Breast Cancer & Liver Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Liver Cancer: A Global Epidemic
March 16, 2007
A History of Alternative Cancer Cures
March 16, 2007
Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
What is a Proton?
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Web Exclusive: The Biology of Cancer and Aging
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Web Exclusive: Can Liver Cancer Be Found Early?
March 16, 2007 – The American Cancer Society
Web Exclusive: Protection from Health Fraud
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help for the Older Patient
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The Emotional Toll
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Dangerous Exposure
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
An Integrative Plan
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
Medical Miracle or Spontaneous Remission?
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Resources: Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Clearing the Five-Year Insurance Hurdle
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Making Lemons into Champagne
March 16, 2007 – Kathy LaTour
Heart Health for Childhood Cancer Patients
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
Targeted Strike
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The National Cancer Institute's CAM Agenda
March 16, 2007 – Jeffrey D. White, MD
Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient
March 16, 2007 – The American Cancer Society
What Really Helps
March 16, 2007 – Lori Hope
The Age Factor
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Men Behaving Boldly
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Liver Cancer: More Cases, More Causes
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
Report Incites Controversy After Breast Cancer Decline Linked to HRT Use
March 16, 2007 – Emma Johnson
Prescription for Trouble
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
What Five Years Really Means
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Hazardous to Your Heart
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
The Weight Gain Mystery
March 16, 2007 – Noble Sprayberry
Deadly Accuracy
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Surfer Wisdom
March 16, 2007 – Mark Lawless
Letters from Our Readers
March 16, 2007
Message from the Editor
March 16, 2007 – Melissa Weber
Having a Ball
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You To Know
March 16, 2007 – Kathy LaTour
www.komen.org
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Stowe, Vermont
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Survivors at Risk for Cognitive Dysfunction
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Q&A: Functional Imaging
March 16, 2007 – Anna D. Barker, PhD
Evista vs. Femara in Breast Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
New Role for Dempsey; Rest in Peace, Molly
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Patient Congress
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The HPV Debate
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Breast Cancer & Liver Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Liver Cancer: A Global Epidemic
March 16, 2007
A History of Alternative Cancer Cures
March 16, 2007
Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
What is a Proton?
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Web Exclusive: The Biology of Cancer and Aging
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Web Exclusive: Can Liver Cancer Be Found Early?
March 16, 2007 – The American Cancer Society
Web Exclusive: Protection from Health Fraud
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help for the Older Patient
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The Emotional Toll
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Dangerous Exposure
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
An Integrative Plan
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
Medical Miracle or Spontaneous Remission?
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Resources: Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Currently Viewing
Clearing the Five-Year Insurance Hurdle
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Heart Health for Childhood Cancer Patients
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
Targeted Strike
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The National Cancer Institute's CAM Agenda
March 16, 2007 – Jeffrey D. White, MD
Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient
March 16, 2007 – The American Cancer Society
What Really Helps
March 16, 2007 – Lori Hope
The Age Factor
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Men Behaving Boldly
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Liver Cancer: More Cases, More Causes
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
Report Incites Controversy After Breast Cancer Decline Linked to HRT Use
March 16, 2007 – Emma Johnson
Prescription for Trouble
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
What Five Years Really Means
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Hazardous to Your Heart
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
The Weight Gain Mystery
March 16, 2007 – Noble Sprayberry
Deadly Accuracy
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Surfer Wisdom
March 16, 2007 – Mark Lawless
Letters from Our Readers
March 16, 2007
Message from the Editor
March 16, 2007 – Melissa Weber
Having a Ball
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You To Know
March 16, 2007 – Kathy LaTour
www.komen.org
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Stowe, Vermont
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Survivors at Risk for Cognitive Dysfunction
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Q&A: Functional Imaging
March 16, 2007 – Anna D. Barker, PhD
Evista vs. Femara in Breast Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
New Role for Dempsey; Rest in Peace, Molly
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Patient Congress
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The HPV Debate
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington

Clearing the Five-Year Insurance Hurdle

The challenges of finding accessible health insurance as a recent cancer survivor

BY Curtis Pesmen
PUBLISHED March 16, 2007

For countless survivors, the countdown to five years of disease-free checkups carries with a huge and often unresolved issue: health insurance for the future. 

Those who may have been afraid to leave jobs, move to new locales or test the waters of a new career after cancer treatment often falsely believe that come five years they’ll be able to cast aside doubts about their health status and start anew, with new health insurance options. Unfortunately, things are tough if you don’t belong to a group health insurance plan.

Much of what you will find depends on the state where you live, says Karen Pollitz, project director at the Georgetown University Institute for Health Care Research and Policy, and a breast cancer survivor herself. Pollitz says currently, only two states, New York and New Jersey, guarantee individuals access to health insurance despite a cancer history.

“If you are within five years, [the top health insurance firms] just won’t sell to you,” she says. “Once you reach five years, only some companies will consider selling you a policy. Others won’t issue a policy until you have been cancer-free 10 or 15 years.”

Echoing these concerns, Barbara Brett, executive director of the CoverColorado statewide insurance plan, says, “I get people who have been declined individual health policies due to acne, allergy, asthma and other conditions like these. I would say cancer in anybody’s history is going to preclude them from the individual [health insurance] market.” In many cases, survivors who apply for individual (not employer-provided) health insurance face the prospects of medical underwriting, in which medical history is open to review.

A safety net has been set up by most states—32 in all—for consumers who have been turned down time and again. These high-risk insurance pools, which include CoverColorado, are run by the state with varying degrees of coverage and wide-ranging costs. High-risk pools typically carry premiums 25 to 50 percent higher than comparable private insurance plans, Pollitz says, in order to cover the most serious conditions, including AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and others, that have expensive treatments.

In fact, high-risk pools are often last-resort policies (even as some, like those in Illinois and Florida, have limited openings because of state budget cuts). As with other cancer survival statistics, whether or not you qualify depends on your particular case, and your state of residence.

“If you applied 100,000 cancer survivors [in the open market], 50,000 to 75,000 would be declined,” no matter how many years they’ve survived, says Brett. That’s why state programs like CoverColorado were created—to serve those with pre-existing and what brokers call “presumptive” conditions, meaning those presumed to preclude survivors from obtaining coverage on their own.

To answer questions about health insurance access, Pollitz and colleagues at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation compiled a report entitled, “How Accessible Is Individual Health Insurance for Consumers in Less-than-Perfect Health?” The report states that some insurers will sell five-year survivor insurance, but with a higher premium (sometimes 50 percent higher) or a special rider that will exclude coverage of certain cancers, or even exclude medical coverage on certain body parts, such as the breasts or lungs.

Grounded in the real world of long-term survivorship, the report can be accessed at www.kff.org. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (www.canceradvocacy.org) provides additional information on insurance and other financial issues. 

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