The coming crisis in health care

KEY TAKEAWAY: The U.S. is not prepared for the coming crisis in healthcare that could have a damaging effect of caregivers as well as patients.  The crisis consists of two parts: first, there is the rising cost of new prescription drugs, especially those to treat cancer.  Second, is the costs of extended care at a time when Congress is trying to gut Medicaid.

The price of staying alive with new cancer drugs is prohibitive. New cancer treatments, such as immunotherapy, can cost well over $100,000 a year in the US, a figure which many now say is unsustainable .  This is a concern for patients as well as health insurers in the US, as patients may have to cover the cost of some or all of their medicines depending on their insurance plan.

Prices for cancer drugs are getting so bad that some Oncologists are recommending half doses to patients to save money. Pharma companies have made progress in new treatments, but the cost of these treatments means that only those lucky enough to have good health insurance can afford the treatments and even then the co-pays could wipe out savings.

Then there is extended care for aging parents…

Now, according to the NY Times “Imagine your mother needs to move into a nursing home. It’s going to cost her almost $100,000 a year. Very few people have private insurance to cover this. Your mother will most likely run out her savings until she qualifies for Medicaid. This is not a rare event. Roughly one in three people now turning 65 will require nursing home care at some point during his or her life. Over three-quarters of long-stay nursing home residents will eventually be covered by Medicaid. Many American voters think Medicaid is only for low-income adults and their children — for people who aren’t “like them.” But Medicaid is not “somebody else’s” insurance. It is insurance for all of our mothers and fathers and, eventually, for ourselves.”

In other words your savings could be completely wiped out by taking care of your mom or dad.  I have firsthand experience.  When my dad could no longer take care of himself we had to admit to a nursing home in Indianapolis.  We went through all his savings plus all the money from the sale of his house before getting him on Medicaid.  It was a long and complicated process and if he hadn’t qualified our savings could have been completely wiped out.

There is nothing that compares to the stress of caring for an aging parent .  It’s hard to see a once vibrant person require assistance to do simple things like taking a shower or make a meal. An assisted care facility might be the answer, but there are so many bad ones, it’s hard to feel like your parent is getting good attentive care.

With Republicans hiding the new ACA it’s safe to assume that you’re not going to get any help from the government.  It’s also going to be harder to qualify loved ones for Medicaid with the government out to slash funding.

The effect of the high cancer drug prices and extended care is going to have a major impact on the health and well being of our workforce.  We probably won’t do anything until it’s beyond crisis mode and that’s too bad because this is going to be a national and major crisis.

 

One thought on “The coming crisis in health care

  1. Andrew Schorr

    I couldn’t agree more. As a Medicare Part D patient who takes a $100,000+ a year oral cancer medicine I worry about affording it long-term if I am lucky enough for my cancer to be “chronic.” I can handle the co-pays just now but I KNOW there are many others who cannot afford it at all. Science progress in cancer is terrific and combo medicines are compelling. But the cost is going out of site while assistance programs run out of money and legislation promising to make things much worse. A survey I took (via PatientPower.info) of 1,700 cancer patients showed 45% struggle with cancer drug costs now and 75% are worried about their future ability to cope. It is a scary time and there don’t seem to be any “white knights” with any power to make it better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *