NTUC Income of Singapore has cut an exclusive deal with CordLife, a regional private cord blood bank, to help patients defray costs related to the stem cell transplants, which can treat about 75 diseases, including most forms of leukaemia. It is for the first time stem cell insurance is available anywhere in the world.

MediCord will be offered by March under two plans with an annual premium of either $50 or $100. It can help cover up to half of the cost of a stem cell operation, which could range anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. The plan will cover the insured patient’s hospital, surgical and transplant expenses arising from stem cell transplants using stored cord blood.

There have been about 6,000 cord blood stem cell transplant operations worldwide.

Mr Steven Fang, the chief executive officer of cell therapy company CyGenics, of which CordLife is a subsidiary, said that blood cord stem cell transplants are fast replacing bone marrow transplants as the way to go in leukaemia treatment.

Even though normal exclusions apply to the policy, the good news is that patients with a family history of blood diseases, the reason why some store their blood units with the bank, are still eligible for the plan.

Source: TODAY Online [www.todayonline.com/articles/102442.asp]