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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. Dan

    I wonder if any correlation to the current economy was even questioned in this. Cancer survivors didn't seek dental care? Even with insurance dental care is expensive. But I don't think the core of what they were trying to study was even touched on here. Do cancer survivors not seek additional medical attention. Cost is the excuse. We're damned afraid that anything that might be wrong with us will be related and we'll have to go through hell again. The longer we can put off simple issues, hoping and praying that they are truly simple, mentally and emotionally we are better off. Yes, moneywise as well...

    June 14, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Cancer survivor

    I just completed surgery, radiation therapy, and physical therapy for removal of a muscle tissue sarcoma (that is a cancer). I have a $10,000 deductible, $5000 co-pay, and my BCBS monthly rate is now tripling for this lousy coverage. To the person in California, no I cannot get free treatment. You read the law incorrectly. You can only get some emergency care (i.e., if I go to the hospital dying, they can't turn me away).
    This system sucks, and I firmly believe from my experience that doctors are in cahoots with the insurers.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sonya

    With aging parents, I began to panic at the thought that if they don't have enough insurance, how will they get the care they need?

    It's incomprehensible to think that you have to be able to buy efficient and competent healthcare, and if you're poor, tough cookies!

    Everyone should be entitled access to healthcare, just like food and water. Otherwise, it's barbarism.

    It made be both mad and depressed. Thankfully, Medicare and Medicaid helped them both.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Pam

    According to the Republican party, if you cannot afford health care, you do not deserve healh care.

    This is exactly what the healthcare debates were about!!!

    June 14, 2010 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Holly

    I was a stage 4 cancer survivor but after two years it came back and went to tmy brain and I had a stroke and i've got extra fluid in my brain. the hospital gave me the ct scan free but for the most part, I haven't been able to do follow ups because of the costs. I have no more insurance, I can't find a job. and i refuse anymore chemo or radiation. the chemo gave me memory loss and the radiation gave me 3rd degree burns from my neck to my waste.
    i had insurance for the time i was undergoing treatments but when i got done, they dropped me.so i couldn't afford the follow up care and i lost my job.nobody wants to hire someone with cancer or who has had cancer. I speak english and am american and my family has been here since 1630.
    and paid my taxes but i still can't even get food stamps bcause i'm white, single and have no children.
    I would probably have more rights in mexico than i do here.
    i was supposed to have been dead 6 mos ago but i'm still here, no pain meds, no help to sleep, nothing.
    I drink raw veggie juice and raw fruit juice and that's probably the only thing keeping me alive but if the fda finds out, they will probably stop people from drinking salads and fruit!

    June 14, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Failedsociety

    We don't need better insurance or to be forced to buy insurance. doctors and hospitals need to lower prices. We need price controls. it is the same argument with real estate every one was buying homes because there was low interest rates not a low sticker price. What .we are all going to buy high priced medical care just because we have great insurance. It wont last ,just like the real estate bubble.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Robert L

    One writer says..."We must control costs in health care, and consumer ability to forego some care due to cost is actually a good thin...." I agree. In the whole health care debate, we're looking for who will pay the tab, rather than how much does this cost, is it worth the price (benefit), and what are the alternatives. If Medicare or the employer plan keeps paying, no one will ask the hard questions, except maybe those on the economic & coverage fringes (per the article).

    June 14, 2010 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ryan

    you eventually leave your family broke.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. bbal

    The other countries that have "free" medical care have high taxes to cover it. As an earlier poster alluded to, GB has a 10% tax on top of income tax for healthcare. Is evereyone in the U.S. willing to pay this? Let's put your money where your mouth is everyone!

    June 14, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Angela

    How about a story about people who have successfully used non-traditional cancer treatments?

    June 14, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. sara

    I'd skip cancer treatment too since it's so expensive. Plus they put mustard gas in chemotherapy drugs. Gerson method all the way. If I die, at least i'd die happy eating what I loved and not by chemicals.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. LMC

    Not surprisingly, the people in Congress who are against universal health care have great health care themselves, so why should they be worried? I wonder how many people without health care coverage were against the health care legislation? I feel it is a great embarassment to our nation that we don't provide the care that people enjoy in other countries. The reason? Insurance and health care lobbies!!!!

    June 14, 2010 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Susan R. Rabinowitz

    What would YOU do if you were diagnosed with cancer and had no means of paying for the treatment? It happened to me while my husband and I were unemployed. It can happen to anyone. You may feel secure in your job with good medical insurance but nothing is guaranteed.
    Medical coverage would be so much better if it included ways to prevent disease in the first place. Having survived cancer twice, I would be more interested in health insurance that covered tests that determine what deficiencies we have and how to improve our health.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. paul

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

    Either you are flat out wrong, or you are playing a word game with "all care to all people". Either way, you are still wrong, in the end. I guess you have to rationalize supporting your political team, and this makes you feel better.

    Every civilized country in the world other than us offers treatment to cancer victims. Not every treatment known to man, but the most effective treatment appropriate to the patient's condition. Only the US has cancer victims deciding that paying for the treatment is worse than dying of cancer. Only the US sees cancer patients as customers who can't say no until every penny they have is gone.

    It is insane that we pay for health care though our employers, so that if someone gets too sick to work, they loose the ability to pay for the health care they need.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ash

    Someone mentioned Obama's health care plan. Sorry to break your heart but his "plan" does nothing to fix the health care problem, it only spreads the burden over a larger group of people so that the greedy providers can continue to jack up the costs. The reason it costs $20k to have your gallbladder taken out? Because the insurance companies can and will pay for it so everyone makes a quick $$. Does it really cost that much? Only if you have to pay for a CEO's beach house and the Dr's ferrari and of course the pharmaceutical leechs have to get their piece of the pie. And so it goes, don't forget to ask yourself in 10 years when it costs $150k to get your gallbladder removed, what happened to that quick fix Obama was preaching about? Oh yeah, my Dr's driving a new Benz, that must be who got the fix.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Ash

    Angela June 14th, 2010 13:06 ET

    How about a story about people who have successfully used non-traditional cancer treatments?

    Because the AMA and nobody associated with the healthcare industry in this country makes a mint off of "non-traditional cancer treatments" That is why your Dr. rolls his eyes when you ask him about it. He can't shove the $200 /per perscription drugs down your throat. And the $10k radiation treatments, and the $6k scans, and the $15k follow up visits......... if you fix it yourself

    June 14, 2010 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. ellie

    The U.S. is a society in which the quality of a person's medical care is dependent on the ability to pay. This is an abomination to the Lord! I don't usually go Old Testament on the Net or anywhere else but this is an issue of human dignity, of which no one should be deprived. I have had two cancer surgeries and am now on my second round of chemo. Because we have Medicare and an expensive supplement which we can afford, I get superb care without financial worries. The day may come when I decide to end treatment and enter a hospice or take only palliative care but money will not pay a part in that decision. This is how things are done in a civilized society. Shame on those who think it's acceptable to treat the children of God as monetary issues.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Brandon

    "We have known that cancer can have a negative impact on financial health"

    No way, who told you that, Dr. Weaver?...

    June 14, 2010 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Marian T.

    @ Joe

    "As a cancer survivor, I have chosen not to participate in some follow-up treatment advised by my doctor. Why? I don't need it. I think a lot of tests and therapy sessions are unnecessary and just another way to generate billing. As someone recently enmeshed in the healthcare system I can tell you this – it's broken. The care I received was impersonal, incompetent and a far cry from compassionate. I have never felt less human than when I was sick. Shame on all the healthcare system profiteers who prey on sick folks. Our healthcare system is in the same shape as the airlines, the environment and the auto industry. It's not cancer that pains me now, it's greed."

    So well put and right on the money! I never felt so down, dehumanized and traumatized as when I went through cancer surgery and treatment. If getting cancer again is the price I have to pay to never feel that way again, then so be it! At least I'll still look like me, act like me and my kids will remember me as a whole person...
    God Bless You Joe and all the survivors!

