The Financial Cost of Cancer: 3 Ways To Be More Prepared


For Part 2 of National Cancer Month, I wanted to focus on the financial cost of dealing with cancer. Why? Because it’s a subject that is rarely discussed, even though 1 in every 2 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer! With the rising costs of specialty drugs, would you have the money you need to get the care you deserve?

Fact: Cancer accounts for 30% of all deaths in Canada each year. In 2016 there were 202,400 new cases diagnosed, and 78,800 deaths. That means every day last year 550 people were told they have cancer, and each day 215 Canadians died from it.

Fact: Research shows that 90% of people living with cancer suffer from the financial impact due to their diagnoses. Whether it’s over $3 billion annually in lost wages, or the $100,000 specialty drugs, or the recurring $25 hospital parking fees- there are many expenses associated with cancer that patients and their families suddenly have to pay for once diagnosed.

In a video interview for the Globe and Mail, Pamela Bowes, manager of program development at WellSpring Cancer Support Network said “The biggest myth about cancer is that people think ‘if I’m diagnosed with cancer, everything just falls into place. The money is there, the services are there and the costs are not going to be felt by me’, but that is not true.”

Fact: More than 50% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer today live five or more years after their initial diagnoses. However, their lives are very different than before. What many people don’t realize is that especially when it comes to cancer medications-and particularly in Ontario- our government does not cover a lot of these costs.

3 Tips To Protect Your Finances and Get the Medical Care You Need

The best way to protect your finances is through insurance. But it’s important to get the right kind of coverage, since there are many different insurance products on the market today. Of course it also depends on your personal and financial situation but start by checking out these options first:

  1. Get Catastrophic Drug Coverage: This very specific medical plan covers prescription medications, hospital and some nursing expenses. It does not cover pre-existing conditions and usually comes with a deductible, which makes this coverage extremely inexpensive, but very important with the high cost drugs that are on the market right now.
  1. Apply for Critical Illness or Cancer Insurance: Critical Illness insurance pays out a lump sum of money if diagnosed with one of 25 covered conditions. Since cancer claims account for 78% of all critical illness claims, and for those people who are hard to insure, Cancer Insurance was introduced. Since many cancer patients either can’t work for extended periods or need additional money for medical expenses, both of these types of coverage provides much needed cash flow during one’s illness.
  1. Check into Global Healthcare Coverage: This is a relatively new type of health plan, which provides you with access to over 50,000 medical specialists worldwide, as well as cutting edge technology and procedures. One of the biggest complaints Canadians have about our medical system is the long wait times, which for cancer patients can mean the difference between life and death. Securing Global Healthcare Coverage allows you timely medical care with the world specialist in every field (not just for cancer!).

You may think insurance is expensive but what you may not realize is that getting sick is what is really expensive– having no income, paying for high cost specialty drugs- those are the expenses that impact your finances and add stress at a time when you need to focus on your recovery.

Want to find out more about your options? Contact me for your complimentary 30 minutes Healthcare Strategy Session today.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010. You can reach her at or 416-545-5310. 
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