BT’s Cancer Assistance Program gives clients a better chance at getting their life back on track earlier

Since launching in January 2018, BT’s Cancer Assistance Program has produced encouraging results:

  • 86 per cent of participating clients improved their functional capacity through a tailored work-conditioning program
  • 28 out of 35 participants returned to work or are expected to do so within the first half of 2019
  • An average client satisfaction rating of 90 per cent
  • Earlier access to health support intervention services, reduced from nine to five months.

BT has released the results of its award-winning Cancer Assistance Program (CAP) – the first claims support program in Australia to focus on providing access to early intervention, tailored for life insurance clients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Launched in January 2018, the pilot program has resulted in 86 per cent of clients citing an improvement in functional capacity, giving them a better chance at returning to wellness within a shorter time frame, post-disability. The program has also given clients a better claims service experience, with client satisfaction averaging at 90 per cent.1

Furthermore, through the program, clients with cancer have been able to access health support earlier, with the period between notification of claim and commencement of health support intervention services reducing from nine to five months.

BT was recently recognised for its innovative approach with the CAP, winning at the Financial Services Council’s 2019 Life Insurance Awards, in the innovation in retail life insurance category.

A total of 35 clients have participated in the CAP; 16 of those have completed their health support programs, and among those clients, 13 have returned to work on full duties. Out of the 19 clients whose programs are ongoing, 12 have returned to work either on full or partial duties, or have a medical-endorsed and planned return to work date within the first half of 2019. Seven cases are either at the very early stage of recovery, or are likely to have no return to work outcome due to the severity or declining status of their condition. The results will inform a new process for claims management of cancer claims at BT.

BT’s health support and early intervention programs are based on compelling Australasian and international research which suggests that, generally speaking, work is good for health and wellbeing.2

Neil Borthwick, BT’s Head of Claims, Life Insurance, said: “Whilst cancer is a complex condition with varying treatments, regimens and prognoses, based on our claims experience, we identified that an early intervention model was essential. Offering health support earlier gives clients with cancer a better chance at getting their lives back on track.

“The initial results, which show that most participants return to work on full or partial duties, are very encouraging, and inspire us to do more with this tailored approach.”

The CAP evolved out of BT’s broader work on structured health support programs for clients. It also applies BT’s unique Health Outcome Measure, which compares the improvement in a client’s health and wellbeing at the end of their support program with their pre-disability level of function. The average Health Outcome Measure for CAP participants was 88 per cent.

Mr Borthwick continued: “BT’s CAP is based on a coordinated and structured approach, and gives clients access to a health coach and other experts, plus support around sleep hygiene, exercise and healthy eating. It also provides community engagement opportunities so clients can remain connected with their community, which helps to empower them.”

As a group, clients who have been diagnosed with cancer have been a particular focus for BT because of the prevalence of the disease; in addition, results from past claims suggested that people with cancer respond well to tailored health support.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Australia, accounting for about three in 10 deaths.3 Breast, lung and prostate cancer are among the most prevalent diseases for customers who have made a claim on a BT Protection Plan policy.4 However, as treatments for cancer have improved markedly, survival rates have improved. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, while cases of cancer have tripled since early 1980s, five-year survival rates have improved from 50% in 1986–1990 to 69% in 2011–2015.5

Recognised in the life insurance industry as a leader in providing health support to clients, BT is also winning consumers’ approval, and in 2018 was awarded the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) / Beddoes Institute Consumer Choice awards for ‘return to health and wellness’ and ‘focus on early intervention’. In addition, BT won the annual Swiss Re & ALUCA Excellence and Innovation in Return to Work Award in 2018.

1 All results relating to the CAP are current as of 31 January 2019
2 Realising the health benefits of work – an evidence update, Nov 2015, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians https://www.racp.edu.au/docs/default-source/advocacy-library/pa-health-benefits-of-work-evidence-update.pdf?sfvrsn=af75331a_6
3 Cancer Council https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/facts-and-figures.html.
4 For women, breast and lung cancer are among the most prevalent diseases relating to claims on BT Protection Plan insurance policies; for men, lung and prostate cancer. From 2014 to 2017, BT paid out a total of $33 million in insurance claims to women who were diagnosed with breast cancer; and $11.5 million in insurance claims to men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
5 Cancer in Australia 2019, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare https://www.aihw.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/2019/march/cases-of-cancer-triple-since-early-1980s-but-survi