The Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan is a supplemental insurance policy available to volunteer and career firefighters. The bill would; upon a diagnosis of cancer, entitle a firefighter to benefits, if a firefighter has been in a South Carolina Fire Department for at least five continuous years and within ten years of last date of active service.
Upon medical diagnosis, as a firefighter you would be reimbursed up to $12,000 annually for any out of pocket medical expenses to include but not limited to; deductibles, copayments, or coinsurances costs incurred. A benefit of $20,000 would be provided upon a diagnosis as defined and not to exceed one benefit payment per calendar year. In the case of death, as a result of the cancer or circumstances, a $75,000 death benefit would be provided. This bill would also make a firefighter’s death, that is a result of the cancer or circumstances that arise from the treatment of cancer; a line of duty death in South Carolina.
As a firefighter, you are at a nine percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and fourteen percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population (CDC & NIOSH). As a firefighter in South Carolina, along with your 17,500+ other brothers and sisters, you are responding to more than 20,000 fires in South Carolina each year.
The cancers mostly responsible for this higher risk were respiratory (lung, mesothelioma),
GI (oral cavity, esophageal, large intestine), and kidney. Firefighters’ risks are significantly higher for some specific types of cancer than the general population.
In 2013, NIOSH researchers reported a two-fold excess of malignant mesothelioma, a very rare cancer. Put another way, firefighters have a 100 percent increased risk (100 percent = double = 2 times) of getting mesothelioma. Firefighters have a 129 percent increased risk of dying from mesothelioma. A 2006 meta-analysis by Grace LeMasters of 32 firefighter cancer studies noted a two-fold excess for testicular cancer. Firefighters have a 62 percent higher risk of getting esophageal cancer, and they have a 39 percent increased risk of dying from esophageal cancer, according to the NIOSH research.