June 14th, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Cancer survivors skipping medical care

By Trisha Henry
CNN Medical Producer

Cancer survivors are more likely to forgo or delay medical treatment because of health care costs, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer.

Even though it puts their long-term health and well-being at risk, "two million U.S. cancer survivors did not get one or more medical services because of financial concerns,"  says study author Dr. Kathryn Weaver of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. In general, she says, cancer survivors under the age of 65 were almost twice as likely to delay or forgo all types of care, compared with adults with no cancer history in the same age group.

Hispanic cancer survivors were most likely to skip treatment according to the study.  Hispanic and African American cancer survivors were more likely than whites to leave prescriptions unfilled or to forgo needed dental care.

"It reflects differences in insurance coverage in our country," Weaver says.     "The people over 65 are often covered by Medicare and have more consistent insurance coverage." But she says even people under 65 who had insurance coverage, would sometimes fail to seek treatment when they needed it.

7.8 percent of the cancer survivors in the study say they didn't get the medical care they needed. When researchers also considered prescriptions and dental and mental care, the rate went up to 17.6 percent.

The study involved more than 6,000 adult cancer survivors nine years after diagnosis and 100,000  people with no history of cancer. Participants were asked to self-report if there was a time they needed medical care within the last year when they didn't get it because of cost concerns. The study did not specifically ask what type of care the patients did not get.  "It's hard to say what it was about having cancer led to this," Weaver says. "We have known that cancer can have a negative impact on financial health. There are also employment differences that persist after diagnosis."

Because of their experience, Weaver says,  cancer survivors may have a more heightened sense of health and vulnerability and they might be more aware of symptoms indicating something more serious. She says they may perceive they need more care than the typical person, which may present more opportunities for financial fears to interfere with them getting the care they need.

Information for cancer survivors who may need help with medical expenses can be found here.

CNN Producer Sabriya Rice contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Robert Meek

    Medicare for tests, treatments, runs a basic 80/20 plan after a $155.00 deductible.

    One of our local hospitals demands their 20% in full up front, and outright tells you that they will not do that outpatient CT Scan you need, unless you fork up the 20% first.

    Even going in for elective outpatient surgery, they ask for their 20% up front.

    Never mind that the person is still struggling, financially, disabled, on Medicare, coping with the "donut hole" for insulins and breathing medications, having to pay taxes, mortgage payments, all out of Social Security.

    If I were having to face Radiation or Chemo, the way they demand that 20% up front, I would have to forgo as well.

    June 14, 2010 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Katie

    This is article hits home for me. I am unemployed, and just found out I may have cancer. I am trying to keep a brave face. I am thankful though to those in the medical system who are doing all they can to help me while I am going through this. However, they have to eat too, so I can understand the need to be paid. It is just difficult to get through this while you are trying to get back on your feet. Hopefully this article and others like it will shed light on the concerns with inadequate health care for those who are vulnerable.

    June 14, 2010 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Gary Palmer

    This should not be either surprising or upsetting. We can't afford all care to all people and never will. No country does. Health care is a consumable. We should be sure a basic level is available, but if patients want a "Cadillac" follow-up program, they will need to pay for it. Many , quite frankly, will do fine with a "Chevy". It is similar to those who could only afford a small Chevy and died in a crash where an Escalade would have prevented it. They still have a decent car, get to work, and generally do fine. We must control costs in health care and consumer ability to forego some care due to cost is actually a good thing, one could argue.

    June 14, 2010 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jason B.

    Don't blame the patients...blame insurance companies. "No, we won't pay for the good chemo. Just stand next to an open microwave oven." "No, we won't pay to help prevent your disease from worsening, but once you're deathly ill then we might start paying." "You see, back in 1976 you stood next to a guy who was smoking...so your cancer is what we call a pre-existing condition, which we don't cover."

    June 14, 2010 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. John

    As a bowel cancer survivor I am so glad I reside in Ireland. Since my treatment has stopped and as I carry on with two pouches attached to my side, I don't worry about medical expenses. Having our medical care system here in Ireland my can focus on getting better and stronger. As an American living abroad I've come to appreciate how medical systems work outside the USA. Money should not be a barrier to good health. Dying broke is nothing to boast about.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. demonfeed

    "Cancer survivors may have a more heightened sense of health and vulnerability and they might be more aware of symptoms indicating something more serious?"

