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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Over 10 Million Americans Are Uninsurable Cancer Survivors

Do you take health insurance coverage for granted ?

The table above lets you see the soaring numbers of annual US deaths from cancer. The data is taken from the American Cancer Society’s 2009 compilation of cancer statistics. It often costs a staggering amount of money to die peacefully of cancer. Dying in pain is not so expensive.

So, what are are the odd of developing cancer, and what are the consequences for obtaining health insurance ? As to insurance, developing cancer renders you instantly uninsurable for health insurance as an individual. Want proof ? See, for example, this Blue Cross Summer 2009 application takers manual from Florida. (go to page 62 of the manual to start reading the medical underwriting guidelines that specify the over 100 diseases that bar an individual from purchasing individual health insurance; for tumors, go to page 90).

The odds on developing cancer ? The ACS’ detailed on line data for people in the US shows that 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer during a lifetime. The odds are 1 in 3 for women. Go here to download ACS’s 2009 date , or go here to view an already downloaded copy; see page 19 for men, and page 20 for women. )

But those are mainly smokers, right? No, that myth is way out of date. In older populations, there are about 1/3 lung cancers, but it’s a different story for new cancers. The ACS’ data includes tables showing the locations for the 1.5 million new cancers in the US in 2009 (yes, really, 1. 5 million new cancers in a just a year in just the US). Of the new cancers in 2009, less than 15% will be lung cancers, and as any tort lawyer knows, some lung cancers are not caused by smoking.

How many people in the US are cancer survivors and are uninsurable as individuals ? Of course, we can’t say for sure, but the best data indicates that between 10 and 15 million Americans are cancer survivors, as shown by the data below. Most, if not all of them, can never purchase individual health insurance, as shown by the Blue Cross application manual linked above.

So, those are the realities. How can a legislator in our country in good conscious choose to say "no" to making health insurance available for these 10-15 million persons who are cancer survivors? Please, pick up the phone and ask your elected representatives to make sure that – at least – legislation is passed to stop insurers from excluding coverage for persons with pre-existing conditions.

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