Financial concerns when you have testicular cancer
Most of the men interviewed here were well treated by their employers, and many remained on full pay while they were having their treatment. However, one manual worker felt that his manager had 'messed him around with his wages' while he was having chemotherapy, and another man didn't get paid while he was having treatment. Others had to retire from work for medical reasons (see 'Work').
Says that he has not had any financial problems as a result of his illness.
No none at all. I just had three months off work and I was able to have three months full pay. And then I went back and they said you know take your time when you go back, you know don't do anything too strenuous.
Has it affected insurance at all?
No, no. No, it's not affected me in any way like that.
One man pointed out that even though he got full pay while ill there were various extra costs, which made life a 'little bit of a struggle'. He mentioned the cost of travel to and from hospital, and the cost of doing things with the kids while convalescing. Patients on low incomes can get help with the travel costs associated with NHS treatment by asking at the hospital for refund form HC5.
Explains that even though he was on full pay he had some financial difficulties.
When you're at home as well, and you're convalescing, and you're thinking to yourself, I want to do more things with the kids, while I'm off for 4 months I might as well do these things, but I didn't have the money to do it. I did eventually because I sold some shares, I increased my overdraft, perhaps increased my loan, but the last thing you want to worry about is finance, when you've got something like testicular cancer you don't want to have to worry about your finances. So that was a little bit of a struggle to be honest with you, yeah, but the main thing that's come out of that really, I've said to people now and the reason I've done this new job is to point out to people I've been there, I know what it's like. So if you can get some cover put in place it's definitely worthwhile yeah. Because I won't get cover now, unfortunately, because I've had testicular cancer. Certain types of insurances will not cover you at all, exclude you in the future.
Several men recommended having critical illness cover. One man, who had taken out critical illness insurance just before he became ill, recalled that in spite of this he still had financial difficulties due to his illness, and said that it was a hard time.
Recalls that in spite of having insurance he had financial difficulties.
Yeah. I was actually very lucky, the first time I had cancer I'd recently taken out a critical illness policy, which actually gave me a pay out. And that actually enabled me to change my jobs, become self employed, give me some savings, just in case anything further did happen. As it happened those savings came in very useful because I had six months off work without being able to earn.
But I also had an income protection policy, which gave me a regular income throughout, you know, the time I was actually off work. There are some state benefits to come out as well, so a combination of those when I, I managed to survive but it, it certainly hits you financially and its only really now I'm catching up on the time I've had off. Because I ran up some debts at the time just to be able to live. I had credit cards etc., and it does take a while to get back into things. I think employed people probably have the advantage as long as they've got protection at work but it was, it was a hard time.
Men who are self-employed may have more financial problems when they become ill than those who are employed by others. One man, who had only been self-employed for a month before he became ill, wished that he had taken out critical illness insurance before he developed cancer.
Thinks he should have taken out critical illness cover before he became ill.
Yeah I worked all the way through it and for 5 months, I was in hospital for 10 days a month and probably not working very many hours, instead of a 37 hour week I was probably working 16 hours most weeks, or you know 20 hours most weeks. And bearing in mind I was paid by the day as well, obviously there was a cost equivalent to that.
You say you were working those hours when you were home, not when you were in hospital?
I worked in the office, I went into the office and did the, you know the 15 or 20 hours a week that I was doing, I worked on site in [place]. yeah.
Oh very good, it must've been difficult when you were...?
Yeah one of the things I hadn't done was take out any [insurance], because I was, you know I'd only been self employed for a month or so when I started being ill, Any cover, that might have been a wise thing to do really, to take some sort of critical illness cover.
Has it affected you for insurance purposes now?
Yeah er for obvious reasons because of the medical history I wanted to make sure that if there was anything in the future that I can be seen fairly quickly. So I tried to join a large private medical organisation and they refused to take me because of the medical history of the cancer.
Have you tried to do any other insurance or life insurance or anything since then?
Yeah I found another company that will give me some health cover
Yeah, but I'm pretty much snookered for stuff like life cover, yeah, it's difficult.
Social services can sometimes help. One man, who was paid fully for six months, said that if he had had any financial concerns he could have talked to people from social services while he was in hospital.
Explains that there are people in the hospital who can help with financial problems.
Yes the financial aspect of it is all is, again with any serious illness is a big worry on your mind. But again I was lucky with my job that I was on six months full paid before it started to, I would've gone on to half pay after six months so I only experienced just over three quarters of a month on half pay.
Which I actually used up as normal leave on some of it so yeah it worked out quite well. But the hospital have people that can help you cope with that and make sure that if you are having difficulties financially there were people that came round from the social services in the hospital and there were all sorts of forms you could've filled in for financial aid and stuff like that. So that was actually quite well sorted in the cancer ward.
