Cancer Treatment Very Expensive How Do People Cope?

Lounge By moreCakePlz Updated 9 Dec 2011 , 11:44pm by terraksmith

moreCakePlz Posted 12 Nov 2011 , 3:29pm
post #1 of 14

Im so sad, Im so heart broken, my little bother (43 years old) was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer on March 23, 2011 (his birthday). He had surgery to remove the mass, but the cancer had already spread to his liver. He has been undergoing chemo but the first 24-week round didnt stop the growth; so he went to MD Anderson in October and they started him on different chemo drugs. Apparently he has a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome that is resistant to normal chemo drugs. MD Anderson said that if the second round of chemo doesnt work they may have some trials that he can participate in.

But all of theses treatments take money, lots and lots of money. He has insurance but he still has to pay deductibles and co-payments every time he goes in for treatments/shots/prescriptions/doctor visits. And MD Anderson is out-of-network so he had to pay a $6,000 deductible and 20% co-pay (plus lodging, travel expenses, etc). So far this year he has spent about $18,000 and he has to pay it all the deductibles again starting Jan 1, 2012! Plus he is not able to work much any more so his income has gone way down.

Thankfully the family has been chipping in to cover all of his expenses, but how do most people handle this situation?

If you dont have the money to pay the co-payments and deductibles are you denied treatment? If your insurance is through your work and you cant work anymore do you lose your insurance????? There was one guy that was going through the same treatments as my brother, but he had to stop because it was making him too sick to work. He is a self-employed electrician and he said if he didnt work he didnt get paid!

Im scared, scared for my brother, his future, his childrens future, and all the people out there that cant afford to get the treatment they need.


PS: everyone go and get a colonoscopy and dont believe doctors when they say you can wait till youre 50. Do it at 40. My 43 year old brother didnt have any symptoms. He went to give blood and he was told he was anemic. He went to his doctor who did a stool test and immediately scheduled a colonoscopy. Go get tested, now!

13 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 12 Nov 2011 , 5:18pm
post #2 of 14

(Mod edited for political content.)

I am so sorry for your brothers illness...Keep your chin up!!My prayers are with you!!

Momofjaic Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 1:41am
post #3 of 14

I'm sorry to hear about your brother. My prayers are with you and your family. As far as your question how do you deal with money issues, there are some nonprofit org. Out there that can help. I had cancer when I was 17 and it came back when I was 18. Fortunately (for me) my parents were the ones that took care of bills and not me. But I do know that they paid my last remanding balance the year I got married (at 21). So I don't think thy will deny treatment.

indydebi Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 5:56am
post #4 of 14

I'm So sorry to hear of your brother. My sister is dying of brain cancer, so I am in your shoes.

She is one of the fortunate ones who has very good insurance. She's had 2 brain surgeries. One was $160,000 and the 2nd was $220,000 (approx numbers ... can't recall exactly but I know it's in those ranges). She has a treatment every month that is $10,000 each; she used to have it twice a month and it's down to once a month. I asked her about deductibles 'n such and her out of pocket has only been $2000 a year.

But it has caused me to stop and think about those who AREN'T as fortunate as her (wow, that's an ironic description considering her condition! icon_cry.gif ). What do they do? How do they deal with it? I can't even begin to imagine.

I will add your brother to our prayers and I will add you, too. It's tough on all of us to watch a family member struggle with this.

moreCakePlz Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 2:21pm
post #5 of 14

indydebi, The scary part is he does have good insurance (not great but good). He has a $1700 yearly deductible and $40 co-pay. But how quickly the co-pays add up is the real shocker. He is paying $360 every two weeks in co-pays (not including prescriptions). He has something done 9 days out of 10, and he pays $40 for every visit. But in defense of the insurance company, each 2-week chemo cycle cost $36,000 so paying just $360 of it is actually pretty good.

I guess????

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers. I really appreciate them.

And Momofjaic I will pray for your continued good health.

Texas_Rose Posted 13 Nov 2011 , 4:27pm
post #6 of 14

I'm so sorry for what your brother's going through, it must be hard on the whole family.

If you're really wondering what people do when they can't afford the medical care, the poorest people can get Medicaid. For people whose medical expenses are so high that paying them puts their income below the poverty line, Medicaid has a medically needy program...I can't remember the exact name of it. There are also county health programs.

That would help with the medical end of things. It wouldn't pay living expenses for someone like the electrician you were talking about. I guess they'd have to try to get social security disability.