    We know LESS than 1% of how the human brain works, and even less about the human body, and the MEDICAL community is going to throw out a statement like that?

    What it says to me, is, "We won't help you if you can't afford treatment, but if your poor, maybe you can pretend you have a hidden superpower that can keep you from getting sick!"

    June 14, 2010 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathy

      Actually, that statement just means aches and pains of people who haven't had something as big a deal as cancer might not cause them to worry about massive medical bills. Once you've had a devastating diagnosis after experiencing a few pains, you've seen the huge costs involved. Every ache and odd feeling might raise another fear of cancer instead of something more basic, such as arthritis. Many people have the perception that if they ignore something, it will go away... as will the threat of bills. Not an ignorant thing, of course- just a way of trying to avoid more emotional trauma.

      The person with hip pain, but no previous cancer diagnosis, might be more likely to get checked than the cancer survivor who fears acknowledging (and paying for) a recurrence/metastasis.

      June 29, 2010 at 19:05 | Report abuse |
  7. Dr Bill Toth

    Or maybe they are more aware that healing only comes from within. That doctors are, at best, coaches and ultimately each person is responsible for his/her health. And each person is an experiment of one.
    Live with Intention,
    Dr Bill Toth, retired

    June 14, 2010 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Diana360

    I am a 3 year out cancer survivor and while I have insurance through my job, I too skip medical treatment for the following reasons:
    I will not, under any circumstances, drive my family into bankruptcy over my medical care and forfeit my children's standard of living.
    Many medical treatments are, I feel, unnecessary and are mainly to make money for my physician or the hospital. I do not require a CT scan every six months. My cancer was stage 0b and was treated successfully. A CT scan every 6 months irradiates me and puts me at a higher risk for getting cancer again.
    No....... I can see why people, like myself, forgo follow-up care. Much of it is unneccessary, expensive, takes time away from work and depletes emotional, physical and financial reserves.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • juanita smith

      i understand! i don't take med's or go to doc's because of the bills. it takes everything to paid the household bills. spouse lost job due to no work orders. found job less pay no insurance, but to much to get help with medical of food. we now no what it is like to not hot have milk to drink or butter for the bread. you cut back to there is no more pennies to cut back. and our govt'm don't care.

      November 11, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
  9. M Garza

    Way to go USA!!!! You did it again!!! We all wonder why?

    Cost? what's that? who cares? I have a tip for ALL US citizens. Next time you need medical attention and don't have money go to the hospital, simply say your from Mexico and do not provide any documents. It will be 100% FREE. The word the illegals are used to and love.

    Question to Obama: How can it be that illegals are getting free medical treatment and US citizens have to pay or else get ruined by credit agencies????

    June 14, 2010 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathy

      Sighh... don't be ignorant. Any schmoe can get free treatment by going to the hospital and providing false info in the ER, then claiming to have no identification on hand. I've known of plenty of Americans who have done something as dishonest as that. When the bill is sent out... yeah, wrong address and no way to track them unless they return and are recognized.

      (I don't recommend that for more than just reasons of fraud- it also screws with the docs' ability to coordinate your medical care.)

      June 29, 2010 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
    • BEA

      I hope you get a heart someday, or else experience what a migrant has to go through to even get to the USA. Think "Free trade" and think global, get a sense of history and then talk. Your hatred has to do with your ignorance about how you get to stand where you're standing.

      July 2, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
  10. oxbobend

    You don't think it would have to do with anything to do with the treatment itself, do you?

    June 14, 2010 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Fran

    I am a cancer surviror myself and have been unable to get any medical treatment for the last 10 months due to lost of medical insurance because of emplyment. I was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer 3 years ago, had the surgery (it was in the tail part) had 6 months of Chemo and about 33 treatments of radiation as a precausion. Thank goodness for the following two years after that I had a CAT Scan every 6 months and was clear of everything, but that was it and just praying everyday that I will be ok, but who knows.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Marian T.