I think the last thing you need whenever you're going through chemotherapy is to have financial worries.
Another man, who developed testicular cancer in 2001, had only just left a job. He said that he had been able to survive financially by reducing expenditure. His wife was working, and he had been able to claim state benefits. He pointed out that people from social services explain about benefits.
Explains how he was able to claim State benefits.
Bound to be, with everybody there's always bound to be an implication as regards money factors like. But nothing really bad, not drastic. My wife has been working. You always pull through no matter what, you just cut your cloth. I mean if, if it meant getting rid of things like a car and all that caper you get rid, if it means surviving do it.
So I mean you said you'd just left one job so you weren't still employed and getting money from them?
That's right, that's right. I was, you see I didn't even know that I'd got testicular cancer at the time, it was a job that I left to go to another one.
Were you able to claim sickness benefit? I'm not quite sure how it works.
Yes well what it is like at first I think it's 6 month you're allowed the benefits which is '53.10 a week. After that if you are unfortunate to still be poorly after that your money goes up. But I didn't go through all that because I was back to work after the 6 months like.
Right so what do they call that benefit, is that called Sickness Benefit?
It's er Income Support I think it was if I remember rightly so yeah.
If you go along to your social like you know, no matter where you are, they will explain everything to you. After I come off that if I remember rightly so, while I was waiting for my job I signed on, on the dole. Being on the dole it was the same money as the Income Support. But like I say I wasn't, I wasn't actually out of work that long to experience a great deal of hardship because I'm back at work now like. But if I can, if I could help everybody out there I would.
Do you have to take certificates from the doctor to say you were sick, to get the '53 a week?
Yes, you still need a note, you still need a note.
Men's experience suggests that state benefits may not always cover expenses. One man, diagnosed in 2000, described his financial difficulties when he had to return to hospital for chemotherapy at the end of 2001.
Says that it is important to sort out financial arrangements such as benefits before starting...
Tell me, do you mind me asking, how much is that, I haven't a clue?
Oh it's, I was getting '48 a week.
Not much to live on.
Not much yeah, I mean that's what I've often said, yeah, it's not much. I think that there should be definitely differences made between someone suffering from cancer, trying to eat well, and someone who's just broken their toe.
So to survive you just get '48 a week, and then you get your house?
Yeah I got '48 and you get your rent paid for but not all of your rent is always paid. So basically I think I had '20 for food a week. And I also got Council Tax Benefit so my Council Tax was paid but it wasn't amazingly good. But I mean the first thing I thought was, 'Just make sure that's [financial benefits] all at least working'.
One young man said that Macmillan Cancer Support had given him some money. He explained that the charity has grants for people who have financial difficulties.
After having had testicular cancer some men found it hard to obtain new insurance. For example, one man found it hard to get car insurance until he decided not to mention that he had had cancer on any of the application forms (although this might invalidate any claims he makes). Another man found it hard to get holiday insurance, but eventually, after searching, he found a company that would offer him cheap holiday insurance. Macmillan Cancer Support has a guide to travel insurance which lists companies that will insure people with cancer.
Reassures men that they will be able to get holiday insurance if they look carefully.
So it's worth looking?
It's worth looking yeah don't be put off by that.
Oh that's good.
I was quoted over '1,000 to insure me to fly to Greece and back, where I eventually got it for about '28.
That's good so it's worth looking carefully.
Life insurance premiums were affected too. Men complained that insurance brokers tend to classify them as 'high risk', simply because they had heard the word 'cancer'. One man thought that men cured of testicular cancer ought to be able to obtain insurance without an extra premium once three years had passed. He said that he had been told to go to the ombudsman if he were hit with an extra premium.
Points out that people who have had cancer may find it hard to get life insurance.
Yeah I think one thing that quite often is overlooked by people is the effect it has on your life insurance premiums, if you take out any new life insurance, which quite often you need to do. I needed to do. For instance when I bought a new house; the insurance companies will heavily weight the premiums for a certain length of time after an operation of that type. Because I suppose they just see the word 'cancer' and it's dealt with in exactly the same way whether it's perfectly clear or if you've still got a problem. So that's a potential financial set back. And yeah I mean that will, I think that will last. I've talked to a number of brokers about it, trying to get some idea of how long that will go on for and I think that lasts for 5 years after the operation and then they will then reconsider. But by that time obviously you're 5 years older so the insurance is more expensive anyway.
For more information about state benefits contact GOV.UK or the Department for Work and Pensions.