The cost of saving a life
Today I researched on the internet the cost of the maintenance drug that I take to help extend the length of my remission. Although I could not find 2017 prices or the price at which the pharmaceutical company had sold the drug to the government in prior years, I did find lots of prices for the drug sold to individuals or non-federal healthcare providers in prior years. A reasonable estimate is that my monthly maintenance dose costs approximately $15,000.
When that cost is combined with other treatment and healthcare that I have received because of having cancer, in the eight months since being diagnosed with cancer my care has cost more than $200,000. Ongoing care in years while I remain in remission plus additional costs related to forcing the cancer into remission a second and perhaps third time could easily drive the total cost of treating my cancer to well over one million dollars.
Few Americans can afford to pay one million dollars to treat a catastrophic illness.
On the other hand, few Americans would opt to refuse treatment to a person who suffers from the type of cancer that I have who cannot pay for treatment when the person can reasonably expect to enjoy several or more years of healthy, productive life.
The best way forward in dealing with the cost of catastrophic illness is for the US to implement single payer, universal healthcare. The single payer would be the federal government. Universal access means that everyone would have access.
Half of all persons employed in the healthcare industry, which is 20% of the US Gross Domestic Product, are not healthcare providers but administrative, etc. A quarter of healthcare costs is attributable to billing and associated costs. Eliminating private payers would shutter the immensely profitable private health insurance corporations, but would concurrently generate tremendous savings in healthcare related costs for the entire nation.
Two examples of a single payer system – with the federal government as that single payer – already exist in the US, though both systems limit access. The first is Medicare, available to everyone over 65 and the lowest cost provider of healthcare. The second is the military healthcare system, available to active duty and retired military personnel and their families.
Congress should replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with a single payer system that provides universal access.