    I am a cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with early stage Uterine Cancer and subsequently had a radical and total hysterectomy. I went to one follow up visit and skipped all of the rest. The reason is NOT that I don't have insurance, it is that Cancer is BIG business for these docs, they won't stop treatment until your dead of Chemo poisoning. I choose to die the old fashion way if the good Lord wants me, not by the hand of some money hungry Oncologist.
    This is my choice and my point of view, please continue treatment if you are sick, but be a active participant in your health care, not a lab rat.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ballz

    Another tribute to the failing health insurance issues in America. I hope we get it fixed before its really too late to make effective change in the system.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lon Crouch

    As a long-term survivor (33 years!) of Stage IV non Hodgkins Lymphoma I skip virtually all dental care (including routine cleanings) not for insurance reasons but because i'm scared to death of dentists. Way too many negative experiences with "the chair"!

    June 14, 2010 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. WausauFamily

    "Cancer survivors are more likely to forgo or delay medical treatment because of health care costs." This is so wrong and so true!

    June 14, 2010 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. guest

    A very true article.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Cathy E

    My sister is 52 years old and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after she tweaked her back at work. She has no insurance, and SS will not kick in for her until mid-September. Her husband cannot work because he has to be home to take care of her. After spending 6 weeks in the hospital, uninsured, 3 rounds of chemo, having a T10 fracture, 5 fractured ribs and a hip broken when she was rolled over in bed, she has decided to forgo anymore chemo because her quality of life is more important to her than quantity. Meanwhile, she has hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills that she cannot pay.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. bill

    The cost of hospitals and other expenses forces you to make a choice.
    Life with bills you can never repay or the peace of death. Age is a factor.
    A young person wants to live, an older person wants peace, the choices are not hard to make.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Barbara Reitz

    Can you blame them? Health ins. coverage in this country is a crap shoot. Have this plan and you're covered... this one..no. Also, most plans have the patient paying 10% or 20% if the treatment. For many that cost can be staggering. Your health is important, but at what cost... if you're left bankrupt and lose your home. When will people realize that Insurance companies are not interested in affordable health care.... only profitable health care. Ever wonder how much these treatments would cost if the middle man was eliminated. Also, many doctors, including cancer specialists are not participating in health plans so you have to pay them up front. So in addition to the premiums you're already paying... now you have to fork over $5,000-$10,000 for a procedure. Also, some cancer medications are not covered by ins. I had a friend who had a form of blood cancer and their was a "new" medicine she could try, but it was yet approved for her type of cancer. It would have cost her $1,800 a month, which she could not afford. She died.

    June 14, 2010 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. oncologist

    Irresponsible journalism! The implication is that denial-of-treatment=survivorship? Certainly, if one were dealing with most skin cancers, time means little. Try surviving ovarian cancer without therapy? This is bad science and bad journalism, both of which are dangerous

    June 14, 2010 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. GL

    No need to complain becasue whte President Obama tried to offer the Public Opition plan you American people rejected it. So we get what we desire which is continu to let the Health Insuracne benefit big time from our money. Health Care Reform with out the Public Opition is NOT REFORM!

    June 14, 2010 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. steven pingitore sr

    i am a 2 year survior, i have not been able to see if its coming back either,, i now have a lump growing on my stomach,, i had lymphoma , nonhodgkens, and went threw 66 hours of chemo, but was never able to go for radiation, i did have a pet scan after chemo and they said it looked good, havent been able to work since, no one wants to hire someone who is on day to day basis on the way they feel, i just keep thinking of my 10 and 8 year old boys, and try to keep the faith,, hope fully it doesnt come back to get me, always scared

    June 14, 2010 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Barbara Davis

    As a 9-yr cancer survivor, my attitude towards my health and treatment is complicated. Going to a doctor used to mean someone making me better and getting on with a busy life, until I got the worst news of my life. Now I am reluctant to go to a doctor unless absolutely necessary because I don't want to hear that again, resulting in probably a rather neglectful attitude that may be difficult to understand. However, I believe this is not uncommon for cancer survivors. From the financial point of view, I also know that because of my cancer history, relatively common and benign symptoms may trigger a cascade of expensive investigations. So on all fronts I am internally cautioned to wait.. just... a... little... longer.....

