The High Co$t of Cancer

I have been trying to piece together a CAD$ price tag on my cancer treatment since my surgery.  I’ve asked my surgeon, Dr. X,  what my diagnosis and surgery cost.  He threw some numbers around – $1k for the OR for an hour, triple that for the attending staff, the nuclear dyes – but he didn’t have an answer.

Same for my oncologist Dr. F … she couldn’t put a price tag on my treatment.  But she nodded when I quoted the American price.

$500k to $1.5M

In the USA, everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – is barcoded to charge the patient.  You need a bandage?  You pay for it.  A piece of tape?  Same.  CT Scans and MRIs?  Ultrasound?  Medicine?   Lumpectomy?  Mastectomy?  Chemotherapy?  Reconstruction?  Recurrence?  Quarterly checkups to get to 5 years NED (No evidence of disease)?  IV line?  PICC line?  PICC line insertion?  Genetics testing?  Endless blood work?

Sell your house or hope to God you have insurance (and not a pre-existing condition today …)!

I wish our Canadian government could hand us a zero balance invoice at the end of our medical journey.   I’d love to see what my medical costs were.  Would I stop complaining about taxes?

As a Canadian, I just walk into a doctor’s office, hospital etc.  There are no copays.  No premiums (we pay higher taxes which pays for our healthcare).  But it is there when we – and our fellow Canadians – need it.  For the most part.  If you live in a metropolitan area, like I do.

And how can we as Canadians burden the cost of more and more cancer?  Sobering, sobering thought.

Rather educated but unscientific … I estimate the cost to be similar here in Canada.  Factor in lower drug costs and a weak Canadian dollar and it washes out.  At least for the sake of this post.

$500k to $1.5M

The cost rises as the complexities and surgeries rise.  I automatically qualify for reconstruction surgery due to my breast cancer.

I’ve been in the Emergency room for four days.

I’ve been hospitalized for six days in a $425/day private room with around-the-clock care of nursing staff and five doctors.

Blood tests.  CT Scans.  Three ultrasounds.  Mammograms.  MUGA Heart Test.  Bone test.

$15k to $20k in chemo cocktails et al. including that $4200 Neulasta injection.

Neulasta is not “free” with my OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) coverage … My health plan pays most then the manufacturer kicks in the rest to get me to 100% coverage.  I need at least 8 x Neulasta … maybe 16.  That almost $68,000 right there.

Don’t panic (in Ontario) if you can’t cover the Neulasta … OHIP covers Neupogen.  You get 64 or more needles instead of 8!

Under $200 for my before and after chemo drugs but I only pay 10-20% thanks to my medical benefits.

What do you do without medical benefits???

For today – and every day – I am more thankful to be Canadian and for my employer.

And I won’t be complaining.

Gratefully yours,

The Fox

© 2017

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