America's Healthcare System

I got home from work yesterday to an email from my brother, Steve, that just said:

Sitting here, crying, and reading this.

Weird thing is, the woman who wrote it - I emailed her earlier that day.  I started following her on twitter after my treatments were over and I felt like I was mentally able to go searching online for other cancer survivors, patients, etc.  (I was NOT up to this at all DURING treatment.  Not even a little...)  Again with the serendipity thing.  But that's not my point today.

My point today is that it was a struggle to read this entire article.  In fact, if we're being honest here, I couldn't read it all.  One, because it was just SO UPSETTING.  And two, as I got into reading it, I realized that I had no idea what MY cancer cost has been so far.  

So I logged onto my insurance company's website, and grabbed a calculator.  It's hard to tell, the way it is set up on there, what each dollar amount was for, exactly, but I did my best to sort out the appointments, procedures, and medications listed that only related to my cancer.  And what I came up with was UNBELIEVABLE!

In total, and only "so far" because there are still several items that have not been processed yet, my insurance company has paid $206,108.80 for my cancer.  Well, minus the $10,000 in deductible that I have to pay.  ($5,000 last year, $5,000 this year - feel free to keep using that donation button... hehehe!)

I cannot even express how lucky I feel to have insurance.  Even with such a high deductible.  Because I don't know if I have made $206K in my entire working LIFE... Well, no.  If I think about it, I have.  But it took about a decade to do and I do have OTHER expenses.  You know.  Home.  Food.  Car.  Utilities.  Etc.  But really, how much is it helping?  The insurance, that is.  Ten grand is still a ridiculous amount of money for kids whose 2011 tax returns combined income column isn't even triple that.  And no matter how broke you might be, financial assistance just doesn't seem to be available if you have insurance at all.  Well, I don't officially know that - I DID submit the request for assistance to the financial counselor woman at Moll Pavilion Cancer Center.  I'm just assuming we don't qualify because the unhelpful bitch never got back to me.  (She never even got TO me in the first place until I complained about leaving her multiple messages with no response to one of my favorite nurses and said nurse got on her ass to call me.  Useless.  Unbelievable.)  

Anyhow.  I just do not understand how our government can be so ass-backwards as to believe that this works on any level.  Reading the responses on that article from people all over the rest of the world, where medical expenses are not the type of horrific concern they are here in America... it's infuriating.  

If I was my under-insured brother, I'd be crying, too.

Xxo, Phoebe


salli said…
Phoebe, that has been my point for a long time. In home health I see elderly doing without so they can afford the treatments they need, or forgoing those altogether. I will lose my coverage in 2 yrs when my husband turns 65, or when he passes, whichever comes first. Pre-existing conditions? Have lots, take your pick. Chance of coverage if the health care act is repealed? Zilch. We are so behind n the US in healthcare, all because of hubris. "We're #1"... yeah, in lack of compassion and common sense, but hey, we don't have socialized medicine! F'ing idiots.
Jim Dustin said…
We had enormous bills too with Linda's two cancers. All were paid by insurance except for my deductible each year. I am now looking for coverage as my COBRA will be dropped because Linda is now 65. I evidently have preexisting and my first attempt at individual insurance has been turned down (because of a borderline high glucose reading). So I will keep trying and I may have to change my diet to get that down. I have read all of the Affordable Care Act and whatever we need to do, that does not look like the way to go. There may be parts like preexisting, that we need to keep, but if you are a 70-year old person (referred to as a "unit" in the bill) and you have a brain aneurism, doctors will not be able to operate immediately. As it's written, they would have to convene a meeting with government analysts to see if it's okay. Meanwhile the patient died. There are too many funky things like this and we need to go back to the drawing board and create a bill, not in closed back rooms and voted on 220–215 with sneaky reconciliation rules at midnight, but with bi-partisan adult conversations. We are way bigger than Canada and UK combined. We have to be very careful to not let government get gigantic just to administer whatever is designed. The CBO has recently found that the estimate for costs is $500 billion short —or a half trillion more than advertised. I suspect it's even higher. We have to put in private incentives for continued innovation or we'll lose the brain trust of the Mayo's and Cleveland Clinics. We have to put stop gaps in so that people aren't over working the system. Let insurance companies compete across state lines. Reign in the malpractice suits. Doctors are dropping out of practice because they can't afford the premiums, which also drives up expense with increased defensive testing (multiple MRIs and CATs so that someone can't sue and claim they were negligent later) and even defensive surgery and over medications. It's a mess for sure, but I'm hopeful that when we go back to the drawing board, we can be honest about this. If we need a tax, call it a tax. But we better be careful, because we are approaching a point where more people are using the benefits of taxes, than those paying them. Somebody has to pay the credit card eventually.
Wanda said…
Dustin - WHERE DO YOU LIVE???? I'd like for you to run for my congressman - your comments are so right on and folks, WE ARE AMERICANS - we can do this the right way and be of greater service to our sick and elderly. Due to poor gov't reimbursements, the Mayo Clinic here in Phoenix has stopped accepting Medicare Insurance.

So please Dustin - whatever you do for a living, please consider changing to represent your community in Washington DC. You are spot on. Oh wait, I forgot that reasonable minds are not welcomed inside the beltway.

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