Delaying treatment or bankruptcy: Some choice!

Long gone are the days of doctors making house calls. So, too, it appears are the days of affordable healthcare. Today, even with the passage of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it’s known, many people still go without health insurance.

They can’t afford it. Or, the only thing they can afford, barely, is catastropic coverage. Some deal that is when one’s deductible is raised to $10,000!

Now, granted, a great many more people have been insured because of Obamacare. Yet, a significant number are not, and that has the potential for trouble.

In a recent Houston Chronicle story, the author pointed out that many uninsured often delay getting treatment.

“Delaying treatment for a primary health care issue such as diabetes or hypertension can quickly and tragically move from a relatively low-cost treatment through medication and lifestyle change to a life-threatening health crisis that can bankrupt an entire family,” said Jose E. Camacho, executive director and general counsel for the Texas Association of Community Health Centers.

Texas continues to lead the nation in the number of uninsured. A recent Gallup poll showed it was the only state remaining with more than 20 percent uninsured.

Way to go, Texas! Paying attention, Austin (didn’t think so)?

This state also has one of the highest rates in the nation of people skipping treatment. Hmmmm, wonder why?

Even with health insurance, prescription medicine continues to climb and there doesn’t seem to be a ceiling in sight anytime soon. Something has to be done.

In a recent poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, 72 percent said the cost of prescription medicine is unreasonable. An overwhelming majority support requiring pharmaceutical firms to reveal how they set prices, limiting what drug companies can charge for medications to treat serious illnesses, and allowing consumers to acquire prescriptions filled by pharmacies in Canada.

New drug costs continue to escalate beyond reason (to a sane person, that is). Consider a $1,000 pill for hepatitis C. One of the clinical trial drugs I’ve taken for Leukemia, Imbruvica, for example, is valued at about $22,000 for a months supply.

Now, once it’s fully endorsed by the FDA for public consumption, Lord knows what will happen to the cost. Were it not for my clinical trial, even with insurance I doubt seriously if I could have afforded it. It did work and work well for me, thank God.

But, where will all this stop? How many people will have to die because they couldn’t afford the medication, because they couldn’t afford health insurance?

Is it any wonder, then, that unpaid medical bills, for example, remain the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy in this country? Granted, bankruptcy would be a better choice than death (it’s not permanent), but, sheesh, some choice.

When I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) last year, I did not have health insurance. My wife, Pam, did at work but I was not on her plan. I was told flat out to get something; if not, it was a matter of time before I’d be looking at personal bankruptcy and/or a very shortened life span.

Wonderful #%&*@! options.

I didn’t even have Medicaid and I wouldn’t qualify for Medicare (yet). Still, these spiraling-out-of-control costs are breaking our healthcare system.

In a recent New York Times piece, Medicare agreed to additional payments for a new Leukemia treatment, Blincyto, which costs about $178,000. However, Medicare’s agreement to pay for the new anti-cancer drug didn’t come without a lot of stubborn kicking and screaming. But, to their credit, they opted in.

Fortunately, we do have multiple resources available to us. We just need to know where to look and who to ask. Just about every disease known to man has a national association working on finding cures. Locate yours and learn the options.

In addition to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), I learned of the Dream Fund, a charitable organization formed to help those in the advertising and media industries. Both have been a God-send for me.

Don’t give up. Research your options. Ask around. People will help.

Delaying treatment or declaring bankruptcy . . . is no choice. There are options.

Find yours.



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