On Cost and Cancer in America

A Twitter conversation on the financial devastation that often follows a cancer diagnosis in the US, where treatment is expensive—and even those fortunate to have jobs and health insurance can be crushed by medical debt.

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  1. Skimming headlines yesterday, I read a "feel-good" cancer news item making the rounds about a 6-year-old boy in Texas who helped his father pay for cancer treatment by opening a lemonade stand. 
  2. Downright Dickensian.
  3. Responses flowed in from cancer survivors who have personally experienced the injustice of cancer costs in America.
  4. She's right. Depending on the provider, the drug, and the patient's insurance coverage, $10K might even buy you just one chemo infusion. Or half of one. And chemotherapy typically requires a lot more than one infusion. 

    Helen Walters points out that the issue has broad cultural impact, too:
  5. A number of my followers shared their personal stories linking job struggles and cancer struggles.  For many, insurance is inextricably linked with employment. And employment in America is anything but secure.
  6. Your home or your life. Choose one.
  7. Here are my wrists, a few days ago. When I walked in to the chemo clinic, before they hooked me up to my drip I was presented with a bill for more than a thousand dollars: my out-of-pocket, after insurance. I get a bill every two weeks, each time I go in for an infusion.
  8. I joke to my friends that I wear the wrist-band because I "HOPE" I can figure out how to cover all of the costs of my treatment—and the drugs needed to deal with the side effects of that treatment. 
  9. It's really hard on older Americans, at or past retirement age.
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