AIA Cancer Care announced, and more daily news

AIA has announced the introduction of AIA Cancer Care. AIA highlights that the Ministry of Health reported that 23,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer each year. AIA is offering customers the option of purchasing AIA Cancer Care. AIA Cancer Care will cover the medical expenses relating to diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Benefits of AIA Cancer Care include unlimited cancer surgical benefit, access to specialist consultations, diagnostic tests and Pharmac as well as non-Pharmac Medsafe indicated cancer chemotherapy drugs. Customers with eligible policies will be able to join AIA Vitality and earn Airpoints from premiums paid.

Key benefits include:

  • $500,000 extensive cover for cancer treatment and recovery
  • Access to Pharmac and non-Pharmac Medsafe indicated cancer chemotherapy drugs
  • Options to have treatments overseas

“In New Zealand 23,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year1. While this is an alarming statistic, many cancers can be successfully treated if diagnosed early. In the unfortunate event that you’re diagnosed with cancer, having more choice and control over your treatment plan can make your journey to recovery much easier.

AIA Cancer Care will take care of medical expenses associated with the diagnosis, treatment and recovery of cancer. This includes access to an unlimited cancer surgical benefit, access to specialist consultations, diagnostic tests and Pharmac and non-Pharmac Medsafe indicated cancer chemotherapy drugs.​

With eligible policies you also get the added benefit of earning Airpoints Dollars™ for premiums paid, and have the opportunity to join AIA Vitality, a science-backed health and wellbeing program that rewards your healthy choices.” Click here to read more

AIA Cancer Care 11 Feb 2021 2

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The battle against cancer: what has worked and what remains to be done

Stephen Dubner, and economist, talks with Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute (USA) about cancer research and how to fix the incentives to achieve better outcomes. The podcast includes a great discussion about what progress has been made, recent breakthroughs, and the big gaps in treatment development along the way. At this link: https://freakonomics.com/podcast/cancer/ 


Do media hate insurance or love it?

Although it might appear that journalists love to bash insurers, it is easy to forget that there is some surprisingly useful coverage:

Last year the high-profile owner, Gabrielle Mullins of the Auckland performance venue The Powerstation, died of cancer. She was fundraising to pay for Keytruda, a chemotherapy drug not yet funded by Pharmac. https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/122701023/gabrielle-mullins-the-owner-of-aucklands-powerstation-venue-dies-of-cancer. Earlier this year Michael Kooge, a radio show host, also hit the headlines with his cancer story, saying "It's all pretty unlucky, if I had medical insurance when I was in my early 20s, before I got sick, I would be able to get this treatment covered, but because I didn't I'm being left to die.” At the same time Stuff linked to coverage by Tim Fairbrother of Rival Wealth discussing which type of medical insurance would be best. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81385630/what-type-of-medical-insurance-works-for-you-will-depend-on-your-circumstances

Each story is a tragedy. Also, the insurance industry could hardly hope for better promotional coverage. I draw your attention to what is implicit the first article and explicit in the second: that an unfunded drug would have helped, and that insurance would have funded this. In stories like these, it seems, the media believe in insurance. At other times, it appears that they ignore the vast volume of claims paid and believe that insurers are solely focused on denying the payment of claims. Is the glass actually half full?


Cancer - risk factors related to diet and exercise

Cancer is the single largest cause of death in New Zealand, but what causes cancer? The link between drinking alcohol and the disease is stronger than ever. New Guidelines from the United States suggest that no alcohol is the best option for cancer prevention. https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21591 


UK: Coronavirus could cause 35,000 extra cancer deaths

The BBC features this story pondering the impact of slower detection and delayed treatment on expected numbers of cancer deaths. The shorter period of restrictions on movement should make it possible for us to avoid quite the same experience - although it will take time for us to understand exactly what the impacts have been, and whether New Zealanders are back seeking tests, examinations, and treatment at the same levels that they were. 


Cancer diagnosis concerns

About a five minute read, this article covering concerns about catching up on delayed cancer diagnosis caused by the lock-down is well worth the read. I expect that we will not know the full impact (or which of the views in the article is more correct) for some time - possibly years. It is worth considering that the options were grim - without a strong response to COVID-19 then many people with cancer, who are immune compromised, would have died from COVID-19. The choice made may well have been the best possible choice, which still doesn't make it any easier for people concerned about the impact on their cancer prognosis of a delayed diagnosis. 


UK: Half of people surviving advanced melanoma due to immunotherapy drugs

UK Doctors say in this article that over half of melanoma patients are now surviving the disease that was considered untreatable a decade ago. Immunotherapy drugs are making a big impact on survival rates and quality of life. A clinical trial was done and had side effects like fatigue, rashes and diarrhoea, and after the trial the decision to make these drugs available worldwide was one of the fastest in NHS history. It is paying dividends. 


Cancer-stricken business owner struggling to sell Auckland restaurant for third of purchase price

Breast cancer patient Kingna Yu tells her story of struggling financially as she loses money on her Auckland business due to City Rail works taking place in front of her store. She has put breast reconstruction surgery on hold while she waits to see if there is a chance to get compensation for the decline in business. Click here to read more.

This is a desperately sad situation which shows the value of having a buffer against events - and if that buffer cannot be cash, it could be insurance. Of course, there is no way of knowing exactly what this person's situation was - so just to acknowledge that may not have been possible for them. 


Obesity and cancer

Obesity is a factor in cancer, this article explains how that works - and the changes necessary to reduce risks. My favourite part of the article is where they explains the action of a drug trial:

Prof Lydia Lynch said: "A compound that can block the fat uptake by natural killer cells might help.

"We tried it in the lab and found it allowed them to kill again.

"But arguably a better way would be to lose some weight - because that is healthier for you anyway."

You mean a better diet and more exercise? Dammit, I was hoping for a pill!