Cancer is a disease that has become more and more of a threat in the world today. According to Cancer.org, men have a 50% chance of developing cancer, while women have a 33% chance. It is expected that upwards of 1.6 million cancer cases are going to be newly diagnosed in 2013, with more than 580,000 people in the United States expected to die from their cancer – meaning more than 1,600 people will die of cancer each day this year!
Cancer research has definitely been at the top of nearly every priority list in labs and medical research center around the world, and every year new drugs are being developed to treat the myriad forms of cancer plaguing the world today.
However, it seems like those that need the drugs the most are unable to get their hands on them!
The “Postcode Lottery”
A recent BBC article revealed a shocking disparity among the recipients of new cancer drugs and treatments in the United Kingdom.
The article documents the difference between cancer patients in England and patients in Wales, and how patients in England had a significantly greater chance of receiving the new and experimental cancer drugs than those on the other side of the border line.
The UK healthcare system requires cancer patients to petition the Royal Cancer Fund for sponsorship if a not-yet-approved-by-the-NICE drug is released. Of 100,000 patients in England making the petition, 29.10 received the grant from the RCF charity – compared to a mere 7.05 in Wales. The statistics show that it is simply a matter of location – or postcode- that determined the approval of the requests. The needs of cancer patients on both sides of the border are the same, but the selective approvals showcase the serious problem with the medical/healthcare system of today.
The High Cost of Health
Cancer treatments are being released every year, but many of them require months or years of waiting to be approved by the FDA. This means that the pharmaceutical companies producing them have to raise the price of these drugs when they are finally released, so as to recoup their investment.
When the drugs finally do make it into the hands of doctors treating the general public, the cost of these drugs tends to be fairly pricey. Not only are the drugs pricey, but they are often not covered by insurance providers. Some insurance providers refuse to cover the cost of cancer treatments, as they know that they will not be able to earn back the money they are spending on the treatments due to the simple fact that the patient has a very high risk of dying. Those without insurance have no way to afford the cancer treatments, as the many treatments and procedures can rack up a massive hospital bill that those with little to no income will never be able pay.
This shows just how broken the healthcare system really is, and yet insurance providers are more worried about the bottom line than caring for the health of their patients. Companies like Fertile Future are trying to educate the public about the importance of treating cancer to improve the quality of life of the patients, but too many people just go on with their lives – ignoring the problem that is the broken healthcare system.
What is the Solution?
Many have proposed solutions to the healthcare system, but what can really be done about it? Sure, it’s easy to point out the high cost of healthcare and say, “Just lower the costs like in so many other countries.” Let’s hope that the U.S. government sits up and take notice of the situation, and takes action to change it before too many people suffer simply because healthcare is unaffordable to the general public.