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Recovered cancer patients in France set to have easier access to loans

France is a leading country in allowing former sufferers to not have to tell insurance and mortgage companies about the disease after a number of years in recovery, says the head of a cancer association

A new bill seeks to make it easier for recovered cancer patients to borrow money and get insurance in France Pic: Lisa-S / Shutterstock

People who have recovered from cancer in France are set to soon be able to ‘forget’ about the disease in relation to giving details to insurers or when applying for loans or mortgages after five years of recovery.

This means they will not face higher premiums or refusals as they may do now because of their former illness. Currently they do not have to declare after ten years in recovery.

The text carrying this legislation, known as the ‘right to forget’ bill, was agreed upon yesterday (February 3) by a mixed parliamentary commission. 

It came one day before World Cancer Day, which is celebrated on February 4 each year.

Both houses of France’s parliament still have to give final approval to the bill before it is adopted, with readings scheduled to take place on February 10 and 17, but it is highly likely to be passed.

The step was welcomed by Céline Lis-Raoux, who founded the French cancer charity Rose Up in 2011.

“It is something we have been waiting on for 10 years,” she told Franceinfo.

“There are nearly three million cancer patients [in France]. 

“This is a considerable number of people. [The bill] marks a major step forward and in France we are really the first to be so open about loan insurance for the chronically ill.”

In 2017, France passed a bill giving recovered cancer patients the right to forget the disease after 10 years. But Ms Lis-Raoux’s goal has been to reduce that further.

“As a reminder, ten years ago you still had to declare to the insurer that you had cancer for 20 years.

“[Under the proposed law], when you want to borrow money, and insure your loan, five years after your cancer is over, you will no longer have to declare it to your insurer. 

“They won't know, and they won't be able to overcharge you [charge more because of the person's illness].”

Loan issues for ex-cancer sufferers

Ms Lis-Raoux said that the majority of cancer patients cannot take out loans, or they get them at unsustainable rates. 

Patients with a serious illness usually have to take an AERAS convention when borrowing, which means paying higher insurance premiums. 

“People were obliged to insure their loan, otherwise the bank would not give it to them, but they were obliged to accept to be insured at incredible prices,” Ms Lis-Raoux said. 

“Sometimes the loan insurance costs more than the loan repayment itself.”

Scrapping of the health questionnaire up to €200,000

A second element of the bill scraps the requirement to complete a health questionnaire for all mortgages under €200,000 per person (as long as it is taken out before a person’s 60th birthday). 

“Obviously, this also opens up mortgages to all chronically ill people, meaning cancer patients, but also people with HIV and diabetes, etc.,” Ms Lis-Raoux said.

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