Cancer patients let down by insurers

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cancer sufferers are having their private health insurance withdrawn for vital follow-up treatment.

Cancer sufferers are having their private health insurance withdrawn for vital follow-up treatment.

A survey of private health insurers by the charity Cancer-Bacup found that only one of eight leading insurers, Bupa, provided cover throughout the course of the patient's illness. The rest provided limited cover, often restricting it to the "active phase" of treatment and refusing to pay for follow-up appointments.

Denise Barnett, 58, who developed breast cancer six years ago, has paid £3,500 over the past five years for check-ups. Lloyds TSB, which had provided medical cover for her and her family for 12 years, would not pay for tests and consultations following her initial treatment.

She had believed that having private medical insurance meant she would be guaranteed the best possible treatment for her cancer. "I was devastated," she said. "They paid for the surgery, reconstruction, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. But then they told me they would not pay for any more tests or check-ups.

"They told me it was a chronic condition and I was no longer covered. What they implied was that I had something incurable like diabetes."

She chose to pay rather than go to the NHS in order to stay with the same consultant and is now covered by Bupa.

CancerBacup found sales staff for private health insurers mislead callers about the extent of cover they provided and is calling on the Financial Services Authority to review the selling of private medical insurance when it takes over responsibility for the sector next year.

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