    June 14, 2010 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. susan

    i have had breast cancer and this is my third year after surgery. my husband's on medicare but i'm only 55. i'm scared to death that i will have a reacurrance. since i have no insurance. i don't go to the docter like i should because of the cost. and my doctor doesn't send me for test because he knows i don't have insurance. so what am i to do?

    June 14, 2010 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Kathie

    I recently had surgery for cancer. My first thought was how am I going to pay for this not will I survive. I knew 6 months ago that something was wrong but worried how I would pay for this with a $5000.00 deductible and restrictions where I went for surgery and treatment. Health care as we have it now is not an option. I want the same health care our elected politions are getting.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Joe Regester

    I am a Cancer surgery survivor but cant afford the follow-up treatments. My bladder cancer is likely to return in the future but I may not know until its Stage 4. I have adjusted my diet to include large amount of antioxidants daily that I pray will help me.

    The clinic/hospital seems uncaring now.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. NA

    June 14th, 2010 08:12 ET

    Way to go USA!!!! You did it again!!! We all wonder why?

    Cost? what's that? who cares? I have a tip for ALL US citizens. Next time you need medical attention and don't have money go to the hospital, simply say your from Mexico and do not provide any documents. It will be 100% FREE. The word the illegals are used to and love.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Jim F.

    This article is rediculous. The authors should be put out of business.

    How many people "can't afford medical bills", but can afford cell phones, cable tv, internet? They can also spend a lot of money eat out. It's a need versus a want. They need medical care, but want something else.

    For those of you who claim to know about insurance companies, think again. Yes, the marjority are for profit, and their profit margins are maybe 3%. If you don't truely know how the system works, then stop talking.

    The system all around needs to be fixed. How can someone who doesn't watch their weight, smokes, and doesn't control their diabetes be able to pay the same as someone who has those conditions, but manages them? There needs to be some personal accountability. Until you address the issues underlying the need for healthcare utilization, you won't control costs.

    Basic Economics. You can't control costs without controlling rates and utilization. Neither side in the US is trying to do either, so it will fail. A single payor system won't solve the issue, just increase taxes and have teh government controlling what is covered and what isn't, instead of the insurance companies.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jennifer

      That is a load of bunk..... I cannot believe someone could be so ignorant while the CEOs of various health insurance companies make in the millions are you a moron??????? My husband and I bothare in our early thirties and were both diagnosed with cancer within months of eachother. I am an educator and pay 900.00 a month for our insurance and it covers minimal care. I am so fed up with people who chose to exist in their own bubble.....WAKE UP!!!!! If it doesn't affect you it must only happen to those who deserve it.......if that was the case we would no longer need prisons and by the way most prisoners get better health care than most Americans!

      October 3, 2010 at 00:02 | Report abuse |
  29. Kate

    Look at the comments from the cancer survivors. It's not the $$ or insurance that is the problem–it's their attitude. They feel that they have beat the cancer enough. They feel that the follow-up is to make the hospitals $$.

    The poll is not asking the right questions, so it isn't valid.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Michael

    January a year ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. They wanted to remove it but because of the medical expenses I have not had nto will I be able to afford medical treatment. I but my own health insurance at $570 per month. My deducable is $6000 and I have to pay for my own office visits. I'm not sure how we got to this point but it is quite sad. In our local newspapers I see many letter written where they claiom that health care is a previlage not a right. I pity those narrow minded, slef-serving individuals. They are on my prayer list, as will all these individuals whose comments I have read. It's a sad time in our country's history. If you cannot afford medical treatments, then you have to roll the dice, like we are. May God bless us all and have mercy on those who feel we are not privileged.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Drimion

