Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Price of Healing

This 60 Minutes story came across my feed and it shocked me.  It details the price gouging of cancer patients and how several prominent doctors are fighting back.

I'm impressed with these doctors for standing up for their patients' rights, ethical conduct and common decency, and I hope they're successful in effecting positive change.  However, what struck me most was how incredibly expensive it is to heal from cancer, even conventionally.  

A number of people have told me that while they might be interested in pursuing the type of treatment I received at Angeles Hospital, they felt it would be too cost prohibitive because their insurance wouldn't cover it.  By no means was my treatment protocol cheap, but I was shocked to see how much more many patients apparently pay in a year for their drug therapies, even when they have insurance.

This story underscores yet another reason I'm grateful we were given several options to explore when I was diagnosed.  Every day, I'm reminded that my journey has been a blessing, uncovering hidden truths that surprised me.  For instance: 

  • It's not necessarily more expensive to pursue alternative therapies, or even to leave the country for treatment.  While we assumed we'd be paying a premium to travel for cutting-edge therapies, it turns out the cost of care can actually be much higher right here at home.
  • The average person could never afford to eat an all-organic diet.  Yes, buying organic is more expensive if you're just comparing the cost of conventional vs. organic items.  However, we've found we don't spend that much more because we buy fewer processed food products, eat out less frequently and know we will reap the benefits of fewer doctors' bills in the long run from our healthy lifestyle. 
  •  Paying out-of-pocket to doctors not covered by insurance can break the bank.  I see a number of doctors and practitioners who aren't covered by my insurance, but I've found that I pay the same, and in some cases even less, than what I pay for in-network visits.  In return I receive longer, more in-depth visits with these out-of-network providers.  Further, the cost of any tests ordered is provided up front.  
In my experience, the out-of-pocket costs for my conventional treatment have just been higher on average.  For example:  My thermogram - which can detect cancer 5-9 years before a mammogram using infrared imagery rather than dangerous radiation - was $300 out of pocket.  The mammogram was nearly $1,000 after insurance because I was under 40. 

I'm not saying my path is the right approach for everyone, nor do I think conventional medicine should be avoided. I truly believe healing is a very personal thing and we all need to find the care that best suits our needs and paradigms.  At the end of the day, I just want people to know that they have options and ultimately, for everyone to be able to afford treatment that will extend and improve their quality of life.  

If nothing else, survival shouldn't have to mean bankruptcy.

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