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Nearly 1.7 million Americans were expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2014.1 For many, a cancer diagnosis is a devastating financial blow, even if they’re already covered by major medical insurance. In fact, a study by Duke University Medical Center found that the average monthly out-of-pocket cost for an American insured privately, through Medicare or through both is $1,266. Most of the uncovered expenses – 41 percent – come from prescription drugs, but medical equipment, travel, special diets and non-prescription drugs are also factors.2

For these reasons and more, voluntary cancer insurance is becoming increasingly important in helping consumers combat the high costs of cancer – and to focus less on finances and more on treatment and recovery.

What is voluntary cancer insurance?

Voluntary cancer insurance is one of many policies available to help people cope with the high out-of-pocket costs associated with serious illnesses — costs major medical insurance were never intended to cover. In the event of a cancer diagnosis, policyholders enrolled in voluntary plans receive cash benefits that can be used as they see fit. Sometimes they’re used to help pay copayments and deductibles. Other times, they go toward daily living expenses, such as rent, gas, groceries, babysitting and other necessities.

A supplemental cancer insurance policy can also help protect income and savings from expenses that aren’t covered by major medical insurance, including experimental cancer treatments, out-of-network specialists and more.

Who needs voluntary cancer insurance?

When you consider that men and women in the U.S. have a 40 percent chance of developing cancer in their lifetimes – and nearly 14 million Americans are living with cancer – voluntary cancer insurance is an option everyone should consider.3 However, for people who have a family history of cancer or are at higher-than-average risk, supplemental cancer insurance is even more important.

Furthermore, consumers who have been unable to build robust savings should seriously consider applying for voluntary cancer insurance. The treatment and recovery process can result in lost wages and other unforeseen expenses that are difficult to handle. For example, some cancer drugs alone can cost $10,000 a month.4

Why do I need cancer insurance?

Sandra’s story

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2007.

Although I had been having yearly mammograms for 25 years, the mammograms did not detect the cancer; I did. It was already locally advanced, having spread to 10 of 14 lymph nodes and with a mass over an inch large in the left breast.

Treatment included a mastectomy, sixteen weeks of chemotherapy and 36 daily radiation treatments. The treatment center is a three-hour distance from my home over snow-packed and icy roads in the winter and spring.

While my health insurance covered most of the medical costs after the out-of-pocket expense, it didn’t help me with my living expenses.

Without Aflac's help, I would never have been able to keep up with my basic living expenses. I had to take eight weeks off work, move to Salt Lake City, rent an apartment there and still maintain my monthly mortgage and utility payments at home.

Without Aflac, I don't know what I would have done.

Financial barriers can delay treatment, and for a condition as serious as cancer any delay can mean the difference between life and death. Families affected by cancer shouldn’t have to make the difficult decision between medical treatment and making ends meet. Unfortunately, that is the conundrum for a growing number of consumers who face high out-of-pocket expenses, despite having comprehensive major medical insurance.

In addition, major medical insurance comes with annual and lifetime benefit caps, particularly in the non-group insurance market.

Voluntary cancer insurance policies can help with the treatment costs of cancer, but more importantly will also help patients focus on getting well instead of on medical and personal bills.

No one wants to think about cancer, but it is necessary to consider how you would manage if you were diagnosed and unable to work. A voluntary cancer insurance policy could help make a difference to your well-being, your family and your future.

To learn more about how voluntary cancer insurance plans can benefit your family, visit