Friday, April 16, 2010

Stupid cost of health care

Everyone should quit smoking, right? Smoking is one of the leading causes for many illnesses, particularly lung cancer (the most frequent cause of cancer death), COPD, Atherosclerosis; and they have linked smoking to osteoporosis, thyroid diseases, peptic ulcers, and the list just goes on. Smoking contributes significantly to the high cost of medical care because, so the story goes, so many smokers are uninsured (the POOR with their bad lifestyle decisions that everyone else is paying for).

The cost to diagnosis and treat lung cancer is astronomical. Lung cancer is fatal in 88% of patients. Per the EPA:

Treatment Period Incremental Cancer Treatment Cost

Initial (3 months) $26,042
Maintenance (per year) $11,325
Terminal (6 months) $30,112
(Based on Baker et al., 1989, with comorbidity charges from Baker et al., 1991.)
1984 to 1996 is 2.14; Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Average Per Patient Costs for the Three Periods of Treatment for Lung Cancer in 1996 dollars. Costs adjusted for inflation using the Medical Care component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) 1996:1984 = 2.14 (Bureau of Labor)

I'm getting to a point here, bear with me.

Since most lung cancer patients die within the first year, we'll use this total figure as one years cost--$67,479--give or take a few dollars depending upon where in the year they die.

OK, let's look at helping those poor sops make better lifestyle decisions. QUIT SMOKING! That's the ticket out of this medical and financial nightmare for both the individual and the government run insurance (Medicaid & Medicare). The government WILL incur the medical costs if the individual is uninsured. They WILL treat the individual and provide medical care. This is a good thing, for some it's a complaint.

Well, the cost to help them quit smoking, to purchase the prescription drug Chantix (which arguably has it's own issues, but has helped MANY quit--particularly this writer); a month's supply of Chantix is $184.00. Those poor sops can't afford $184 out of pocket. Now, you may ask how they can afford to buy the cigarettes and I contend (from experience) that the $5, $6, even $8 for a pack of cigarettes is MUCH easier to come by in any given moment than a lump sum of $184.00.

Here's the question: Why don't insurance companies pay for Chantix? Why would Medicare STOP paying for a patients prescription of Chantix? Is it too simple for all those educated heads to calculate that $67K is far MORE than $1100 (the cost for the maximum of 6 months use of Chantix)? Even if we, the poor sop here, break it down for them-compare apples to apples, 6 months to 6 months-I still think $34K is MORE than $1100, isn't it??? I know I'm not good with math, but I do have a calculator, and I know I'm not near as educated, but really, isn't $34K more than $1100???

Here's your tax dollars at work. Don't complain about the poor sop who is costing soooo much because of her bad lifestyle choices. Complain because the stupidity of Medicare, Medicaid AND insurance companies, would RATHER pay for the cancer than the cessation.