You guys know how much I love numbers and measuring things so no way I can miss this calendar opportunity.
After I was diagnosed and had paid for my first month of Xalkori, I gathered as much information about my insurance benefits as I could and ran the numbers. My estimate at the time was that my benefits would last about seven months. It looks like we’ll be coming in right on schedule.
October 15, 2018 is the day we found out I had cancer. In the 6 months since, I’ve racked up $193,054.76 – these are all US dollars – in medical expenses. Note that this is for inoperable, stage 4 cancer in an otherwise very healthy person: no invasive surgeries, infections, complications, or long overnight hospital stays. Mine is as easy as cancer gets.
I cannot ever express how lucky I am that, thanks to my job and insurance, it’s only cost us $45,553.75 out of pocket. However, note that this doesn’t include travel, supplements, oxygen compressor rental, complementary treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic, or, most financially painful of all, months of unpaid medical leave.
I’m in about as good a position to handle this as anyone not in the top 1% can hope to be; I just can’t stop thinking about the median American household with $4,830 in savings. Or the rest of the world. Or me if I lose my job.
…this six month update is a good place to remember that my prognosis with traditional treatment was 6-8 months.
I’ll grant you that almost half the $200k was for new-fangled therapies targeting only a small subset of the cancer patient market: six months of Xalkori ($9k per month in Hong Kong, much more in the US) and two months of Lorbrena (a mere $21,630.41 per month in the US). These target rare mutations so Pfizer isn’t making up the margin in volume. It probably would have been significantly less expensive to go with traditional chemo but this six month update is a good place to remember that my prognosis with traditional treatment was 6-8 months.
So what do folks do? Leave their family with crippling debt, I suppose. And what is the right solution? I honestly don’t know.
I just know it’s not gofundme.
But back to how I started this whole thing..
Yes, I’ve just about maxed out my insurance benefits for the “benefit year” ending September but I think it’s going to work out well. After a two month waiting period my referral to the public hospital has gone through and Brad and I had our first appointment yesterday. I’ll write a dedicated post about it tomorrow but, spoiler alert: I love my new oncologist and am more excited than ever about the future.