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Critical Illnesses & Treatment Costs in India

Cost of critical illnesses can cost you a fortune and wipe out all your savings. A critical illness plan will help you bear the high cost of treatment.

  • 15 Dec 2018
  • min read

Critical illnesses are termed critical because they can significantly impact your lifestyle, impair your earning ability, and in the worst case, prove fatal. Factors that make critical illnesses even more dangerous are their potential to wipe out your entire savings, slide you and your family into a debt trap, and derail your life goals.

India is fast witnessing a rise in the number of critical ailments, the treatment of which is pushing many into poverty. Here are some of the major critical ailments and an approximate cost of their treatment in India.


Slowly becoming a mass killer in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) estimates more than 17.3 lakh cases of cancer in India with more than 8.8 lakh deaths by 2020. A disease involving abnormal growth of cells, treatment of cancer is emotionally and financially challenging. In case the family’s principal breadwinner is diagnosed with the disease, the suffering is endless.

There are several types of cancer such as blood cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, etc. Treatment costs involve doctor visits, chemotherapy, medicine expenses and pre- and post-hospitalization expenses. A single drug can cost ₹75,000 to ₹1 lakh and a single chemotherapy cycle can cost anything between ₹1 to 2 lakh. Cumulatively, cancer treatment can go upwards of ₹10 lakh in India.

Heart ailments

Heart ailments have seen a significant rise in India in the last few years. According to a study, deaths due to cardiovascular disease rose by 34% between 1990-2016 in India. The study also found Ischemic heart disease and stroke to be the leading cause of death. Smoking, obesity, hypertension, stress, unhealthy food habits and high cholesterol levels are some of the primary reasons for heart ailments.

Congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, pulmonary stenosis and mitral valve prolapse are some of the common heart ailments. Just like cancer, treating these diseases is an expensive affair. Though the cost of treatment varies, expenses can easily reach ₹3-5 lakh or even more. Follow-up visits along with lab and CT scans further inflate the medical bill.

Kidney diseases

According to statistics, 1 in 10 persons in India is estimated to suffer from some form of chronic kidney disorder. Nearly 1.75 lakh new patients suffer from kidney failure every year and need dialysis or kidney transplant. However, dialysis and kidney transplant are quite expensive. It’s estimated that only 3-4% of people get kidney transplant while only 20-25% can afford dialysis.

While a kidney transplant can cost anything upwards of ₹6.5 lakh, dialysis can set you back by ₹18,000-20,000 per month. Following a successful transplant, lifelong intake of steroids, supplements and immunosuppressants can further cost ₹5,000 per month. For a middle-class household, the expenses are quite high, and many may find it difficult to bear.

Liver Cirrhosis

Obesity-related disorders and intake of alcohol have boosted the cases of liver cirrhosis in India significantly. Around 10 lakh people are diagnosed with liver cirrhosis every year, which is the tenth most common cause of death in India according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Also, once diagnosed, there are very few chances of the disease reversal. Liver transplant is the only way to treat this disease, failing which the patient may succumb within 2-3 years.

Just like the above-mentioned critical ailments, liver transplant is quite expensive and can range anywhere between ₹10-20 lakh. While finding a donor in itself is a critical affair, there are several regulatory issues like authenticating paperwork which delay the process. Following a successful transplant, around ₹8,000-10,000 per month is required for immunosuppressants.

Alzheimer’s disease

With the fast ageing Indian population, the danger of Alzheimer’s gripping the Indian elderly looms large. According to the India Ageing Report 2017, the elderly population in India is increasing at a faster rate of 3%. The cost of taking care of Alzheimer’s can be upwards of ₹40,000 per month.

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As the disease progresses, the cost of care only shoots up. In urban areas, the cost can even go up to ₹3 lakh per month.

The solution

To meet the high costs of treating critical illnesses, it’s essential to have a critical illness insurance plan or a comprehensive health insurance plan in your portfolio. Such a policy is a fixed benefit plan that pays a pre-defined sum on diagnosis of the critical ailment. The lump sum received can help bear the astronomical cost of critical diseases.

Such a policy can also take care of the post-hospitalisation costs after treatment of the disease, thus preventing drying up of your savings.

Note: A critical illness plan is a supplement to your regular health insurance or mediclaim policy which reimburses only hospitalization expenses.

Related Article:

Effects of Diabetes on Your Physical and Financial Well-Being
Heart Attack First Aid Steps Everyone Must Know

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