I happened to watch a segment on the escalating cost of cancer last night on 60 minutes. According to the doctor who was being interviewed the average person fighting cancer can not afford to fight to stay alive. Why? Because the drug companies charge an unprecedented amount of money for the drugs needed to fight cancer. In addition, some health care providers receive a commission for prescribing the medications. The doctor shared one of the number one causes for filing bankruptcy is health care debt that stem from co-pays and out of pocket expense. The segment talked about how many families have lost their homes and lively hood from trying to fight cancer.
In July when I was home in Washington visiting my family, I met with the patient coordinator in Wenatchee. I had hoped I could transfer my care so I could be closer to my family. The patient coordinator shared the cost of my treatment would more than likely leave me bankrupt. She went on to explain how she had seen so many families lose their homes and lively hood after fighting cancer. She encouraged me to continue my treatment in California. She said I was so lucky unlike so many others. She explained the coverage I’m receiving in California would never be a luxury I would receive at home. The cost of the drugs is so phenomenal and unaffordable. I have been fortunate to be living in the state of California. I have insurance through Covered California (Obama care) and through the grace of god, I qualified for a program through the state that is covering my expenses after insurance. The program did not become effective until June. I was diagnosed in April and already have expenses that have left my finances in disarray, but I have to thank god for the program. Especially since my treatment includes chemo, radiation and infusions for a year.
A few days ago, I happened to see my explanation of benefits. My chemo treatments have been billed out at over $11,000 each, however my last treatment was billed at over $14,000. I still have 2 chemo treatments left. The 10th day after each chemo treatment, I am required to go in and have my finger poked to check my blood counts. Those visits are billed out at $4,500. It’s my understanding that radiation and the Herceptin drug I will have to receive every 3 weeks for the next year are more expensive than the chemo drugs. Why? Because they are a “newer” drug. I have been told my radiation treatment will cost well over $35,000. I don’t even want to know the cost of Herceptin or the cost of surgery to have my port removed when I’ve completed treatment. To date, the cost of fighting cancer has cost over $165,000 and I’m not even close to being done. Fighting cancer comes with many other side effects and additional expenses not included in the cost of treatment that can be very costly. Prescriptions, acupuncture and massage to help with the body aches, wigs, lotions to help with the dry skin, counseling….the list goes on. It infuriates me that we live in a health care system that is more concerned with money than saving a persons life. As a country we send billions of dollars to help other countries. If our country could reserve some of those dollars to help our own, especially those fighting cancer, maybe more patients could afford to fight to live. If you think about it, as patients fight cancer to live, they end up destitute and sometimes worse, homeless. Where is the benefit in that?!!! Our health care system sucks sometimes!!!!
I’m lucky and I know it but my heart goes out to the families who are fighting cancer and do not have the help that I have been so fortunate to be blessed with. I can’t work. I’m financially strapped and I’m struggling to pay the medical expenses Ive incurred but I’m not homeless. Thank god. I have food to eat and I’m receiving the treatment I so desperately need to fight this disease. After watching last nights segment, I can only hope that when I beat this cancer, I’m able to help others in need. Cancer sucks but not as much as the greedy drug companies do. I complain a lot. I feel sorry for myself a lot and I miss my family a lot. I’d love nothing’s more than to go home but after seeing the cost of my treatment and watching last nights 60 Minutes, I have to tell myself it would take a miracle, either that or a Publishers Clearing House check made out to “Fighting Cancer”.
Next time you’re at Safeway and they ask if you’d like to donate to MS, Cancer or anything medically related say yes if the money is going to a program that will assist families in covering the cost of health care. A dollar goes a long way to helping others. I’m not sure that I would like to donate to these drug companies anymore. They are greedy and more concerned with money opposed to other peoples life!!!! But that’s only my opinion. I’m free to think what I want to think and so are you.