ACA and Cancer Patients

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

FEBRUARY 28, 2017

In spite of my growing obsession with the news and political activism, I try hard to keep politics out of this blog. I continue to strongly believe that, as people living with or interested in cancer, we have far more in common than not. And one of the things we share is the need for adequate medical insurance and the awareness of the high cost of cancer care.

We all know that medical care in general is more expensive every year. Many of the new cancer drugs, whether or not they actually seem to provide much benefit, are horrifically expensive. Many people have reasonably good insurance policies that require large co-pays and co-insurances (and that is a term that seems to have only appeared over the last few years). Virtually every insurance policy includes an annual deductible. Speaking for myself and my monthly shots, I met the large deductible in January--but I don't know if that is a good or a bad thing. Good because now it is done, bad because it was a lot of money.

Over recent years, the ACA/Obamacare has transformed the medical and insurance landscape. There are many people, probably thousands of people, who are being actively treated for cancer and who are very worried about losing insurance. Some hospitals, including this one, never turn anyone away because of a lack of insurance, but it is very scary, and it is reasonable to be concerned.

This would be a political moment: If you share my thoughts about the absolute necessity that any repeal of the ACA includes a replacement that promises coverage to everyone who now has it, please call or email your Senators and Representatives and say so. The calls matter.

This is a good article from The Washington Post:

Cancer patients, survivors fear GOP efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act

Ashley Walton was 25 when a mole on her back turned out to be melanoma. She had it removed, but three years later she discovered a lump in her abdomen. She was then unemployed and uninsured, and so she put off going to a doctor. She tried to buy health insurance. Every company rejected her.

By the time Walton finally sought medical help, the melanoma had spread to her brain, lungs and elsewhere. And she eventually became eligible for California’s Medicaid program, which had been expanded under the Affordable Care Act. Two major surgeries, radiation and immunotherapy did not cure the cancer — but did beat it back.

The 32-year-old Oakland resident credits her survival to the ACA. Without it, “I would likely be dead, and my family would likely be bankrupt from trying to save me,” she said. Her greatest concern is that Republican assaults on the law will imperil that coverage.

“For cancer survivors, we literally live and die by insurance,” Walton said.

Read more:

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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