TONY SINGLETONGap Cover: a vital asset in the fight against cancer

In times gone by, we tended to associate cancer with older people. But today, it seems the disease is rising in prevalence, attacking people of all ages.

Cancer comes without warning and can have devastating consequences. In the worst cases, terminal cancer tears families apart. At the very least, fighting cancer can come at a massive financial cost.

And there is so much to watch out for. Among South African men, prostate cancer is the most prevalent form of the disease, followed by lung, oesophagus, colon and bladder cancer. In women, the most common form is breast cancer, followed by cervical, uterus, colorectal and oesophageal cancer.

As a broker, the question to ask is whether you’ve fully protected your clients against the risk of cancer. Will they truly be able to ‘afford’ a cancer diagnosis? How will cancer affect their family’s financial security?

It’s worth considering, for a moment, the following key trends:

  • Cancer is on the rise, with terrifying predictions that we’ll see even greater prevalence of the disease over the coming years
  • A number of Medical Schemes have limited the increase of the monetary value of their cancer cover over the past few years
  • The increased prevalence of cancer is putting an immense strain on our oncology professionals in the public healthcare sector
  • You need to review your dread disease benefits in order to assess at what stage payments will  become available to assist in the fight against cancer

All of these trends bring us to the importance of quality, comprehensive Gap Cover, as a vital part of your clients’ risk management portfolios.

So, just how does Gap Cover bridge the ever-growing chasm, between what oncologists and hospitals charge, and what Medical Aid schemes are willing to pay?


From the moment that cancer is first suspected, patients generally need the likes of PET scans and MRI scans. Most Medical Aids now impose co-payments and sub-limits on these, and other tests to determine if the patient does indeed have cancer.

Higher-end Gap Cover policies step into the void, covering patients for co-payments and sub-limits, and in some cases (comprehensive Gap Cover policies, such as the Turnberry Premier product) they also provide a lump-sum cash benefit to those diagnosed with cancer for the first time.


While we tend to think of the likes of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and biological cancer drugs, the treatment for certain types of cancers can include a much broader range of procedures (including scans, surgeries, reconstructions and more).

Gap Cover becomes an essential weapon in the fight against cancer, by covering many of these claims that extend beyond the reach of what Medical Aids are able to pay.

On the positive side, cancer attracts a huge amount of investment and research, resulting in the development of a new generation of biological cancer drugs. In contrast to ‘traditional’ cancer treatments, these drugs are able to target the affected cells with far greater force and accuracy, reducing the impact on the rest of the body.

To ensure they can access these courses of treatment, your client’s Gap Cover provider should stipulate cover for biological cancer drugs.


As patients complete their treatment, it’s hoped that they enter a stage of remission and begin to recover from the physical and emotional strain of their ordeal. Of course, being at high risk of cancer returning means a number of scans – where Gap Cover can continue to play an important role.

In those unfortunate cases where cancer returns, treatments may need to be re-started or adjusted. When we consider that some treatments can run into the hundreds of thousands of rand, it’s worth asking that question again:

Can your clients really afford a cancer diagnosis?