On Cost and Cancer in America

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18 Responses to “On Cost and Cancer in America”

  1. This happened to my husband and me. Between us we had one heart surgery, two cancers and   an intestinal bleed in 2 years. We filed for BK in the middle of this drama only to get sick again. This was in 2003/04. We still haven’t recuperated financially. As a matter of fact, our social security checks are the only thing we live on. Try finding work after having cancer and being over 55. 

  2. Erik Hess says:

    I don’t have cancer, but I have a rare genetic disorder (CVID) that requires monthly immunoglobulin replacement therapy that costs about $8-12k/month. Thanks to the ACA/Obamacare/Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan I can afford the treatments, but the out-of-pocket-maximum is very tough to handle on a freelancer photographer’s income. Suffice it to say, it’s better than the alternative, which required living with constant intake of antibiotics and regular ER visits to stave off sepsis. Even the low cost of $8-10k/yr for premiums and the out of pocket maximum will be difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile in the foreseeable future.

    Considering that I need these treatments to remain healthy for the duration of my life – at the tune of $100-140k/year – I’ve been watching stories like these and health care reform quite closely. And I’ve got deep sympathy and empathy for folks dealing with similar financial trauma – be it cancer, unexpected broken bones, or any other issue. We didn’t choose this life, this body, but we’re punished not just financially but with the anxiety of making ends meet with debtors constantly banging on the door.

  3. nem0fazer says:

    My wife has breast cancer. Chemo and mastectomy impending. So glad we’re in Canada so we don’t have to flee back to the UK where we came from. BC Cancer agency are wonderful. Good people who are really taking time with us.

  4. technogeekagain says:

    Just wanted to say “Wow; great photo, good eye!”

  5. All the more reason to be very proactive about your treatment. When my mother’s cancer was discovered the first doctor she saw was a surgeon. The surgeon wanted to immediately do surgery, which would have been followed by radiation, chemotherapy and huge bills. But we asked to get a second opinion from an oncologist (this is all within our HMO) and he put mom on a wonder drug. It has reduced most of the tumors to invisibility and has no side effects whatever. Her entire treatment consists of a single injection once a month that through vagaries of her insurance costs nothing at all, and she has already survived years beyond the original estimate given to us. If we had accepted the original doctor’s recommendations she would probably be gone and I would be broke.

  6. Itsumishi says:

    Christ I’m glad I live in a country with a decent public health system.

    Of course the Shadow Treasurer, that at the next election will almost certainly be the Treasurer is currently running around doing interviews about how we need to cut back on our ‘welfare state’, despite the fact that our economy is probably currently the strongest in all OECD nations.

    Interestingly enough he includes the public health system in his description of ‘welfare state’ but opposes means testing government funded private health care rebates, claiming it will force large parts of the population away from private health care that they have been deemed (through means testing) to be able to afford.

    On a side note, Australian politician’s usually receive quite generous pensions on retirement.

  7. Talia says:

    My mother, a breast cancer survivor, currently has to pay about $30,000 a year for health insurance (actually that quote’s from a few years ago, it’s probably gone up since).  It makes me rage so, particularly at the people who insist private health insurance is the best thing for everyone.

    It’s a sick, broken system, yet one people seem determined to cling to with all their might, presumably because change is bad and stuff, but paying huge bills is super-awesome. 

  8. mmcasetti says:

    I am a two-times cancer survivor (both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). I also have had a couple more health problems in the last 20 years (I am 34), ranging from a spleen removal to (mild, but present) bipolar disorder.  I survived thanks to the public health service in two European countries (Italy and UK). I survived, and something more – I am currently a PhD student in Maths in a top university, and my husband is a kick-ass software engineer.

    I know I will never be able to live in the USA. Their loss, in the end, but it makes me angry…

  9. ADavies says:

    Thanks for telling these stories. 

    As someone who’s healthy and has a decent (not high paying, but decent) job, I’m happy to pay taxes to help keep costs manageable, so people can get treatment without it ruining them financially.

    Oh wait.  I live in the Netherlands, so I already do pay, and, yeah, really I’m happy with that.  Seriously, money well spent.

    Don’t let the industry, politicians or anyone tell you there aren’t models that work.  Things aren’t perfect here (or anywhere), but I’m convinced most of my fellow Americans are getting a bum deal, especially the ones with cancer.

  10. You all should start walking north.  We’d love to have you in Canada :) The country is 90% empty space anyway.

    And there’s a bit of a statement implied in everyone leaving the US because it sucks so hard. 

    • Arys says:

      Oh, if only immigrating were really that easy…

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I’m 54; they’re not taking me.

      • Funk Daddy says:

        You could be turned away for a pre-existing condition that is expensive or a criminal record but your age isn’t a big deal emigrating to Canada. 

        Also if you have say, $80,000.00 in the bank you are a shoe-in. 

        Emigration to Canada is quite easy for Americans in most cases. 

        Not to say there are no hurdles, there are, but I found them to be low, justified and (for non-refugee emigration) evenly applied.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I wonder if, should I decide to try it, having two Canadian grandparents and a mother who went to high school in NB would help.

  11. Kim Parker says:

    Uninsured pt from VA here!! My mind was going a million miles a minute when I was tweeting so it is great to see it all on one page!! What a great convo it was. 

  12. Michael Moore in Sicko put US just in front of Slovenia but mind you, that this 2 million nation has a universal health care. My wife is  a cancer patient for three years, having undergone 6 surgeries with total of almost 3 months of hospitalization, many cycles of chemotherapy (each costs around $2000 – $3000) every 3 weeks, coutless diagnostic procedures – and all that without a single cent of payment other than state regulated mandatory health insurance. Not so bad when it comes to being ill.

  13. Atresica says:

    I knew that stuff was bad in the US, but I didn’t know you guys were being conned with your medicines as well.

    I know someone who had to pay Emend out of his pocket once (switching from foreign insurance to Dutch insurance took a moment) and those were just 20 euro per tablet. The EXACT SAME DRUG.

    60 euro for 3. Not 500. Not subsidised in any way.

    What the hell is happening here?

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