    June 14, 2010 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. B-RAD

    The issue lies with;
    "Health Insurance is a FOR PROFIT business".....note, BUSINESS

    Premiums are based on;
    "How much do shareholders expect, before they cash in their shares due to minimal gains"....... note, GAINS

    No money, no treatment.... and I do say treatment, because there is NO PROFIT from curing disease, only TREATING THEM!!

    What a country, ayy?

    June 14, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. heinz

    My wife is a 4-year-since-surgery pancreatic cancer survivor. It began just before I was due to retire. Kept working in order to keep Group insurance, but even so, it took our retirement savings down by half. At least, insurer had to accede to protocol treatments and drugs under an NIH-approved medical trial, otherwise coverage for many treatments would have been denied.

    The new healthcare provisions appear to be such a mishmash of compromises, that there will be no significant relief where it is most needed.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. b. taylor

    Although it is sad health care costs so much many cannot afford care..it is also a waste to spend money on cancer "care" ..victims will die anyway after so much money is wasted (this is big business geared to profit not curing anything) and i would not want my tax dollars contributing to a lost cause..

    only 30 per cent of victims live..and as one oncologist says..they don't survive the cancer they survive the treatment "temporarily"

    still something needs to be done..U.S. spends BILLIONS on the military industrial complex..and almost nothing on health care for all.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. LanghornePA

    Headlines 2012..."US Life expectancey drops for first time as a result of Obamacare". Small Businessse and private sectoer in general are screwed right now. Insurers jacked up rates as a result of Obamacare and average people can not afford plans available. Get rid of insurance companies and let hospitals cover patients!

    June 14, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jotman

    As long as Americans continue to vote for politicians who have been bought by the insurance industry, and get their "news" from Fox or talk radio, we will be reading stories like this one.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Lexi

    For cancer survivors and those recently diagnosed: Research Gerson Therapy. Max Gerson was one the the most intelligent medical doctors who has ever lived.

    Netflix has movies like "The Gerson Miracle" and "Healing Cancer from the Inside Out."

    June 14, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jefe

    While other countries do have high taxes who have "free" medical care, we have pretty high taxes ourselves. I paid an effective 26% in federal taxes last year, plus 6.5% of my income to Social Security, plus the 6.5% less I get paid so that my employer can contribute to SS, plus 10.25% sales tax, 4% of my income in property tax, 3% in state income tax, 0.5% of my income in gasoline and other excise taxes. That amounts to over 56% of my income paid out in taxes. Its actually higher, because they're compounded by double taxation. We really do have one of the highest tax rates around, our government just hides it from us well.

    Also, I would rather pay in to an insurance pool where low-income folks with no insurance would go to a Walgreens quick-care thing ($40) instead of the emergency room ($3,000) when they get a sore throat.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RB

    I had my cancerous prostate removed seven years ago and have had a zero PSA since. Do I need to see a cancer doctor to follow-up?

    June 14, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. ks

    Cancer is a cash cow for doctors, every test runs into the thousands! doctors requiring tests for even 4th stage cancer. MO I have friends that have had to sell everything they own because of the price tag on all these tests

    June 14, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Ellie

    Even just four months after my brain cancer diagnosis, I can see this happening to me too. What my husband and I have encountered just in the past couple of months of treatment has been staggering – and we have comparably good insurance. My care just since February has cost over $100,000. Even with just my share of it, I'm already having to put other things off, including other health care appointments. My share of bi-monthly MRIs and specialist exams, and $7,000/month chemotherapy for the next year, just doesn't leave much left! So, skipping a dental cleaning? Can you blame me right now?

    To keep my health insurance, I'm also expected to work full-time while many days I can barely get myself out of bed and start my day by vomiting in the sink. I came back to work five weeks after brain surgery, and worked full-time during six weeks of radiation and chemo. There is no way I'd be eligible for Medicaid in my state, and adding me to my husband's insurance plan adds another $10,000 to our annual out-of-pocket cost for my care.

