With one in three people diagnosed with some form of cancer during their life time, it's no surprise that over half of Britons today name cancer as their major health worry.
Add to this the growing uncertainty over access to some of the latest cancer drugs on the NHS, and many people are choosing health insurance as a way to put their minds at rest should they become ill.
Not all private medical insurers fund treatment for every stage of cancer and Bupa warns people to check the small print of their policies so they are not let down when they come to claim. Some stipulate time or pre-set monetary limits on funding for cancer drugs, while others offer varying levels of cover.
Cancer charities are also advising consumers to be aware of the detail in the range of private health insurance options available. In a recent survey of people with health insurance, published by Beating Bowel Cancer, Bupa was named as the most trusted health insurer for cancer cover.
Hilary Whittaker, chief executive at Beating Bowel Cancer, says: "It is important that people make sure they check their cancer cover, so that if they come to claim, they are not let down at what will already be a difficult time. If you are not sure what level of cover you have, call your insurance company directly or speak with your financial adviser."
Dr. Rebecca Small, for Bupa, says: "We believe a policy should give people access to treatment at every stage of their cancer. Our customers trust us to also give them access to high-quality cancer care through our approved network of specialist treatment centres for breast, bowel and gynaecological cancers. It is about the right cancer treatment, at the right time, in the right place and is ultimately about giving patients the best possible chance."
Bupa will routinely fund drugs such as sunitinib (Sutent), temsirolimus (Torisel), bevacizumab (Avastin) and sorafenib (Nexavar) for patients with advanced kidney cancer, and many others that are not widely available on the NHS. Additionally, by undertaking rigorous evidence-based evaluation of new treatments, Bupa customers have received funding for cancer drugs such as trastuzamab (Herceptin) for early stage breast cancer months before NHS patients were eligible.
Private medical insurance: News update: August 2008