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The hidden costs of breast cancer

The hidden costs of breast cancer

For Australian women, it’s frightening to know that 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85. To make the reality even more gruelling, every 30 minutes, an Australian will hear the words “you have breast cancer”. 1 

While breast cancer is a disease that mostly affects women, there are a small number of men who are impacted each year. Due to the sheer numbers, the studies referenced in this article focus on the impact of breast cancer on women only. 

For the thousands of women affected each year by a breast cancer diagnosis, many are unaware of the costs involved which come with it. Appropriate treatment and care can be as expensive as they are invasive. Breast reconstruction surgery, radiotherapy treatment, breast MRI scans, genomic tests such as Oncotype DX, and genetic testing are just some of the treatments those diagnosed may experience.

Financial impact pushing sufferers to the brink

A report from the Breast Cancer Network Australia has found women with private health insurance typically pay around double the out-of-pocket costs of those who do not hold private health insurance.2 Unknown to many, hidden costs incurred for both the privately insured and the uninsured can reach thousands of dollars, including for counselling, accommodation if travelling for treatment, higher energy bills for heating and cooling a house to ensure comfort during treatment and even buying new clothes to suit a new body shape after a mastectomy or weight changes because of treatment. Moreover, a study by Cancer Council Victoria in 2016 estimated that the average cancer patient in Victoria would spend $1,128 on parking alone in their first year after a cancer diagnosis.3  

What’s more, working women could face a significant loss of income from extended periods of leave to get better. However, if she is one of the 38 per cent of Australians who do not have paid leave entitlements, has insufficient paid sick leave to cover her time off work for treatment, or has no income protection insurance, then her household income is likely to drop significantly. The Breast Cancer Network Australia report found the total number of household hours worked dropped by 50 per cent in the first year after a breast cancer diagnosis.4  

It’s these financial woes which can push women and their families to the brink, making it even more important to have protection products available to help reduce the financial burden of breast cancer and allow women and their families to focus on what’s important.

With the increasing prevalence of breast cancer in Australia, it’s crucial for women to be ensuring they have a backup plan in place for when/if the unfortunate does happen. 

ALI's own experience

Over the 12 months prior to (October 2018), ALI Group have received claims from and paid benefits to 19 women due to breast cancer diagnosis – and the youngest of these was just 33 years of age.

Without any protection in place, women and their families could face up to $40,000 of out of pocket costs5 due to breast cancer and his could lead to selling their homes (their safe place) and even relying on family and friends to assist with heavy financial burdens. 

One of ALI Group’s very own, Dinh Robley, a Business Development Manager, has recently gone through her own breast cancer battle. Dinh, who has been with ALI for just over two years, says she was no stranger to the statistics, but she never believed she would become part of those statistics herself. 

In 2017, Dinh was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. The diagnosis came completely out of the blue for Dinh, who had no family history of breast cancer and considered herself fit and healthy. 

Hear from Dinh below as she talks about her experience with breast cancer and how having a protection plan in place, alleviated the financial burden on her and her family:

Ask your broker today!

If you’d like to learn more about what putting a protection plan in place can mean for you if the unthinkable happens, reach out to your broker today for more information on a Loan Protection Plan



In support of our customers, colleagues, friends and family members who have been impacted by breast cancer, ALI Group employees are taking part in a step challenge which sees to raising vital funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. You can make a difference too, by donating at:





1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2012. Cancer in Australia: An overview, 2012. Cancer series no. 74. Cat. no. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW. 2. Breast Cancer Network Australia, 2016. The financial impact of breast cancer. 3. Cancer Council Victoria, 2016. Investigation of parking at Victorian cancer treatment centres. 4. Breast Cancer Network Australia, 2016. The financial impact of breast cancer. 5. BCNA Submission to The Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into out-of-pocket costs in Australian health care 12 May 2014.


Loan Protection Plan is jointly issued by Hannover Life Re of Australasia Ltd ABN 37 062 395 484 (Death, Terminal Illness, Living and Accidental Injury Benefits) and QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited ABN 78 003 191 035 AFSL 239545 (Involuntary Unemployment Benefit). It is distributed by Australian Life Insurance Distribution Pty Ltd ABN 31 103 157 811 AFSG 226403 (ALI). ALI receives commission for each policy sold. Any advice provided is of a general nature only and does not take into consideration your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the Product Disclosure Statement when deciding if this product is appropriate for you.

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