The burden of cancer can come in many shapes and sizes – not least the often unexpected financial impact of the disease. Whether newly diagnosed or facing end-of-life, it’s worth knowing what help is out there to help reduce unnecessary stress.
We hear from people with varying stages of cancer struggling to keep up with the out of pocket costs associated with treatment, travel to treatment or medication. There can also be lost income due to time taken off work while undergoing treatment, and this can extend to family members needing to take time off as well.
The financial impact of cancer means that patients and their families often look for additional sources of funds, and for many, making an insurance claim is the obvious option to access much needed funds.
However at a time when there can be emotional stress, and the main focus is attending medical appointments, dealing with the complicated policies and small print that companies throw their way can leave many patients and their carers thinking, “where do I even start?”
Claiming insurance can be a complex beast. There are different types of insurance which cancer patients may be able to apply for depending on their individual circumstances – you may be familiar with trauma insurance, income protection, total and permanent disability (TPD) or life insurance.
Many people can be covered by insurance policies without even knowing it, as often super funds include life insurance as default. Some patients might not even be clear on what insurance policy they have. Add into the mix that some people can have two different types of insurance with two different insurers and things can start getting very complicated.
And the paperwork! We hear time and again that the paperwork associated with accessing insurance can be difficult and confusing to understand. We know too that insurance companies may not always be the first to lend a helping hand to fill these out properly. It can be even more complicated if the insurance is attached to a super fund, as it can be difficult for people trying to make a claim to navigate between the super fund and the insurance company.
That’s where we come in. Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program puts cancer patients in touch with professionals who volunteer their time to assist with legal and financial matters which arise as a result of a diagnosis. We connect eligible people affected by cancer to lawyers, financial advisers, accountants and HR professionals. They can help patients make claims on insurance, access superannuation early and appeal a decision if a claim has been rejected.
In the five years since we launched the program, over 60% of calls have been from patients or their families looking for assistance with financial matters, including looking to access super and attached insurance. Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program has assisted over 3,000 people with a terminal cancer diagnosis with accessing super and insurance since 2010.
All Cancer Council Pro Bono services are means tested. If you have been affected by cancer and are in financial distress, or wish to learn more about these services, give Cancer Council a call on 13 11 20 to see how we can help.