    And yes, I'd much rather have paid a 10% extra income tax for my earlier working years than what I'd otherwise be charged for my care now! I said the exact same thing long before diagnosis, too. Those of you who decry this aren't immune to serious illness, either.

    June 14, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. James

    In France the Emperor sarcastically said of the poor, "Let them eat cake."
    The US now says of the uninsured and poor, "Let them die."

    June 14, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. claire whitehill

    It is untrue that you can get free medical care in the U.S., illegal or citizen. Hospitals are required by law to treat a patient who arrives at an ER, but then they get the bill–a huge bill. I was recently in a hospital for three days, and the bill was $38,000; they found out that I had nothing new. If the patient does not pay the bill, the collection agencies are called, and everything the patient owns is sold to pay the bill–including their house. After that, the sick person has to live in a motel–and hide from bill collectors, because a landlord would check their (ruined) credit before letting them rent an apartment. How can you work if you are hiding? It is a vicious system when beats down the sick and destroys them financially.

    All of the European countries take care of their sick ; they get good
    treatment at no cost. Why were we so stupid as to let our representatives vote against the public option? THIS would have held down expenses–but the American public was stupid (believed the pharmaceutical and insurance company lies) and did not really support the public option.

    Blanche Lincoln just got renominated even though she voted against the public option. Do not vote for your congressman or senator if they voted against the public option (promoted by Obama; it would have kept the insurance companies honest and would have covered everyone–why did ANYONE vote against it. Our electorate is stupid–the voters believe the insurance company and pharmaceutical company lies that are put on TV. These corporations are NOT OUR FRIENDS and need to be controlled. The public option, by not not making a profit on healthcare, would bring down all insurance costs.

    As long as the healthcare system is for-profit, it will not be functional.
    We should be willing to pay the small amount to have a public option–insurance that is required but not expensive. EVERYONE should be required to have it, because everyone gets sick sooner or later!

    June 14, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Joe

    You guys really need to look into Canada's health care system. It's far from perfect, but financial concerns aren't what you worry about when you're told you have cancer. Tests, treatment & hospital stays are free. (taxpayer funded).

    June 14, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Michael

    As I sit here reading this article, I am dotting the final I's and crossing the final T's in preparation to submit an application for a client for mortgage protection life insurance. You may ask what this has to do with this article. This amazing insurance pays the insured individual money when they need it most (i.e. during a time of critical or chronic illness). Cancer, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, Lou Gehrig's disease and others are critical illness that are covered.

    What this means for the individual (and no, you don't have to have a mortgage to be covered) is that if they are diagnosed with a critical illness, they can collect a lump sum of their benefit at one time to help pay for their care.

    In other words, a $200,000 policy would allow the person to collect up to the full amount of $200,000 WHILE STILL ALIVE to pay for their out of pocket expenses or FOR ANYTHING they choose to use the money for.

    The tears on peoples face when we deliver them a check for tens of thousands of dollars to cover the costs of their treatment they would have otherwise been unable to afford is nothing short of amazing. I encourage everyone to look into Life Insurance with Living Benefits to help protect yourself and your family from the extreme costs of catastrophic illnesses.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Denise

    Uhhhh........we seem to be missing the point here, though the talk about insurance and medical care are valid. Read the headline again – "Cancer Survivors Skipping Medical Care" – that's SURVIVORS folks. When doctors went on strike in Isreal several years ago, the mortality rate fell dramatically. There are a LOT of cancer survivors out there that have not taken standard treatment. Check out the Institute of Noetic Sciences and follow their cancer studies. All that doesn't mean doctors are bad, but something is very wrong with western medicine. I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 2 years ago (@ 2 cm) and opted out of any treatment. I still feel fine. We're all going to die. I'm living as I think a healthy person should and letting nature and the Great Mystery take their course. I don't want to be one of the walking dead that I see in the Oncology Dept. Docs are doing their best, but it isn't good enough, and the majority I meet are actually hostile to the idea – and to me personally – that I have survived without treatment.