    I'm a cancer survivor and this is sudden news???? No Insurance wants a high liability and most of the white race get a higher pay anyway compared to the minority, of course they are going to afford health care. I'd rather focus the best way I can and make priceless memories with loved ones and pass the saving to them. Screw this societal grid that plugs into every orifice of your body to get money until you die. It's all ridiculous. If they had to approve special health care for cancer survivor, it would have to be a bill; of course the bill would have to cover every person of importance to make sure they get their money pumps plugged in along with lots of money lobbying. Oh the process on how to manipulate things so that it seems different but it's still the same. No thanks! I'll take whatever my job has to offer if it's affordable.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. mano

    Father over 65 with cancer, has insurance and medicare, and STILL gets billed on top of that. Good luck for anyone without insurance. The chemo costs over twice what the house I'm living in is worth. It's a national DISGRACE. Any medical industry executive driving around in a ferrari should do the world a favor and drive it right off a bridge.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Gary W. Dozier

    In May, 2008, I was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer 5 months on a new job forced out of retirement by a vicious, financially devastating divorce. My doctor, God bless him, recommended that I have further tests to confirm that nothing else was wrong. There was something else wrong: I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. About six months before that diagnosis I had been diagnosed with a gall bladder chock full of stones. It was removed laparoscopically ten days after I had received the first word of my impending divorce. I had just turned 61. Several life-altering events in one fell swoop. In the spring of 2008 I began chemotherapy and radiation treatments. My cancer, of which I have a full-color photograph, was diagnosed as a stage 2A, a bit less than half-way to stage 4, the last stage. In October, 2008, I was CT scanned to determine whether the treatment worked. It had; no cancer was detected. In spite of that success, it was highly recommended by all my doctors that I have my esophagus removed to assure me of the greatest potential for “curing” me of this cancer. I had my esophagus removed, with a biopsy showing no cancer in the tissue, then began 6 months of recovery at home.
    My daily routine was waking up from a restless, sketchy sleep, going to the bathroom, walking gingerly to my living room chair, returning to bed and starting that whole routine over and over again. At night I would hook up a pump to a j-tube into my abdomen where I would receive nutritional supplements because I was unable to consume traditional food by mouth – until the incisions healed. As a result of a strong recommendation from a doctor, I began taking a mild anti-depressant, although I had been very reluctant to do so. It was wise that I did. There had been several mornings when I awoke feeling as if it didn’t matter if I lived or I died.

    The three six-month interval CT-scans I have had since the surgery indicate absolutely no cancer, but there is NO GUARANTEE that I don’t have rogue cancer cells roaming around inside me looking’ for a home. I hope not! But meanwhile, because of the combined restructuring of my throat-stomach connection and the direct connection from my liver to my small intestines, I have had a series of complications since the surgery that have left me with occasional retching, nausea and forceful diarrhea. I have been learning how to cope with all that, and the situating is improving, but it persists.
    The one situation that is not really improving is the ever-increasing medical bills. Every six months the CT scans cost nearly $7 thousand, and ancillary medical costs have continued to mount. Although I have medical insurance through my employer (for which I have been most grateful) I am still overwhelmed with expenses that far exceed my gross income for the next three years! I have had to pare down personal expenses to nearly the barest minimums. I have trimmed grocery costs and household expenses. I have had to establish payment plans with my credit card accounts. I have begun to trim medical expenses by attempting to find alternative paths to the same treatment without the ever-accumulating significant costs of traditional medical treatment.
    I am grateful to be alive. I am still here for a reason. I am trying to determine that reason and reach out to others, giving what is in my heart and my mind because I certainly cannot give what is (missing) in my wallet. I have had my journey to finish my M.Ed. interrupted several times, but I want to finish it this year so that I can teach in college, sharing my knowledge with other adults – and continuing to learn from them – as I continue my journey in this life. I am hoping that someday before I leave this earth I can complete payment of my bills and take a mini-vacation to enjoy what is left of my life, rather than continue to be negatively impacted by expenses that are deemed necessary.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Mark

    Well depending on the type of cancer this is not really that bad of news. Recurrent lung, brain, colon, some breast, head and neck.....are all incurable if they come back. So if they don't follow up what does it really matter? There are plenty of studies that show imaging a blood work in follow up does NOT increase survival. People need to get educated before they comment.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Christina Rama

