Thousands of recovered cancer patients in Cyprus, people who have fought cancer, beat it, and have remained for years cancer-free, without any other health problems, do not have easy access to insurance cover and loans.
Their children are also affected, in cases where the cancer can be genetically inherited.
This is what the House Health Committee heard on Thursday.
EDEK deputy Andreas Apostolou is one such case. He described to Phileleftheros what he had to go through because in 2006 he was diagnosed with one of the most treatable forms of cancer. In 2018 when he applied for a loan, two insurance companies refused to accept his medical certificates, while in 2019, he was refused medical coverage.
Currently, all over Europe the slogan “The right to be forgotten” prevails, meaning the right of these people to forget the history of cancer when applying for insurance or a mortgage after a a certain period of time. So far, seven EU member-states, including France and Italy, have proceeded with passing relevant legislation, while the competent European Committee has made recommendations to all member-states. As stated, some countries have set the years of recovery to 10, and France has recently set it to five, while in certain other cases the limit is much smaller.
In Cyprus, the issue was discussed yesterday for the very first time at the House Health Committee with deputies of all parties stating ready to introduce a bill in case there is a delay in the submission of the draft by the Health Ministry.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela revealed that possibly there will be developments on the issue at a European level and recommended patience.
All patient associations that participated in the discussion supported the “right to be forgotten” and described the challenges they faced when trying to acquire a loan or insurance.
The association of insurance companies expressed support for the bill but with reservations, warning that by including “high-risk” individuals in the insurance contracts, the premiums of all citizens will increase.
In addition to problems with the insurance companies and the banks, cancer survivors in Cyprus said that they also face problems in finding work since there are employers who do not hire them when they hear about their medical history.
There are also problems regarding state allowances since if a person does not pay contributions to the social insurance fund for two years then he/she is not entitled to any allowance. This means that if someone gets sick and is not working for two years due to the illness then he /she is not entitled to a state allowance. The same applies to the payment of the Minimum Guaranteed Income.
The House Health Committee was committed to discussing the issue again soon.