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

    As a physician I must say I am tired of hearing how doctors are driving Ferraris and caring about $ more than patients. If you look in my doctor parking lot, you see mostly Hondas, Toyotas, minivans, trucks and the occasional Infinity. Mostly practical cars. Many friends who are physicians have been in significant debt for the first 20 years of their careers and are still paying school debt. Most of us work 60-100 hours a week and many of us sleep in the hospital overnight. We are not the big problem. The big problem is that everyone wants full coverage of all ailments without tax increases. This while continuing to feast on cheesburgers and smoke cigarettes while not exercising. People have no problem owning and insuring an auto for 5K a year and having an iphone for 1K a year but cringe at the horrible idea of having to pay health insurance when they're healthy. Then they get sick and suck the money of others out of the system through ER visits and other costs. This is a generalization but you get the point. Universal healthcare requires individual responsibility and large tax hikes; it also requires cost control. Many docs would stop ordering 6 month CTs as cancer follow ups if the occasional patient didn't sue the pants off of everyone for not having a CT scan every 6 months...this leads to defensive medicine and higher costs for everyone. In addition, many of the cancers that are treated to the grave in this country are treated with a more practical approach in other countries that involves a reasonable approach to live/death issues. We spend a fortune in the U.S. on care delivered in the last few weeks of a chronically terminal patient's life.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Stanford

    Most of us are already rationing healthcare – we can’t afford it, so we don’t get it. Too often doctors recommend tests and procedures that benefit their own business model, not the patients overall health care.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Katie

    I personally know two people whose cancer treatments gave them a different form of cancer. Their diagnoses? Both women were told it's their genetic makeup, not any fault of the medical profession. And both women were encouraged to continue treatment therapies, because the second cancers they had (melanomas, from the radiation) were also treatable. Both balked at the continued debt load, but a heavy guilt trip was laid on them – did they not want help? Were they not grateful to be alive?

    I say quality of life and piece of mind has got to be healthier than being sick from cancer treatments and being stressed out because you can't pay your bills.

    Cancer is a BIG business, and it's not the doctors or nurses who are making the money from it. It's the chain hospitals and pharmaceutical companies and the lawyers standing by ready to sue. All of them take advantage of the sick, scared patient.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. J Duell

    As a cancer survivor, I did not receive the 'caddy' treatment-just the 'chevy' treatments and am still in debit. My treatment was based on what my insurance would pay for, so I skipped some tests. Even with my insurance by the time I paid the deductable for last year and this year and the copays that are required any money I had saved is gone. Then there all of the things that insurance won't cover, the over the counter meds, nutritional supplements, etc.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. langhornepa

    Obamacare is the issue? Are you stupid?

    We had the option to vote for a public healthcare system, modeled after countries that ALREADY DO IT EVERY DAY.

    And instead everyone decided to follow Palin and the other anti-intellectual bozos in some arcane historical relic fantasy ("tea party" anyone? what the heck?)

    June 14, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. reallynow

    Insurance companies provide coverage for certain things, but mostly when you get sick, and only after you have met your high deductible and out of pocket for the year. If the thinking would change, and there would be more policies that encourage preventative care, there would be less cancer and terminal illness. For now, medicine is a sick care world. It is up to each individual to take responsibility for their own health and institute preventative measures. As far as treating cancer, there are safe ways to do it without harmful chemicals (chemo) and radiation or surgery. Look up Gerson Therapy or Kelley Eidem. Do your research before jumping into an oncologist's office. It can save your life and your finances.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Raz'n Cain

    I am a nurse and recently had a total abdominal hysterectomy after the doctor feared cancer. Although the biopsy showed no cancer cells, my uterus was more than twice the normal size and had focal endometriosis as well as fibroid tumors. It was felt that the hysterectomy was a viable course of treatment by both my doctor and myself, due to my age (I'm 42), current health, and extensive family history of cancer.

