The Costs of Cancer – Even in Canada

Canadian healthcare is free, right? That’s what the belief is, anyway. What you don’t realize until you get sick is, that while the primary treatments are free, there are a lot of costs that are part of the treatment process that are completely out of pocket. I mentioned a couple of them in my post about taking on a second job, but as each week passes I’m still surprised what extra expenses are popping up.

Let’s start with the biggest one – income loss. As of this week, Bruce can no longer work. He will probably be off work for 6-8 weeks total. His company does not offer short term disability. Long term disability will not kick in until he has been off work for 119 days. The Canadian government does offer short term sick leave through their Unemployment Insurance program, but… there is a mandatory 2 week waiting period with no income, and the maximum payout is $501 per week before taxes. This is significantly less than Bruce makes. Because I was off work for 10 weeks earlier this year, our savings is already less than it should be, but we will manage. At a guess, depending on how long he’s off work, this will cost us ~$4,500.

Transportation and Parking: Bruce has to go for radiation 5x per week for 7 weeks (35 treatments). As well, there are additional appointments for IV hydration, surgery to insert a feeding tube, etc. etc. Best estimate is that gas is ~$5-7 per trip, and parking is $3.50 for 2 hours (some appointments are longer). Best estimate? 40+ trips, $10 per trip for gas and parking. That’s a minimum of $400 in extra costs.

Expenses not covered by Manitoba Medical. Dental visits, prescriptions, renting an IV stand, and many other (as yet unknown) items are not covered by Manitoba Medical and may also not be covered by our private insurance. Bruce needed ~$3,000 worth of dental work before treatments started; his insurance annual maximum was $1,000. Out of pocket costs: $2,000. Additional dental work that will not be covered will be another ~$2,000 after treatment ends. His drug plan covers 80% of prescription costs – I haven’t even tried to track our share of those costs.

Some group insurance plans have a critical illness benefit that would help us with these costs, but his doesn’t. He does have a life insurance benefit, but we’re really hoping we’ll never take advantage of that one!

So we’re dealing with it one expense at a time. Our savings is taking a hit again, but I guess that’s what savings are for. Our banker allowed us to restructure a few things which helped us out in the short term too. All I know is, once we’re through all this, I may be looking at private insurance policies to cover what our normal group plans don’t.



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One Response to The Costs of Cancer – Even in Canada

  1. PlumPetals says:

    That’s so much to take on. I’m glad that you have a short-term plan in place. One step at a time. One day at a time x

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