Cancer insurance questions ‘must end for survivors’

UK News
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Cancer survivors should not have to declare their former diagnosis to insurance firms years after going into complete remission, a campaign group has told the BBC.

Youth Cancer Europe said this elevated prices, with one man quoted £3,000 for insurance for two weeks in Australia.

Tory and Labour MPs called for the “discrimination” to end.

The Association of British Insurers said it was speaking with cancer charities and consumer groups.

Image caption Seren Hughes says the current situation is “completely unfair”

Youth Cancer Europe told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme those given the all-clear from cancer still face a “lifetime penalty” of expensive travel insurance.

“To put it in perspective, convicted persons in the European Union have their criminal record expired within several years after serving the sentence,” it said.

“Cancer survivors, on the other hand, must declare their cancer history throughout their life and continue to suffer discrimination.”

The group wants the UK government to implement a similar system to France, where cancer survivors no longer have to inform insurers or loan agencies about their diagnosis after a period of 10 years after their treatment has ended – or five years for anyone who was under 18 when they had treatment.

Twenty-three-year-old Seren Hughes, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, said the current situation was “completely unfair”, having been charged more for travel insurance than her flights during a recent trip to Brussels.

“I’ve had the all-clear for three years and have just recently run a marathon, but I’m seen as a massive risk.

“Cancer impacts your life enough, never mind not being able to get insurance to go to a family wedding.”

Youth Cancer Europe said one 22-year-old man had been quoted £3,000 for insurance for a two-week holiday to Australia, three years after being told he was cancer-free. He decided to travel without insurance.

‘Glaring injustice’

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on the cross-party Health and Social Care Committee, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: “this would appear to be a glaring injustice”, with those affected “facing unjustified discrimination”.

“This situation could become much more serious in March next year if there is a hard or no-deal Brexit,” he added, “as the European Health Insurance Card would become invalid and UK visitors to the continent would also need to take out health insurance”.

He said for cancer survivors this “could be prohibitively expensive”.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard added that “discrimination against cancer sufferers needs to end.

“This needs to be led by the insurance industry, who might be guilty of exploiting those who are seriously ill. I hope ministers will intervene and demand answers.”

SNP MP Lisa Cameron said: “We must redress this insurance injustice.

“If medical opinion says they have the all-clear, insurance companies cannot simply ignore it and charge astronomical fees.”

The Association of British Insurers said: “This is an important issue and we are already working with the regulator, the wider industry and consumer bodies on how to improve the customer experience for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

“We also want to continue our dialogue with cancer charities on these issues and work with them to help improve access to insurance.”

Watch the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 BST on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel in the UK and on iPlayer afterwards.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45968505

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