Tuesday, August 11, 2009



....spelled out it is "Eighty Two Thousand, Nine Hundred Forty Seven dollars and Ninety cents."
That my friends, is the summary of my "Explanation of Benefits" from Rocky Mountain Health Plans which summarizes the cost of Cancer from May 20th through July 14th. This was the first Fifty Five days of my treatment.

For those of you who are fellow public school graduates and have some trouble with math, the average cost PER DAY for my diagnosis and treatment through mid-July equaled $1,508.14.
And to think, this only covered the first two rounds of Chemotherapy. To put it in perspective, ONE of the five drugs in the "RCHOP" chemotherapy regimen costs $11,000 for an IV bag. Yes, that's eleven grand for one bag full of clear fluid that you could hold in both hands. The day after chemo I get a shot in the back of my arm of a drug called Neulasta which causes my body to produce white blood cells so I don't die from a cold between treatments - wanna guess the cost of that needle? Anyone? Seven thousand eight hundred dollars.

And I haven't even started to guestimate the cost of radiation treatments.
In a nutshell, by the time I get my expected "It's gone for now" talk from my Oncologist around Thanksgiving, this little peckerwood called Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma will cost my insurance company somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000 (USA). And according to the doctors here in Denver and back in Boston, I "got the cancer you want to get." If an "easy" cancer costs the same as a house to treat - what would the costs be if I had Sarcoma, or Leukemia, or had to get a bone marrow transplant? Up to a million bucks. That's $1,000,000 CASH. For us, the good news is that our 'out of pocket' expenses for treatment plus the travel costs to/from Massachusetts General will be around $5,000. I think that's a pretty sweet deal, don't you?

Imagine if I didn't have health insurance - we'd be screwed with the choice of 'live in crushing debt', or 'die.' Now you can see how thankful I am to be employed and to have this health plan. If I became unemployed and lost insurance or Cobra - there is a strong chance I wouldn't be able to get covered, and then couldn't get treatment. Then I'd be dead and you wouldn't have this cool blog to read anymore.

Why am I writing this? Because I'm sure many of you reading this blog may not have health insurance for various reasons (too expensive, unemployed, etc). You may say "I'm not going to get sick" or "I'm too healthy or young to get a life threatening illness". When you think of this, think of your in-shape, excercising, and young friend out here in Denver. I did all the right things, exercised, ate well, limited my substance abuse but for the occasional beer, whiskey, and/or celebratory cigar, and guess what - Cancer found me.

It could find you, too. Or it could be another disease, or an even worse kind of cancer.

So my wisdom for the week is: "DON'T BE AN ASSCLOWN, GET HEALTH INSURANCE".

If you think you can't afford it, stop eating out, don't go to Starbucks, sell a car and drive a beater, stop getting cable or internet, move to a cheaper town or neighborhood - do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING possible to get the insurance because you'll never know when you need it.

Health insurance is more important than your house, your stuff, your job - in fact it is the most important thing you can provide (besides food and basic shelter) for your clan. Don't take this email as a bitch session about the cost of healthcare - it isn't. They have AMAZING drugs and therapyfor this disease which fifty years ago would have been my death. It is worth every penny. Doctors deserve every cent they get - I don't care if they live in big houses, drive fancy cars, or get to jet around the world. THEY ARE WORTH IT.

So what do I think about this big health care debate in Congress where everyone is getting lathered up about each proposal? Frankly, I'm VERY skeptical of anything Congress proposes, regardless of whether it is by the Democrats, Independents, or even the irresponsible dumbasses of my Party, the Republicans. Take one trip to the DMV in your community(see pic), or be an Architect trying to get a project through Planning/Zoning Departments, and you'll see the incompetence of Government. Frankly, I don't want these people figuring out what's best for my health condition or treatment regimen - they have enough difficulty issuing us plastic cards with our picture on them. Imagine if they would determine how much (or little) treatment you get for a disease based upon their judgement....

But one thing I do know, it's a crime for people to be denied available treatment because they are in a circumstance where they cannot pay - whether it is due to unforeseen circumstances or their irresponsible behavior. We are too rich and successful as a people for this to happen. As a human being I can't stomach this- it's wrong to be knowingly deny coverage to someone who could be helped. Can you believe this, a Libertarianesque-Republican saying this? It must be all those Methodist pies and sermons finally rubbing off on me. So, something has to be done, and everyone - whether rich or poor - is going to have to pay for it. America voted for a 'change' of direction - let's see just how much "change" we as a country are willing to pay for.

Don't forget our Mr. Rogers' lesson of the day: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't you be an assclown!"

Carpe diem.


  1. It's worth checking out the Mayo Clinic's positions on health care reform ... several available for download at this page: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthpolicycenter/

  2. In my honest opinion a lot of the costs have nothing to do w/ healthcare but with the drug companies. You are right, the docs deserve EVERY cent; after going through Kate's surgery and week long hospital stay I would have given them my soul for taking such good care of my baby. I just really think that the drug companies are ripping the american people off and THEY are the ones who are keeping the uninsured from getting the treatment that they need.


  3. You're on the countdown toward wellness once again, Bill. Stay tough a little while longer and you're another survivor and inspiration to many others now and in the future--and you are definitely worth a million billion and more! Your mama-in-law