If your family is getting to the point where it's difficult to afford your brother's care, you could call 211 to find out if there's any kind of assistance he could get...you would need to know his income for that.

ljhow623 Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 8:47pm
post #7 of 14

I went through this a couple years ago with my husband. First and foremost have our bother check with the the treatment center / doctors for any aid that he may qualify for. Sometime if you talk with the hospitals and doctors they will lower some of your out of pocket cost. I know all to well the copays. One trip to the doctors for chemo,radiation,lab work, and two office visits amounted to 5 copays. NOT fun! As long as you are up front and honest with the billing department they will work with you and try and help.

Good luck and I wish your bother good health.

TheCakerator Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 9:19pm
post #8 of 14

I'm sorry to hear this, about your brother ..

I live with fear like this every day .. I don't have medical insurance myself, we can't afford to pay for it through my husband's work and yet, we are the working class poor who are to rich to qualify for any type of medicaid ..

The fear of getting pregnant and coming out of the hospital with a $50,000 hospital bill attached to that baby makes us shiver as well .. but again, to rich to get medical assistance, to poor to afford it ..

GeminiRJ Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 9:26pm
post #9 of 14

You have my deepest sympathies! This will be a very difficult time for your family. My dad survived 15 months with a very aggressive form of leukemia, and it was incredibly sad. Luckily, he was a veteran and got excellent care thru the VA and did not have to pay for his treatment. They even reimbursed him for travel expenses, as he had to drive 45 minutes to get to the hospital. How the average person handles the cost of such expensive medical care is a mystery to me!

costumeczar Posted 15 Nov 2011 , 12:51am
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljhow623

I went through this a couple years ago with my husband. First and foremost have our bother check with the the treatment center / doctors for any aid that he may qualify for. Sometime if you talk with the hospitals and doctors they will lower some of your out of pocket cost. I know all to well the copays. One trip to the doctors for chemo,radiation,lab work, and two office visits amounted to 5 copays. NOT fun! As long as you are up front and honest with the billing department they will work with you and try and help.

.




That's what I was going to suggest, too. They say that a lof of bankruptcies are the result of medical emergencies, and after seeing the hospital bills for my family's recent health issues I believe it. If your brother gets to the point where he's really having trouble paying for the copys etc, the billing offices at the hospitals are usually very willing to help figure something out.

indydebi Posted 15 Nov 2011 , 1:10am
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljhow623

I went through this a couple years ago with my husband. First and foremost have our bother check with the the treatment center / doctors for any aid that he may qualify for. Sometime if you talk with the hospitals and doctors they will lower some of your out of pocket cost.



Last year, my husband had emergency appendix (sp?) surgery just two weeks before he qualified for medical insurance thru his job. we were hit with over $20,000 in hospital, doctor and surgery bills, with no idea how we were going to handle it.

A co-worker said to call the hospital and explain the situation because they have funds and charities who take care of bills for people who have a hardship case like this. So hubby called. He was told "Don't pay anything and we'll research this for you." He had to fill out a lot of forms, and he called regularly to remind them "I'm not 'not paying' you, but just following up to see where we are."

Well, it was well worth it. He got a call one day that the entire $20,000 bill had been taken care of by this funding and charity money. We ended up just having to pay a couple of thousand for the anethesiologist (sp?) and another small bill related to it.

So call and find out. Our hospital was VERY helpful in walking us thru the process.

Spooky_789 Posted 15 Nov 2011 , 7:01pm
post #12 of 14

I'm sorry about the health issues your brother is having. I think you make a great point that everyone should go in for their wellness visits. Prevention and early detection is the key to successful treatment in many situations.

As far as how to pay for it, if your employer offers you voluntary benefits, such as through Aflac, that includes a cancer policy, I'd highly recommend enrolling in that coverage. You never know when you may need it.

My older sister enrolled in the cancer policy offered through her work. She was able to take the policy with her and continue to pay for it on her own even after she left her employer. Which was a great thing she did as a year or two later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. That policy has helped her to pay her bills and provide money for her ongoing treatment.

jorgea Posted 26 Nov 2011 , 12:29am
post #13 of 14

I think most people can't cope with rising hospital costs.

terraksmith Posted 9 Dec 2011 , 11:44pm
post #14 of 14

I wish we had a better answer for our health system in this country. I have type 1 diabetes and no insuance, i make under $30,000 a year, share custody of my two children but i dont qualify for aid either, medicaid or foodstamps. luckily i am getting samples of the daily insulin i take from my doctor (so far anyway) or i'd be dead within days of not having it because i cant afford it.

i have a friend going thru cancer treatment and he is unable towork and the dr's told him to plan on not returning. he has no family, few friends and now no income. so far his insurance is intact but not for long as the company he is working for is closing their doors soon. dont know what will happen to him then...

we definitely need some type of reform in this country but what that answer is exactly, who knows...

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