Accident & Health Insurance

What Is Cancer Insurance and What Is It Used For?

3 min read Mar 09, 2023

After a cancer diagnosis, the last thing you or your family needs is to be stressed about finances. The out-of-pocket expenses associated with cancer recovery can add up quickly. And many health insurance plans don’t cover all the treatment costs of a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer insurance can help alleviate some of the financial burdens that come with a cancer diagnosis, while giving you or a loved one more time to focus on recovery. Learn more about cancer insurance, including how it works, what it covers, and how it may benefit you.

How do cancer insurance policies typically work?

Cancer insurance is a type of supplemental insurance that’s used to offset the costs of cancer treatments. Benefits are paid directly to you rather than going through a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider. It can help reduce some of the out-of-pocket costs that come with recovery.1

There are typically three types of cancer insurance plans:

  • An expense-incurred policy: This type of plan pays for a percentage of treatment costs up to a specified limit identified in the policy.
  • An indemnity policy: This pays a fixed amount for each covered treatment identified in your policy.
  • A lump-sum cash benefit policy: This type of policy pays a predetermined cash benefit, which can be used for direct and indirect medical expenses.

Some cancer insurance policies require a waiting period before benefits kick in. Check with your provider to find out if they have a waiting period and how long it’s for.

What does cancer insurance cover?

Depending on the provider and their policies, cancer insurance coverage will vary. Some cancer insurance products may provide coverage for both medical and non-medical expenses. Here are some of the costs cancer insurance often can be used toward:

  • Radiation/chemotherapy
  • Lab tests
  • Hospital stays
  • Co-pays
  • Deductibles
  • Surgery
  • Transportation and lodging
  • Child care
  • Household bills
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Experimental treatments
  • Prescription medications
  • X-rays
  • Blood transfusions

Keep in mind that some policies restrict what types of cancer they cover and certain providers won’t offer coverage if you were diagnosed with cancer before applying for the policy or had cancer in the past. Read your policy carefully to determine what is and isn’t covered.

Is cancer insurance worth it?

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, having the added support of supplemental cancer insurance could make it easier to focus on your health and recovery. Ultimately, the decision to get cancer insurance comes down to your unique circumstances.

Here are some reasons you might want to consider purchasing cancer insurance:

  • You have a history of cancer in your family: If members of your family have had cancer, your risk of developing the disease may be elevated.2 When there’s a family history, cancer insurance can provide added financial peace of mind.
  • You have a high-deductible health plan: If your health plan comes with steep out-of-pocket costs due to a high deductible, cancer insurance can help cover those costs with a lump-sum benefit.
  • Cancer diagnoses are common: According to Cancer Treatments of America, one in two men and one in three women in the United States are at risk of developing cancer during their lifetime.3

A cancer diagnosis can happen to anyone — no matter your age, health, or family history. So planning for the unexpected may better protect you for the future. In addition to cancer insurance, you might also want to assess the advantages of other supplemental health plans, like critical illness insurance and disability insurance.

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1 “How to Decide If Cancer Insurance Is Worth the Cost” VeryWell Health, 2020

2 “Family Health History and Cancer” CDC, 2022

3 “Men and Cancer.” Cancer Treatment Centers of America. April 21, 2022.

This article is intended to provide general information about insurance. It does not describe any Metropolitan Life Insurance company product or feature.