header Health Insurance

Cancer Insurance Versus Critical Illness Plan

20 May 2022, 11:43 AM

The health insurance industry has evolved a lot over the past few years. With innovative insurance covers to wholesome plans to protect specific health conditions, you can find a lot of medical insurance covers to suit your needs. One of the most popular forms of health insurance is critical illness insurance. Here, you get a fixed sum assured if you are diagnosed with a critical illness such as cancer or stroke. Many people buy this cover to protect their finances in case a major illness strikes. 

Another very popular type of health insurance plan available these days is cancer insurance covers. Here, you get compensated if you are diagnosed specifically with cancer. Both the plans are fixed benefit health insurance plans and one is a subset of the other. Which plan is better and what are the differences between the two? Let us find out in the article below.

Understanding a Critical Illness Health Insurance Plan

A critical illness health insurance plan is a type of mediclaim policy where you are assured of getting a lump sum amount of money when you are diagnosed with any of the listed critical illnesses. The insurer provides the list of illnesses and you cannot customise that list in any way. The payout happens only when the illness is diagnosed. 

List of common illnesses covered by a critical illness health insurance plan are:

  1. Cancer of a certain severity
  2. First heart attack
  3. Stroke
  4. Bypass surgery
  5. Coma
  6. End-Stage Kidney Failure
  7. Major burns
  8. Paralysis, etc.

However, different critical illness plans have a completely different list of critical or terminal illnesses that they cover. So, you need to check the list of the illnesses covered for the specific plan before choosing.

Here are the features of a critical illness plan in greater detail:

  1. Lump-sum Payout  
    The critical illness health cover works in a very straightforward manner - if you get diagnosed after buying the plan, you get the entire sum assured in one go. It is a lump sum payout and after the payment is done, the policy terminates. There is a survival period clause in a critical illness plan. If you die within 90 days of buying the plan due to a critical illness, the sum assured will not be paid out. Also, if the critical illness stems out of a pre-existing disorder, you may not receive the claim amount. 
  2. No Clause on Usage 
    Once you receive the claim amount, you are free to use it in any way you want. You can use it for your treatment, you can use it to travel abroad to get another diagnosis, you can use it to clear your debt, etc. This is a very handy benefit as at such time, financial challenges show up but with the money in your hand, it becomes a lot easier.
  3. Inexpensive 
    A critical illness plan is usually less expensive than a standard health insurance policy. This makes it cost-effective for you to have this cover.
  4. Available as a Rider/Standalone Plan  
    You can get a critical illness cover as a rider along with a life/term insurance plan or a health insurance plan. These covers are also available as standalone health plans from most of the leading health insurance companies in India.

These are the main features of a critical illness plan that you must consider when getting the desired health insurance coverage.

Understanding a Cancer Illness Plan

A cancer illness plan, as the name suggests, is a specific health plan that only offers protection against one ailment - cancer. Cancer is covered quite wholesomely under a cancer illness plan. Almost all types of cancer, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, etc are all covered under these plans. Also, cancers in various stages are also covered. Here are a few of the features of a cancer illness health insurance plan:

  1. Multiple Payouts 
    The cancer illness plans offer multiple payouts. You can get a lump sum payout upon diagnosis, which is the largest percentage of the cover. Then, during subsequent phases of the treatment, you get payouts that help you to tackle the very expensive cancer treatment costs. This is a very big and extremely beneficial feature of the cancer illness plans.
  2. Cancer Cover at Different Stages 
    The cancer cover plans offer compensation, no matter at what stage your cancer is detected. You can get the sum assured if the cancer is detected early or even if it is detected at a more advanced stage. This is a unique benefit, as in a standard critical illness plan, you can only get the payout if the cancer is detected at an advanced stage.
  3. Waiver of Premium 
    Most of the insurance providers offer the premium waiver benefit if you are diagnosed with cancer while the policy is active. This means that you are not liable to pay the future premiums, even while the policy remains active and you remain entitled to all the benefits on offer.  
  4. Preventive Health Test 
    Many cancer illness plans offer preventive cancer screening medical check-ups as a way to help you prevent cancer by getting an early diagnosis. This is another very handy advantage of the cancer plans that help you to lead a safe and long life.
  5. Cover for Relapse 
    Most of the cancer illness plans offer coverage for cancer relapse. This helps you to stay protected in a truly wholesome manner, as unfortunately, cancer relapses are more common than we think they are.

These are the factors that make a cancer health plan very appealing and beneficial.

Difference between Cancer Insurance Plans V/S Critical Illness Plans

Cancer care plans are typically a subset of critical illness health insurance plans. However, there are intrinsic differences between the two.

 Cancer PlansCritical Illness Plan
CoverageCovers all types of cancersCovers multiple critical illness plans but cancer of only specific (mentioned) severity
CostUsually cheaper than Critical Illness PlansUsually more expensive than Cancer Plans
Fixed Benefit or Indemnity Health Insurance PlansFixed Benefit Health Insurance PlansFixed Benefit Health Insurance Plans
ContinuityCan be continued even after the initial payoutUsually is discontinued after the initial payout
Treatment coverageUsually availableOnly lump sum benefit available on diagnosis. No separate treatment cost available
Cashless BenefitUsually availableNo such benefit available

Which Cover do You Need? 

As you can clearly see from the points mentioned above, both the critical illness plans as well as the cancer insurance plans offer a lot of benefits. However, to understand which option is better suited for you, you need to analyse a few points:

  1. Family History - If you have certain health conditions in your family, such as a history of cancer, you may consider getting a cancer illness plan. This is because cancer is considered to be hereditary. 
  2. Overall Health Condition - If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, if you are overweight or you are a smoker, you can consider getting a critical illness plan. Your lifestyle and health conditions can make you prone to health problems that can lead to a stroke or a heart attack. To assess your health and then choose an appropriate health cover.
  3. Other Health Covers - You need to see what your basic health plan already covers. These days, many health insurance policies offer comprehensive covers and have built-in protection for cancer and other critical illnesses. If you feel you have a health plan that does not offer the best cover, choose a special health plan such as a cancer plan or a critical illness plan to ensure you have maximum coverage.

Bottom Line
Let’s just have an explanation with an example:
For a 30 year old non-smoker healthy woman opting for HDFC ERGO iCan Enhance Health Insurance Plan for INR 10 lakhs vis-a-vis HDFC ERGO Optima Vital Health Insurance Plan.

Plan NamePremiumBenefits coveredPlan Type
iCan EnhanceINR 1711 + GST

All types of cancer

Life long renewal even after claim

Cashless cancer treatment

Actual treatment + lump sum benefit

Cancer Illness Plan
Optima VitalINR 2500 + GST

Kidney Failure


Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

Major Organ Transplantation

Multiple Sclerosis



Critical Illness Plan

If you are looking for an EXHAUSTIVE cover for cancer only, then opt for a cancer specific plan as it would be cheaper as well. However, if you need coverage for all types of possible terminal ailments other than cancer as well, then you can choose a critical illness health insurance plan.

Keeping these points in mind, you should choose the most effective health insurance cover, whether it is a critical illness plan or a cancer illness plan.


Most of the leading health insurance companies in India offer these health insurance covers. You can choose a critical illness plan or a cancer illness plan depending on what your requirements are. You get tax benefits under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act on both the types of plans. Also, you can choose the policy tenure, coverage, etc after assessing your own needs. Go ahead and get a good family health insurance cover and keep yourself as well as your family safe.

Health Insurance banner
Health Insurance

Plans starting at only ₹7/day*

Enter your details to buy Health Insurance
/ /
By proceeding, I agree to the Terms & Conditions