The Delicate Issue Of Cancer Cover & Group PMI

In Employee Benefits, Group Income Protection, Healthcare by Tom Pullinger

Cancer survival rates are higher than ever, having doubled in the last 40 years, according to Cancer Research UK. In fact, the charity says 50% of people diagnosed with cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for 10 years or more (2010-11).

One of the main reasons why cancer survival rates have improved so significantly is because of the new drugs and therapies that have emerged in recent times. While it used to be the case that cancer treatment was often limited to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, we have now seen a move to targeted treatment – which involves the use of drugs to target the cancer directly and not damage healthy cells – and immunotherapy – which works by strengthening the patient’s immune system.

However, with price tags sometimes stretching to six-figures, these treatments can put enormous strain on all-inclusive Group Private Medical Insurance policies. Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy (a form of immunotherapy), for example, can result in an insurance claim of up to £500,000.

As a result, some employers have seen their premiums increase by as much as 100% because of a large cancer claim, which can put all-inclusive group risk schemes in danger of being discontinued. Indeed, just one large claim could raise premiums enough to shut a corporate scheme down completely.

But the desire to offer all-inclusive group risk schemes is understandable when you consider just how much of a positive impact new cancer drugs, treatments and therapies can have on people’s lives. Therefore, by offering such schemes, employers stand to attract the best talent and highlight how highly they think of their employees.

In fact, removing cancer cover from a group PMI scheme is likely to lead to a significant drop in morale – especially when you consider the often mixed messages we hear about cancer treatment on the NHS. The bottom line is not only do employees really value cancer cover as a benefit, but the fact that it allows individuals to gain access to innovative cancer treatments in a timely fashion means it also benefits the business as employees inevitably return to work sooner.

[Related reading: Number Of Patients Waiting For Elective Treatment On The NHS Has Risen 4.6% In A Year]

One option for employers to continue to provide cancer cover could be to push some of the cost on to their employees. By offering a scheme that excluded cancer cover but had an option where employees could top-up their policy if they wanted to, employers could offset the risk of their premiums skyrocketing further down the line.

If you’re an employer who currently offers cancer cover as part of a group risk scheme, but is reconsidering whether to do so going forward, or you’re an employer that would like to offer cancer cover in the future but isn’t sure what it entails, we can help…

Contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and provide bespoke advice for your situation.

A highly motivated result’s driven individual with a wealth of experience in the Healthcare & Group Risk market. I have established strong relationships with large multinational clients through excellent interpersonal skills. I have advanced listening, negotiating & influencing skills that allow me succeed in a team based environment. I have comprehensive knowledge of the UK Healthcare & Group Risk market. This knowledge has been obtained through the Chartered Insurance Institute & self study.