30 August 2018
In 7 years, Discovery cancer diagnoses increase 45%
Cancer diagnoses among Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) members – the country’s largest medical insurance scheme – increased by 45% between 2011 and 2017, says a Business Insider report. A survey of its healthcare claims found that in 2017, 38,295 Discovery members were being treated for cancer, or 1.39% of the scheme’s roughly 1.6m members. That means 1,394 people out of a 100,000 Discovery members were being treated for cancer in 2017, compared to just 961 in 2011.
“This increase in prevalence is due to a combination of factors including ageing of the scheme, adverse selection and the introduction of new treatments which extend for long durations,” Discovery said.
Prostate cancer was the most common cancer for male Discovery members and average South Africans, while lung cancer is most prevalent cancer among men globally. The number of Discovery members treated for prostate cancer increased by 63% from 2011 to 2017, with the average age for diagnosis being 66.8 years old.
Breast cancer is the most treated cancer for female Discovery members, average South Africans and women globally. The report says the prevalence of breast cancer increased by 42% among Discovery members, with incidents increasing significantly from the age of 40. Discovery spent 103% more on cancer treatment the past six years – totalling R3bn in 2017.
“The increase is made up of a combination of factors including an increased prevalence of cancer as well as an increase in (the) cost of cancer treatment, partly due to the introduction of new high-cost treatments,” Discovery said.
The average price of cancer treatment increased by 17% from R66,339 in 2011 to R77,644 in 2017.
The report says key findings on oncology claims in the Healthcare Claims Tracker include: there has been a 10% increase in new cancer diagnoses and a 45% increase in DHMS members receiving active treatment; there were 7 597 DHMS members newly diagnosed with cancer in 2017 – an increase of 10% since 2011; 38 295 DHMS members are being actively treated for cancer, which equates to 1 394 people in every 100 000 – an increase of 45% over the past six years; there is a higher number of cancer diagnoses between the ages of 76 and 80; men have a significantly higher number of new cancer diagnoses compared with females from the age of 56; rates of new diagnoses are higher in women between the ages of 35 and 55; the Western Cape and Free State had the highest rates of new cancer cases in 2017; and Limpopo and the Eastern Cape had the lowest rates of newly diagnosed patients