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Cancer is even Harder without Sick Leave

Posted 7/15/2016

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  This is another angle about the financial problems that cancer and cancer treatment can bring. I have written many times about rising drug prices and high co-pays and deductibles and extra expenses. But what happens if you don't have sick time/sick pay so every trip to the doctor means a day without income?

  In our current world of work, these situations are increasing. For many years, I have known people who had jobs without benefits; they were usually lower income jobs or people working without legal papers/documentation or "under the table" for a variety of reasons. In today's world, many people have PT jobs, sometimes several of them, and those tend to come without benefits. Many more people work for themselves or work as contractors and have no benefits.

  In the past week, I have talked with a nurse who works at a big Boston hospital as a per diem. She works full time and has been there for a number of years, but the hourly wage is significantly more than she would get were she a salaried employee. Since her husband has a job with benefits, she has good medical insurance through him, and this never seemed a big problem. Until now. Now she will be out of work for a number of weeks or even months, and that means no income. I have also talked with a young man who works at a sandwich shop, no benefits, and a woman who works in housekeeping at a hotel, no benefits. There are very few resources that are truly helpful in these situations, so the individuals are facing both a health crisis and a real personal/family/financial crisis at the same time.

  This is a good article from NPR about this issue. It is broader than cancer, but, then, the problem is much broader than cancer, too.

Hassle Of Being A Patient Can Turn Into A Crisis Without Sick Leave

Here's a typical scenario when you have a medical problem. You go to your doctor's
office, then have to run across town to a lab for a blood test and then you also have to
get an appointment for an X-ray or MRI. There's a good chance this will all require a
phone call — or a lot of phones calls — with your insurance company.
It's a hassle and it's time-consuming.
But for many people it's even worse than that.
That's because about a third of working adults say their jobs don't come with paid sick
leave, according to results from the latest poll by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
And for some of those people, taking care of their health needs can lead to a financial
Take Valerie Hesse, a catering chef in New Orleans. "I've had allergies — pollen and
dust and everything else — since I was a kid," she tells Shots. "Over the years it got to
the point where I was having frequent sinusitis, sinus infections, occasional
Hesse went to the doctor a lot to deal with sinus and ear infections. She tried to
schedule the appointments around her work hours, and sometimes her doctor would
give her a break and prescribe antibiotics over the phone.
But sometimes she'd be called in at the last minute. Or she'd have to work an extra



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