Right to oncological oblivion

What is it?

This is the right not to have a history of having suffered from cancer considered in various situations of daily life, such as taking out life insurance or applying for a loan.

Where does this initiative come from?

In February 2022, the European Parliament approved a directive to step up the fight against cancer. This directive stated that “insurers and banks should not take into account the medical history of people affected by cancer” and urged that “national legislations should ensure that cancer survivors are not discriminated against in comparison with other consumers”.

How has Spain responded to this directive?

In response to this directive, the Spanish government adjusted our legislation to implement the “right to oncological oblivion”. Until now, people who had suffered from cancer had to inform banks and insurance companies when taking out a policy or financial product (loans, mortgages, etc.), which often resulted in the rejection of their applications or increased premiums due to the perceived risk.

In Spain, it is estimated that around 1.5 million people have survived cancer. The implementation of this legislation is a crucial step in ensuring that these survivors do not face discrimination in accessing insurance and financial products.

Following this directive, the Spanish government approved Royal Decree-Law 5/2023, of June 28, which regulates the “right to oncological oblivion”.

Legislative changes

Article 209 of the decree mentions the amendments made to Law 50/1980, of October 8, 1980, on insurance contracts. Article 10 is amended and an additional fifth provision is added.

Article 10 amended: “The policyholder of a life insurance policy is not obliged to declare whether he/she or the insured has suffered from cancer once five years have elapsed since the end of the radical treatment without subsequent relapse. Once this period has elapsed, the insurer may not consider the existence of oncological antecedents for taking out the insurance, and any discrimination or restriction on this ground shall be prohibited.”

Fifth additional provision: “In no case may access to contracting be denied, contracting procedures different from the usual ones be established, more onerous conditions be imposed or any other way discriminate against a person for having suffered an oncological pathology, once five years have elapsed since the end of radical treatment without subsequent relapse”.

“The Government, by royal decree, may modify the deadlines established in the previous section and in the last paragraph of Article 10, jointly or for specific oncologic pathologies, depending on the evolution of scientific evidence.”

Who can request the right to oncological oblivion?

Persons who have suffered an oncological pathology may apply for this right, provided that at least 5 years have elapsed since the end of the treatment without relapse. In Europe, approximately 12.1 million people have survived cancer, highlighting the importance of this measure at the continental level.

Changes implied by this right

For the contracting of insurance and banking products by patients with oncological pathologies, once 5 years have elapsed since the end of treatment without relapse:

  • Any clauses, stipulations, conditions or covenants that exclude a person for having suffered from cancer shall be null and void.
  • It is forbidden to differentiate in the contracting of insurance because of having suffered an oncological pathology.
  • The obligation to declare whether one has suffered from cancer in order to subscribe a life insurance policy is eliminated and it is prohibited to consider oncological antecedents in this procedure.

The impact of these measures could benefit millions of people who face difficulties in obtaining insurance and financial products due to their medical history. If you would like to make an appointment with one of our specialist lawyers or one of our advisors, please do not hesitate to contact us.