Future Generali India Life Insurance (FGILI), unveiled the findings of a national ‘Cancer Financial Preparedness Survey’conducted in association with IPSOS, a leading global research firm. This unique and multidimensional study surveyed two different groups (1) 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 & reality of financial implications of cancer.
Lack of sufficient cancer awareness
The results of Future Generali’s ‘Cancer Financial Preparedness Survey’ brought to light that there are inadequate awareness levels amongst people in Kolkata with regards to incidences, stages, types and cost of treatment of cancer as is evident from the findings below:
- Incidence: More than half of the respondents 56% were unaware about cancer incidences occurring within their sphere of family and friends. This is a worrying fact, considering that oncologists opine 3 in every 10 Indians are likely to contract the disease by 2020.
At a National level, the survey with oncologists revealed that 65.7% of their patients (i.e. nearly 2 out of 3) are victims of late diagnosis with cancer being detected only in the 3rd or 4th stage
- Stages:28% of the city’s respondents perceived themselves to be ‘completely aware’ of the various stages of cancer, 40% considered themselves ‘somewhat’ in the know whereas 33% of respondents considered themselves unaware of the stages of cancer. In contrast, the oncologists’ survey revealed that on a national level, only about 7% of patients who visit them hold ‘complete awareness’ of the different stages of cancer, while 30% possess a ‘reasonable understanding’ of the same.
- Types: 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 1/4th of the people who visited them knew about the different types of cancer (figures indicate findings on a national level)
- Cost of treatment: Respondents of Kolkata estimated that the average cost of cancer treatment was INR 3.6 Lakhs. Oncologists disclosed the average cost of treatment to be upwards of INR 4.7 Lakhs depending on the type of cancer and stage of detection
- Additionally, oncologists said that a mere one fourth of the patients (nationally) had any significant knowledge of the symptoms of cancer
Extremely poor financial preparedness for the treatment of cancer
Cancer treatment can vary depending on the type, stage and other health factors. The cost of treatment therefore, can also vary between 5 lakh to 20 lakh or more. In a breakthrough finding, the survey also highlighted significant dependence on the doctor for financial advice as patients inadvertently look up to them for assistance in dealing with the cost of medical treatment. Likewise, 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 73% of the respondents said that they have no financial aid whatsoever at their disposal to deal with cancer. Out of this;
à 34% of the respondents said they would resort to taking a loan to bear the cost of the treatment
à 22% of the respondents have not even deliberated on the need of a financial plan to fight cancer
à The remaining 17% respondents said they’d seek help from family and friends
- A scarce 35% of respondents have a specific ‘cancer’ insurance cover to facilitate their medical expenses
- Across the country almost 63% of cancer patients admitted to having sought their oncologist’s advice to fund the cost of treatment and consequent expenses
Great divide in perception and reality of customer’s understanding of the financial implications of cancer
Future Generali’s Cancer Financial Preparedness Survey also put into perspective the gap in perception and reality of the financial implications of this disease. Barring the cost of cancer treatment, majority fails to take into consideration the additional monetary burden that follows inevitably. The survey shows that the respondents were largely oblivious to the financial challenges patients and their families face in terms of loss of income, reduced earning capacity, cost of follow up treatment etc. thus plunging the family deeper into crisis.
Mr. Munish Sharda, CEO and MD, Future Generali India Life Insurance asserts that, “We commissioned this research to bring forth awareness of cancer in the country and gauge people’s preparedness to secure themselves financially against this dreaded disease. As an insurer, we believe we have an important role to play in addressing the two pressing issues of awareness and preparedness by reaching out to the consumers and offering them simple products at affordable cost, supported by a very convenient buying process. Future Generali Cancer Protect Plan is a comprehensive cancer insurance designed with the principles of simplicity, convenience and speed. It also provides an income option to customers for taking care of post treatment financial requirements.”
Appreciating FGLI’s efforts,Dr. Sandeep Goyle, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, who was a guest panelist at the event commented that, “Right diagnosis can determine the cost of treatment for cancer. The survey highlights that there is a clear need to create awareness on overall treatment and early detection. Patients need to be able to understand that right diagnosis will help curtail the cost of treatment and add to their overall quality of life.”
Yashish Dhaiya, Founder and CEO, Policy Bazaar – India’s largest Online distributor of Insurancewho was also a guest panelist at the event said, “Let’s face it – cancer is a modern day reality and its treatment is expensive. It can easily leave any family not only emotionally vulnerable, but also financially distressed. With no social security net existing in India, we believe that disease specific products like cancer insurance become essential covers to buy for people here. It is a noble act by insurers who are launching these products and creating awareness around them. It is commendable that FGLI has come up and launched an excellent product in this category. Future Generali Cancer Protect Plan is the most economical, and also the simplest cancer insurance plan to be made available in the market today.”