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What Has Worked for Others?


Learning through other's experiences

Bill's Experience

With treatments over, clinic visits less frequent, and pill management less confusing, cancer survivors prepare to move forward with their lives. The focus now becomes integrating back into society and the world of the healthy. However, in the eyes of the insurance industry, the reward for surviving cancer is a lifetime membership in the "High Risk Club". Trying to find an insurance provider to issue a policy in your name is now a battle. It can become especially challenging for survivors of a childhood cancer. As young adults, they will venture out into the world alone, and there will come a point where they can no longer be covered by their parents policy.

A cancer survivor myself, I was fortunate enough to obtain coverage through my employer. My insurance plan now covers both my wife and me. But not everyone is as fortunate and there was a time when I was not. Facing graduation from college, I was about to receive my degree, but also lose my coverage. This is where ICHIP (Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan) entered the picture.

ICHIP is a state mandated risk pool. Risk pools exist in many states and are created by state legislation. The purpose of a risk pool is to provide coverage for those individuals who, otherwise, would not be able to get coverage, due to a preexisting condition or other health reason. They serve not only cancer patients, but other illnesses and conditions as well. To be eligible, you must be a resident in the state that offers the program.

With many risk pools, you may find yourself facing up to a one year waiting period for preexisting conditions. Once accepted though, benefits to policy holders are virtually equal. Many offer lifetime maximum benefits ranging from $500,000 to $1,000,000 including a choice of deductibles.

Be warned however; risk pools are not for everyone. The cost can run significantly higher than comparable policies. And because of the cost, risk pools may not be a viable option for all cancer survivors.

Despite a clean bill of health, and living cancer free for over 10 years, the eyes of the insurance world still view me as "High Risk", a liability. Risk pools helped me in a time of need. It may be an option for you as well. Please contact your insurance agent or state department of insurance to see if your state offers a risk pool program.

Diagnosed at 16
Now 27

Information and data taken from:
Nessim, Susan, and Judith Ellis. Cancervive Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991.

Patti's Experience

Fortunately, I was able to stay on my parent's insurance while in school. I finished high school then went on to a year in college when my husband and I got married. Again, fortunately, his insurance through work had to take me on, including pre-existing conditions. We didn't have any problems when applying for life insurance. We had to pay a higher premium for five years. With a clean bill of health after five years, the premium dropped to a normal rate.

Endo dermal sinus tumor
Diagnosed at 16
Now 34

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