April is National Cancer Awareness month, and this coming Saturday is Daffodil Day 2013. It’s a time for everyone to reflect on the thousands of Canadians living with cancer right now and the many more that have died from the disease. Getting sick with cancer has an enormous emotional and physical effect on the person who is ill and their family – but there’s also a tremendous financial impact on both the individual and the overall economy.
Loss of Income
One of the direct impacts of cancer is the loss of income. Eighty per cent of breast cancer sufferers reported financial loss because of their disease in a study by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN). Patients often face long treatment times and lengthy hospital stays and are forced to take unpaid days from work or sometimes even quit in order to have time to fight the disease. In the study, those living with breast cancer reported a loss of $12,000 on average a year sine they were diagnosed. That represents up to 10 per cent of a family’s household income.
A Healthcare Shortage
The financial impact of missing work because of illness is amplified if a person is self-employed or in a contract job where they may not have access to healthcare coverage. Contrary to what most think, public health services in Canada do not pay for all costs associated with cancer. Many of the costs of treatment must be paid for by the patient, including drugs, medical supplies and prosthetics.
Living In A Remote Area
If the patient doesn’t live in a large urban centre, it can be costly to go back and forth to get required treatment. It may also cost more if you have to stay overnight to attend an early appointment or meet with a specialist. These extra costs have to be covered by the patient and are necessary if they are gong to get the best care available. This can also mean a loss of income from anyone accompanying a patient to the appointment out of town.
How to Prepare
Nobody wants to think about getting sick with cancer, but it’s worth preparing financially in the case of any long term illness, especially if you have children or other dependents. Long-term illness protection can be an effective way to ensure your and your dependents will be secure financially in case the breadwinner falls sick for an extended period of time. Before buying any insurance, though, make sure you understand thoroughly its limitations (and what circumstances may void the coverage).
Setting aside a six-month emergency savings fund is another way to protect yourself if you need to take extended time off work without pay.
Celebrate Daffodil Day
This Saturday, Canadians are encouraged to do something special for those living with cancer or to contribute in some way to the fight against this disease. This could be as simple as telling your loved one suffering with cancer that you are thinking of them or making a meal for them. You can go a step further by contacting you local politicians to tell them how important it is to recognize those suffering with cancer and the emotional and financial help they need. To learn more about this initiative, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.