    I see a lot of hostility toward physicians in these posts, and I cannot fathom why. We are on YOUR side. The majority of physicians want better health care for all, and fight with insurance companies every day to get needed tests covered. We are not reimbursed for the time we spend, every day, filling out burdensome forms, claims and arguing with a non-medical insurance gate keeper... as to why a specific test is needed. Most of us graduate from medical school in deep debt from financing our educations. I owe $150,000 in school loans. While most physicians make a very comfortable wage, many physicians have been forced out of business because they have to see more patients to simply cover their office overhead. I personally know many oncologists, who are compassionate and wonderful physicians. They work 60-80 hours a week on average. They offer patient's the options available to treat a cancer, but do not advocate one course of therapy over another. If you want to get angry at someone, get angry at the big pharmaceutical companies who charge exorbitant prices for the chemotherapeutics. Or opt out. Health care is not free. I pay for my health care insurance, and I too, paid 20% of my treatment costs when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It never once occurred to me that my oncologist's were trying to make an extra buck on my diagnosis by offering me unnecessary treatments. If people really lack that much trust in their physicians, perhaps they should find a physician they CAN trust...

    June 14, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Canadian T

    A good point is made by Gary Palmer – in Canada, we get Chevy service, and thats all right with us. No one has to worry about their medical bills while they're worried about their health.

    Just recently, I was riding my bike and was hit by a car. 911 was called, ambulance, fire, police, put on a backboard and neckbrace, X-rays, exams, drugs, follow-ups with the fracture clinic, etc. I was in the emergency dept. for over 5 hours. My cost – $45.00 for the ambulance ride, which will be covered by my private insurance through work.

    Sometimes we need to wait – that's true. But those who are waiting are those who are not in dire straits. If you are in urgent need of medical attention, be it an accident or cancer, you will be seen quickly

    June 14, 2010 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. scottowego

    This fits me to a "T". 56 years old. Unemployed. Had a bump checked out and it's lymphoma. Over six hundred dollars just for the doctors and the biopsy. They want to do a bone marrow test and a Cat Scan. Cost just for those two tests would be around six thousand and that's not even counting the treatments. Needless to say I can't go spending that money and keep my roof over my head so I'm putting it off. I've got Blue Cross insurance too but the deductible is three grand.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Mary

    I have had cancer 3 times and have been diabetic now for a year. I do have insureance although after paying almost $700 a month for it, I have a $2,500 deductible. My physicals (one a year) are suppose to be covered. Well last physical I had in March..... and of course I got the entire bill including lab work as the claim was denied by my insurance because of "pre-existing condition". I had to make at least 7 calls screaming this was a ROUTINE PHYSICAL!!! After two months and talking to God knows how many people I was informed they would have coded it as a Physical but my doctor asked me about my diabetes which then made it a "Office Visit" to which I had to pay because of my deductible. I was told in March the doctor wanted to see me in 3 months (which was last week) I cancelled the appointment as I could not afford another trip into the doctor and lab work. I see it as a complete failure on the part of the insurance companies as well as the health care facilities that do not process paperwork correctly and will fight tooth and nail to make sure you pay and not the insurance.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Russ

    Gary Palmer wrote: "We can't afford all care to all people and never will. No country does."

    Wrong Gary. Canada does and so do many other industrialized countries. There may be waits for some elective surgeries but urgent medical needs are treated rapidly and there is good followup. I speak from experience here in Canada.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Carla

    Glioma survivor- 3 years post diagnosis...no surgery...no chemo...no radiation and sure as hell no every 3 month MRI's (disrupting the body's entire magnetic field)... To put things in perspective Richard Novak and Ted Kennedy both were diagnosed after I was and both of them probably had the best healthcare money could buy...they are also BOTH dead now. I still enjoy life...my husband....my children and grandchildren...gardening...cooking with assist...reading and writing...and traveling...I agree with D-360...why bankrupt my family and have no quality of life...and die sick anyway...Repeatedly asked why I am NOT FIGHTING...I just smile and tell them I am fighting by not fighting...kind of a Ghandi approach.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. MAI

