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Dear Radhika,
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Himanshu is not alone…..
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Choices we make

Blog post

Have you ever wondered how much should be the medical insurance coverage for you?

I often see people wishing that they had more cover.

But really, how much is enough?

I started wondering about my insurance coverage when I met Madhu and her husband. A charming, sweet couple, she is the homemaker and he is the young IT professional.

Last year Madhu was detected with ovarian cancer and in spite of treatment, it had relapsed. Cancer was in her brain now. She showed no symptoms though; she cooked every day, took the kids to school, did all the housework, even she couldn’t believe that she was terminally ill. The only hope of prolonging life is a new pill recently launched in the market, recommended by her treating oncologist.

“Do you think we should spend 5 lakh rupees for this treatment?” Madhu asked bluntly.

I was taken aback by that question! The consultation got suddenly very complicated.

The question was difficult not because 5 lakh was unaffordable to them, they could have managed that amount I suppose. But it suddenly became my burden to explain to them that the cost of that pill was 5 lakh per month! And she will need to take it as long as she lives or keeps responding! 60 lakhs per year; that's unaffordable to most Indians! She had already exhausted her insurance cover and all the further expense had to come out of pocket.

The pragmatic mother in Madhu spoke of securing future of kids financially and not pushing the family in poverty with her inevitable death.

Agreed we don't live in an eutopian society, but is it fair to make Madhu make these choices?
To choose to die early because she can't afford the treatment?
Thousands of people across India may be making these choices daily, I wonder when will this stop.
Will it ever stop….

Dr. Prasad Raj Dandekar
Radiation Oncologist based in Mumbai and heads the department of Radiation Oncology.
Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai

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