    As a result, I am missing two months of work and mine is the only income in my family. Although I bought short-term disability insurance, it doesn't kick in for two weeks as it is assumed I have at least two weeks of PTO. My husband was injured at work last year and had 4 stints in the hospital, two of which were in ICU where we nearly lost him. My PTO was spent staying with him and as a result of his injuries, he is unable to work. We have fought for his workman's compensation for nearly a year as they have refused to pay even one cent towards his expenses (we even got a bill from the ambulance company for the night of his injury when he was taken from work to the hospital) and his insurance company refuses to pay much of the cost, as they claim (correctly I might add), that it's a workman's compensation issue. The costs of his medications alone are staggering (he was on hardly anything before the accident) and we've had to make concessions because of this, but that's just the way life is.

    I do not make much in the small rural hospital where I work, but I do spend the money on insurance, which is more than I can afford, but obviously necessary.

    In the state of Kansas, if you fall behind on medical bills, the company is afforded the "right" of taking you to court and suing you. Most medical companies (including our local pharmacy thank goodness) will set up a payment plan, many for as little as $5 a month; so long as you're making a consistent and honest effort to pay the bill.

    In the hospital I work at, we have numerous "patients" who utilize the emergency room for non-emergency purposes, simply because they do not want to pay the fee for going to the clinic the following morning. And this is not an assumption, I've had them tell me that they can come to the ER and we MUST treat them whether they have money or not, so why bother going to the clinic when they have to pay a co-pay or the full fee up front? Many of these "patients" have insurance, many are on state insurance (that our taxes pay for) and have a small co-pay (mine is $25 for an office visit, theirs is as little as $2). Yet these same "patients' have no trouble running up a $100 bar tab, driving a new car, or talking on the latest high-tech cell phones. Individuals like this, and trust me, every hospital has them, are one of the main reasons medical costs are so high. They have no intention of paying their bills and deplete the system of it's resources that could and SHOULD be used for those who truly need it.

    People will spend $35,000 on a car and take years to pay for it, yet refuse to spend $5,000 on a treatment that may save their life. They'll spend hundreds a month on insurance for that same car yet balk at setting up a $25 a month payment plan for their health care needs. It's hard for me to feel sorry for people who will spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on cars, cell phones, televisions, etc. yet cry and whine about the cost of medical care that they can afford, if they would simply re-think their priorities. Problem is, they'd rather have toys, than good health.

    Please don't put the entire blame on the medical field. It's a two way street and we're not always the proverbial "dead end."

    June 14, 2010 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Hanging On

    I am a 8 year survivor of breast cancer and have been unemployed for over 6 months. My former employer did not have a health care plan for employees so I had to purchase an individuals policy just in case I had any set backs in my cure. I had to wait TWO full years before my plan would cover any cancer treatment and I sit on a 3500 annual deductable. My premium eats up over 34% of my unemployment benefits each month and I have only spent $350 on medical needs this year. I am so screwed if I an unlucy enought to suffer a relaspe!!!

    June 14, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. SeattleWA

    LanghornePA June 14th, 2010 13:39 ET

    Headlines 2012..."US Life expectancey drops for first time as a result of Obamacare

    Yeah right. First of all, life expectancy dropped slightly in 1993 and again in 1998, so it wouldn't be the first time. Secondly, please explain how enacting regulations (or Obamacare, as you call it) to prevent insurance companies from denying you coverage, refusing to pay when you do have coverage is going to lower your life expectancy? Insurance companies are for profit, and so are the majority of hospitals, and as long as that is the case, the motivation will be to provide the least amount of care to maximize profit.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Elizabeth Kelley

    Another example – more proof – that health care is ALREADY rationed!!!

    June 14, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Cathy

    Erin C. June 14th, 2010 11:20 ET

    This is so tragic and true. People complained that a public option for Health Care was going to lead to rationing. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT'S CALLED WHEN PEOPLE FORGO CARE BECAUSE THEY CANNOT AFFORD IT?

    Exactly right. Remember all the hand wringing about death panels?
    People are dying from conditions that could be managed or cured with basic care. What do you call that? We have the equivalent of a 9/11 every month of people dying due to lake of care, and where is the outrage?

