Insurers study shows gaps in cancer preparedness

According to the findings of a national ‘Cancer Financial Preparedness Survey’ by Future Generali India Life Insurance (FGILI), conducted in association with IPSOS, a leading global research firm, about 69 percent of people have no financial preparedness to deal with cancer.

The study states that the majority of Indians will dip into savings or take a loan to finance treatment for cancer.

The findings include:

Incidence: More than half (56%) of respondents were unaware of the incidence of cancer among family and friends. This is alarming, given that oncologists opine that 3 in every 10 Indians are likely to contract the disease by 2020. The survey revealed that 65.7%   (2 out of 3) cancer patients were detected in the 3rd or 4th stage of cancer.

Stage: 42% of respondents perceived themselves to be "somewhat" in the know of the various stages of cancer whereas 28% of respondents thought they were “completely aware”. In contrast, the oncologists’ survey revealed that only about 7% of patients hold "complete awareness" of the different stages of cancer, while 30% possess a "reasonable understanding" of the same.

Type: All respondents claimed to know about the different types of cancer (breast cancer and lung cancer featured high on the awareness radar at 45% and 36% respectively) whereas oncologists revealed that only a quarter of the people who visited them knew about the different types of cancer.

Cost of treatment: The majority of respondents estimated that the average cost of cancer treatment was INR390,000 (US$6,000). Oncologists disclosed the average cost of treatment to be upwards of INR500,000 depending on the type of cancer and stage of detection.

Additionally, the oncologists opined that a mere one fourth of the patients had any significant knowledge of the symptoms of cancer.

The survey revealed that a majority of respondents aren’t financially equipped to deal with cancer. More and more people fail to realize the importance of financial preparedness to deal with such an exigency in life which is obvious from the survey results below:

• An alarming 69% of the respondents have no financial aid whatsoever at their disposal to deal with cancer

• A scarce 21% of respondents have a specific ‘cancer’ insurance cover to facilitate their medical expenses, as per oncologists

• 26% of the respondents would resort to taking a loan to bear the cost of the treatment

• 31% of the respondents have not even deliberated on the need of a financial plan to fight cancer

• Almost 63% of cancer patients admitted to having sought their oncologist’s advice to fund the cost of treatment and consequent expenses

The national survey, conducted in association with IPSOS, a leading global research firm, covered two different groups (1) 1,314 people in the 25 & above age bracket across 11 major cities, and (2) 40 seasoned oncologists across key metro cities The objective of the research was to evaluate the awareness levels, the financial preparedness and gap between perception and reality of financial implications of cancer. The research was conducted across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Pune, etc.