How Much is Too Much?

What is the cost of cancer care nowadays.  It is rising rapidly.  All too often the medical costs for a patient begin to rampantly explode.  This price of the care rises so fast that the patient and family never seem to see the price.  It is all in a blur.

The rise in cost is escalating over the recent years.  Where can it go?  It is too much for one family to pay.  Too much to expect insrances to pay.  And too much for a government to pay.

“I think it’s time to switch therapies,” I told my patient, as he and his wife sat next to each other by the wall of my exam room. (28)   add

He stared at me, unblinking, through his chipped, wire-rimmed glasses as his wife looked quickly down at the medication list she clutched in her hands. Her worn purse sat on the floor by her chair. “Switching therapies” was a euphemism for “your cancer is progressing,” a point I didn’t need to hammer home with them – they both knew the score. (61)   add

“O.K.” he said, taking a deep breath. “What’s next?” (10)   add

We had been navigating his cancer together for a year-and-a-half, balancing the most effective treatments we could devise with what his health insurance would cover, and what he could afford. The 90-mile drive to Cleveland was itself an economic strain, gas prices being what they were and their aging car becoming increasingly more finicky, particularly during the cold winter months. (60)   add

“The next drug I’d suggest is a pill that you’d take every day. It can get you into a remission, and may even allow you to live a little longer. It’s the one we’ve talked about before,” I told him. He nodded, remembering. (43)   add

“The real expensive drug?” he asked. (6)   add

This time I nodded. When I first suggested he take this pill as part of his chemotherapy regimen, I warned him about the possible cost, as this has become a part of my standard informed consent process. I review potential risks, benefits, alternative medications, the people involved in a patient’s care, and now economic risks. (55)   add

The Punishing Cost of Cancer Care

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