    June 14, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Ray Leonard

    Just as there are limits to growth, yes Louise, the earth is a finite system, there are limits to what either individuals or a society can fund.

    What value do we place on a life? Is the life of a 25 year old alcoholic homeless person worth more in terms of diverting medical resources from someone else, say a 65 year old world class guritarist?

    Should the penniless get a free ride for life saving treatments while the middle class must bankrupt themselves?

    Our society should be able to provide basic care for all if for no other reason than it is good business re reduces life cycle costs and maintains a productive workforce.

    Prolonging life though major medical procedures for catastophic diseases or medical events (car accidents) should not and is probably not affordable on a national basis.

    I long ago decided that if I'm ever faced with financing major medical treatments for myself that I will opt out because I don't want to leave my wife destitute.

    June 14, 2010 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. bellestarrr

    Yes we are the greatest 3rd world country in the world...a country that is broke with trillions in debt to china to finance insane wars with no cost containment or end in sight(thats a real CANCER on the U.S. and its citizens). Oh and there may be no money for medicare or social security either..of course not the Corporate Military Industrial Complex is hogging it all up....but dear gullible public..we want you keep paying more of your hard earned money for this crap..figure out someway to retire or work til u drop...we are running out of your money says the government...who says we have a democracy..sounds like the old kings and queens of Europe....so their starving...well let them eat cake then.....wake up America..time to hang all the bums or off with their heads...

    June 14, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. happy american living in canada

    I don't understand why so many Americans can be so ignorant – socialized health care will not destroy a nation. How can you support some forms of socialism (i.e. social assistance, social security, government involvement in your collapsed banking/housing, MILITARY) but not others. The solution is simple – pay more taxes and provide health care to everyone in the US. And if you want to continue with the American way of life (where you feel you deserve more because you've done more) then maybe a two tiered system would be an option (i.e. private clinics for those who can afford private care). Either way the current system does not work – join the rest of the civilized world and provide national health care.

    June 14, 2010 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Kyle Yancy

    If you folks are interested in a healthy, alternative approach to cancer, try Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez who was on Larry King Live several weeks ago. And yes, I'm one of his patients and I can personally attest to its benefits.

    http://www.dr-gonzalez.com

    June 14, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Linda in Los Angeles

    The other name of this country (USA) is FOR PROFIT. That is its basic premiss: that and Wall Street are the reasons why we have such a high cost of living in this country. While I agreed with some of what Clair Whitehill said, I don't think Govt run health care is a good alternative in this country, simply due to the high cost. Most people who do not have health care can not afford now; so how could they afford it if the govt took over? NOT. Many things must change – it is complicated. And the majority of people (those who have good healthcare especially) do not want change. True change would mean killing some big business industries. Example: Insurance companies. Or go after those who promote ill health: tobacco companies and fast food places. The loss of jobs would be horrendous if you in fact took change down a serious road.

    Now for those who espouse the virtues (real or imagined) of health care in Canada: I know a couple – both on disability. One person had to have all their teeth pulled due to rotting. It was months before dentures were provided. The other – had an apparent tumour found during a gynecological exam. It was 3 or more months before she was scheduled for a biopsy and months after that before she got it removed. Additionally, many docs in Canada have moved to the USA to up their bottom line. Do not tell me that Canada has great health care. And Britain? I've read about people having to go into their garage and pull their own teeth because they can't wait for an apptmt.

    Here in Los Angeles, especially if you talk about Kaiser HMO, the waiting time to see "your own doc" is around 8-10 weeks. It has been years since I have seen a doc even tho I am finally covered by insurance again. The insurance and doc changes each year due to cost to the company. I have not had a real doc since we moved to HMO's in this area some 25 years ago and my own doc retired. All docs now do is plug your name and age into their laptop and rattle off what tests and prescriptions you need. You wanna talk about anything else, you are given some standard comment ("yeah, a lot of people have that") and then ushered out the door. Happened to me. No way would I ever intentially saddle my family with debt due to illness either real or perceived by a doc. There can be no trust when there has not, is not or will be any relationship.

    June 14, 2010 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.