    I have to agree with Marian T. " I choose to die the old fashion way if the good Lord wants me, not by the hand of some money hungry Oncologist." I had a growth in my colon, surgery and then the drs. wanted me to go for chemo for 6 months. I saw what chemo did to my sister-in-law. It killed her at a young age. For me, I changed my primary dr. to a dr who is an osteopath, changed my diet, and get more exercise. So far 2 years cancer free. But again, this is what I chose. It's not for everyone.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Leo

    The fact is that as long as hospitals and insurance companies in this nation are "for-profit," human health and well-being is going to continue to suffer horribly.

    Now, please not – "for profit" doesn't refer to the money made by the doctors and nurses and other support staff. Oh no – I'm talking about the VAST amounts of money leeched by the boards of trustees, CEO's, shareholders, insurance gustapos, and people who make NO real contribution to health.

    Before anyone gets upset, please note – I'm absolutely in favor of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers making a GOOD salary. They go through intense education courses, pay insane amounts of tuition, and dedicate long hours to their patients. And then, in our wonderful, messed-up system, they also waste long hours fighting with insurance companies to get them to cover their patients' life-saving treatments.

    Pay the doctors. Pay the nurses. Pay the medical technologists, physicians' assistants, phlebotomists, and all the other support staff. And then take the money-grubbing, heartless, lecherous insurance companies and investors and kick them to the curb. A for-profit health care system isn't good for anyone's health.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. DW

    I wonder if they outlawed health insurance coverage in the USA, if the price of health care would decrease. The rule of supply and demand should come into play when people can no longer afford to get health care. Anyone want to comment on this thought?

    June 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Linda

    I was diagnosed at 32 with cancer, did chemo/radiation and am now an 8 year survivor. Cancer care is great for the first 5 years – I was going to my oncologist. After that 5 years, my oncologist say ok back to your family doctor. My yearly checkups are nothing like I would like to have as a survivor. I have insurance and I expect any doctor I go to to be a proactive as I am about keeping this disease away. I don't think family doctors are prepared for survivor care.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Becca

    Another sad example of the inability to provide health care for all without a dollar bill attached. Shameful.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Blond1

    Don't fear cancer. Fear the medical establishment, and trust the Lord!

    June 14, 2010 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. marilyn

    I am a cancer survivor and this article is actually right. I can not afford follow up care, am particular about which prescriptions I fill and have not been to a dentist in 5 years. Even with insurance cancer care wiped out my savings. When I did go to the doctor recently it cost me $20 co-pay plus a $143.00 doctor visit. If I would get cancer again, I would not be able to afford to get treatments again and as I said I have Health insurance.

    June 14, 2010 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. John

    I have had cancer in the past and cannot afford to go for checkups.
    I do have employer insurance, and a graduate degree. I state this
    because financial issues faces most people and it is draining me.

    Best Regards

    June 14, 2010 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. april

    I've been saying this for years, but, I'll say it again. The problem with health care in this country is one of Anti-trust. The emergency room charged me $500 for a shot of novacain but charged my insurance company $80. the Orthopedic center charged me $1475 dollars for an MRI of my knee, but charged my insurance company only $475. The provider called it a "discount." Obviously, the provider charges the individual patient WAY more than their service is worth. i have spent many thousands of dollars on insurance premiums. If it wasn't for the incredible mark-up, I could have saved the insurance premiums and just paid for the service myself. I really believe that medical providers drive up costs to keep insurance companies in business.

    June 14, 2010 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Russ

    Canada's system is a health system, not a product to be exploited by greedy insurance companies. You never hear term "pre-existing condition" used in the American financial context. People do not go bankrupt because they needed medical treatment nor are they turned away because of their financial status. They are covered regardless of who they work for or if they work at all. Having a system like this ensures that Canadians have good quality medical service, a longer and higher quality life expectancy and better productivity.

    Note to Americans: as long as you treat medical care as a "for-profit" enterprise, the vast majority of you will receive inadequate, over-priced medical treatment.

    June 14, 2010 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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