This is the time of year when most people are full of the joys of the season and are happy taking time out to relax with their families. But what if you’ve just been given the most devastating news ever – you have cancer. And even worse, the waiting list just to even see an oncologist is so long it means you won’t get an appointment until way after Christmas, let alone start any treatment. That would be unimaginably stressful for you and your family. If you’ve just been given this dreadful diagnosis, your whole world would stop whilst waiting for treatment, all other priorities would likely go out the window. Picture that going on for months.
Hospitals struggling to cope
A recent NZ Herald article has highlighted the fact that cancer rates have risen enormously over the past decade due to an aging population. Recent Ministry of Health figures show that the number of people diagnosed with cancer each year increased by 4247 between 2005 and 2014, to a total of 23,023. Unsurprisingly, public hospitals are struggling to cope with the extra load, with only 81.4% of cancer patients between April and June receiving their first treatment within 62 days of being referred to a specialist, according to the ministry.
As we all know, the difference between early detection/early treatment of cancer or leaving it too long, can literally mean the difference between life or death. Luckily, there are many more treatments available to cancer patients these days due to great medical advances, but this is of little comfort to those patients who have died whilst stuck on a waiting list. Pharmac has been given extra funding for drugs, but there has been no added funding for doctors and nurses to deliver the treatments, placing extra strain on oncologists to juggle their ever-growing list of patients.
Private cover vital
If you’re the one sitting in the doctor’s office as he or she delivers the terrible news, when they ask, “do you have medical insurance?”, for the best fighting chance, you really need that answer to be yes. Having private medical cover could give you many more treatment options and reduce wait times dramatically for you or your family.
However, not all insurance policies are created equal. It’s very important to check all that fine print and ensure that you have a policy in place with a company that covers a variety of non-Pharmac-funded drugs. If you are unsure of your policy details and would an expert to check this out for you, please contact us, because having non-Pharmac-funded drugs available could give you far more options at claim time, with much less stressful waiting around.
If you’re unsure as to whether you really need to bother with decent private medical cover at all, just close your eyes and try to imagine what waiting 62 days for cancer treatment feels like.
Sadly, left unchecked, cancer only grows bigger, not smaller.