I often tell people I had Cancer Lite. Gun to your head and forced to contract any form of cancer out there, you’d probably go with something similar to what I had. It’s not that I make light of my experience, as certain aspects of it were hell, but all things considered it was a very treatable form with a very high chance of cure / treatment / remission / whatever the hell I’m in now.
I had my old Kindle stolen last October during a particularly drunken escapade in Manhattan. What angered me most wasn’t the $150 cost to replace it but all the articles I was going to lose. There’s a service called Readability that’s downright amazing. You find an article online from a magazine, newspaper, or blog and with a click of a button it strips all the excess crap away from the screen and either lets you read it immediately or sends it to your Kindle for later consumption.
Two weeks ago Steven Brill was a guest on The Daily Show. He’s a journalist who recently wrote a cover story for Time magazine shedding light on the absurd health care costs in our country. My Kindle pegs most articles I read at 15-20 minutes long. This one? Over 90 minutes.
Seriously, you need to read it. The opening paragraphs details Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old man with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who was charged $83,900 for procedures that only cost around $15,000. He paid $1.50 for a single generic Tylenol. It cost him $283 for chest x-rays that Medicare patients get done for $20.44. The list goes on and on (and on and on and on and on.)
The article got me thinking about my own foray into the health care industry. To be completely fair, I had health insurance that didn’t try to screw me, by which I mean they upheld the agreement we made when I read the fine print and signed on the dotted line in 2009. Maybe I lucked out and got one of the good ones, maybe my insanely high yearly deductible was enough to satisfy them, or maybe it’s because they were happy to have an excuse to jack my premiums every year since (which they have.)
In 2010 I discovered the lump, had outpatient surgery to remove it, and there were a few doctor visits before and after both events. In 2011 I had monthly checkups, each taking around 15 minutes of “doctor time,” in addition to standard monthly blood tests, quarterly chest x-rays, and a few CT scans. Those led to discovering the tumors, which led to thirteen weeks of chemotherapy. Although if I recall correctly, I was only in the hospital for a total of 22 sessions, ranging from four to six hours each. In 2012 I was back to periodic exams and basic tests. The cost? Just over $75,000. And it’s not over yet.
Remember, this is “cancer lite” we’re talking about here. It wasn’t non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or even stage III testicular cancer. Had I not had health insurance, I might not be bankrupt, but I’d be seriously fucked financially.
The quality of health care in this country is outstanding. I’m a living testament to it and not many people are trying to argue otherwise. But the health care industry? It’s fucked. It’s beyond fucked. There’s a reason every other industrialized nation in the world, and even half of the third world countries like Cuba, look at what we’ve set up here in the states and shake their heads.
Now how about we do something about it?