I've taken a while to write about this only because I've had other things to say and simply haven't had the energy to get to it until now. But earlier this winter or spring, Craig was looking at statements and bills, and noted the cost of just one of my chemotherapy infusions from chemo course #1 (prior to surgery). This was when I received Taxol on a weekly basis and a cocktail of Taxol, Herceptin, and Perjeta every three weeks. The cost for one of these cocktails? About $50,000. We've all heard about the exorbitant costs of healthcare in the U.S., but seriously--$50,000 for one episode of chemo?
So what's going on here? That's actually a serious question, because I really don't know. I imagine it's partially the super-high price tag slapped onto new and innovative drugs like Perjeta (which, along with Herceptin, is made by Genentech), which has only been on the market for a year or two. But an article in Pharmacy Times lists the cost at just under $5,000 per dose (http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/health-system-edition/2012/August2012/Pertuzumab--Perjeta). And according to a Wikipedia article, Herceptin can cost about $70,000 for a full course of treatment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trastuzumab). Even if we included Taxol, these numbers don't add up to $50,000 for one infusion of Taxol, Herceptin, and Perjeta. Sure, I would also get Benadryl, Zofran, and saline, but still...
According to an article in today's New York Times, the primary source of healthcare costs is not healthcare workers or physician's bills. Rather, it's executive salaries in the medical business world: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/sunday-review/doctors-salaries-are-not-the-big-cost.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=OP_MTE_20140519&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1388552400000&bicmet=1420088400000&_r=2. This includes CEOs of health insurance firms and hospital administrators, who make much more money than general physicians and nurses do. I'm thinking oncologists may make more than general physicians, but still--this article does an excellent job of pointing out where our "major medical" expenses are coming from, at least in part.
I would really love to know what those of you who work in the healthcare and biomedical industries know and think about all of this. Although I have no answers, I do know this: I am extremely fortunate not only to live in a place with quality healthcare, but also to be fully insured. I honestly cannot imagine what this whole experience would be like if I did not have that kind of security. And thus, I find it very very difficult to imagine why so many people would want to keep so many people from securing the same peace of mind. Obamacare ain't perfect, but neither are our bodies.