also be added by policy rider, which covers heart attack, stroke or heart bypass surgery, and is available to policyholders up to age 65. There are limitations for pre-existing conditions and the rider benefit is restricted for the first 90-days immediately following the rider effective date.
Best for Claims-free Premium Return: United American
United American offers a cancer policy that is guaranteed renewable for life for individuals and families. It offers coverage in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, and is rated “A+” Superior by A.M. Best. Its cancer policy is a lump-sum payment policy available to individuals or families in amounts of $10,000 to $50,000 with a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins. Some of the benefits include first occurrence benefit of $1,500, surgical benefits up to $3,750, daily hospital confinement benefit $150 or $300, radiation and chemotherapy, blood and plasma, private-duty nurse and an ambulance benefit. It excludes hospital stays where a covered person does not incur a charge, losses outside of the U.S., services furnished by members of your household or immediate family, expenses for services or materials not medically necessary and any losses incurred prior to the policy effective date. A unique benefit of the United American cancer policy is its “good risk benefit” which pays $250 for each covered adult each fifth year that the policy is in force for no claims.
Best for Skin Cancer: Guarantee Trust Life
Guarantee Trust Life (GTL) has been in business for over 80 years and has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau. GTL offers a combined cancer/heart attack/stroke policy that pays a lump-sum benefit up to $75,000 for ages 18-65 and $50,000 for ages 66-90. Coverage is provided in 49 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Policyholders have free access to the “Ask Mayo Clinic” support services where you can speak with a Mayo Clinic nurse 24/7 for medical advice. You can add a policy rider to cover cancer recurrences, and if you undergo an approved experimental cancer treatment, your benefit is increased by 25%. They also offer a $500 payment for each occurrence of skin cancer, up to a three-time lifetime maximum.
What Is Cancer Insurance?
Cancer insurance is a type of supplemental health insurance that’s meant to mitigate the extensive costs of cancer treatment. It’s purchased in addition to your regular health insurance policy rather than instead of it, and it’s sometimes offered in a bundle of critical illness insurances.
Those who have a genetic disposition to getting cancer often purchase these policies. They’re typically only offered to people who have not yet had a cancer diagnosis. Cancer insurance is a plan that you would purchase and hope you will never have to use.
How Does Cancer Insurance Work?
Cancer insurance works in conjunction with your health insurance plan. It’s a supplemental policy that you typically pay for monthly. Many health insurances don’t cover all the costs of a cancer diagnosis, and that’s where cancer insurance comes in. You’d have cancer insurance for backup if your primary policy declined to pay for a certain cancer-related procedure.
Cancer insurance can be paid out in a lump sum to the patient after a diagnosis is received, or in specific amounts to pay for treatments like chemotherapy.
Cancer insurance commonly covers:
- Tests, treatments, and procedures
- Visits to out-of-network specialists
- Lengthy hospital stays
- Co-pays and deductibles
- Child care
- Dietary assistance
- Travel and lodging for away-from-home treatment
How Much Does Cancer Insurance Cost?
Cancer insurance policies can vary in their costs because they’re based on coverage areas, benefits offered, how comprehensive the policy is, and the amount of coverage. A cancer insurance policy can cost as little as $19 per month for an individual.
Keep in mind that the cost of cancer insurance is in addition to the cost of your regular health insurance plan.
How Is Cancer Insurance Different from Health Insurance?
Cancer insurance isn’t a comprehensive medical policy. It focuses on providing coverage specifically for a cancer diagnosis. A cancer insurance plan won’t cover non-cancer medical care, such as vaccines or wellness visits.
Conversely, not all health insurance plans cover cancer diagnoses, and they might not cover prescription drugs, out-of-town lodging, or lengthy hospital stays if they do. Cancer insurance is purchased as a supplemental or additional policy to health insurance.
How We Chose the Best Cancer Insurance Companies
We chose these cancer insurance companies after reviewing popular insurers and comparing and contrasting them. These top contenders were chosen based on the kind of coverage offered, benefits included such as surgeries and hospitalizations, and the types of policies available, such as lump sum policies.
A.M. Best. "Physicians Mutual Insurance Company." Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
A.M. Best. "AM Best Rating Services: American United Life Insurance." Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.
Better Business Bureau. "Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company." Accessed Oct. 22, 2020.