It’s not bad enough that cancer can drain our energy, health, and spirit; it also can drain our pocketbook. The Associated Press’s Marilynn Machione wrote an excellent piece about the added burden of paying for cancer. You might have seen it in your local paper. If not, here it is from The Des Moines Register.
When my doctor ordered a Neulasta shot for me after my first chemo treatment, he mentioned that it’s the “drug you see advertised on TV.” Seriously. Worse, a nurse later said the same thing.
Good to know. My drug is well-advertised. That is so very meaningful to me, because we all know that advertising is all about truth.
What nobody told me is that the drug is outrageously expensive. Unbelievably expensive. Mine cost a mere $2,000 a shot, but I have heard of others costing up to $7,000. Truly, how can one shot possibly be worth 1/7 of the median household income in the United States? (I used the Census Bureau’s figure of $49,445.)
The stack of insurance papers and medical bills from my cancer treatment almost six years ago is about an inch thick. When I was dealing with major stress over my health, I was also stressing over who paid what, how much it cost, and what I was responsible for. This is a common scenario–a cancer patient and her family poring over papers late at night, worrying about healing, worrying about paying for it.
The high cost of drugs is honestly a disgrace. The Affordable Care Act, which goes into full effect in 2014 is a step in the right direction, making it illegal for insurance companies to drop you once you’re sick, to refuse you coverage once you have the Big C as a pre-existing condition, and to put caps on coverage. It helps with drug costs for patients on Medicare. We need much more, though. We need to stop bickering and actually help people in need.