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View Diary: For-Profit Health Insurer HealthLink (WellPoint) Denies Man's Stage IV Cancer Surgery (51 comments)

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  •  It's not that cut-and-dried. (11+ / 0-)

    Stage IV cancer is indeed metastasized, and perhaps incurable as a result. OTOH, many people with Stage IV cancer of one sort or another do manage to survive far longer than the aggregate odds might predict. There are many Kossacks, for that matter, who have beaten bad odds and survived far longer than the stats suggested they would.
    Do I agree that $400K is a lot of money? Yes. Is it "justified" in this case or for other people with a Stage IV cancer dx?
    That is a much bigger question, including subquestions of who gets this money and what help it may provide this patient, or those who follow if the treatment is (or is not) demonstrated to be effective.
    Full disclosure: I have Stage IIIC2 cancer myself, just short of Stage IV, and in fact had to beat back metastases to my lungs. Fortunately for me, I did--six months in remission now--and (bonus!) the cost of my treatment has been in comparison very, very low. I don't know what I'd want if I were in this man's position, but I can guess I'd be pretty aggressive for as long as I possibly could.

    I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

    by peregrine kate on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:09:30 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed 100% -- thanks for sharing. Be well. n/t (4+ / 0-)
    •  Absolutely agree. (6+ / 0-)

      Some Stage IV cancers may be incurable, some may not.  I am a Stage IIIb eleven-year survivor of cervical cancer, and have a friend who is a Stage IV survivor (for seven years now).  My husband's cousin was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer the same time I was, and she recently passed.  How much were those eleven years worth to her and her family?  A lot more than $400,000 is to the insurance company.  The point is, each case is unique, and decisions are better made by the patient's physicians.

      •  So glad to hear of your survival. May you have (5+ / 0-)

        many more years. Eleven years with Stage IV ovarian for your cousin? Truly impressive, and worth every day.
        Have you stopped by the Monday Night Cancer Club before? I'm sorry if I don't recall properly; my memory isn't flawless. Do feel free if you're interested, any time.

        I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

        by peregrine kate on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:51:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Metastisized? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cynndara

        The patient in this story has already lost another vital organ.   Just because the family believes in their hearts that he is now tumor-free, doesn't make it so.

      •  Each case is unique. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        james321, skwimmer, JerryNA

        But having worked behind the scenes in medical ethics, I strongly question whether the PHYSICIANS are the best people to make the decisions.  The doctor is not the person undergoing what can be hellish therapies.  The doctor is not the person who wants to live to see his/her child grow.  And the doctor is going to be paid more, the longer he/she keeps the patient alive, regardless of the quality of that life.

        I once had a respected research oncologist ask me in frustration WHY patients "insisted on futile therapies".  This was the same guy who offered our IRB a new Stage IV experimental therapy protocol every month, and argued that the consent forms shouldn't reveal to the patients their actual chances (lacking) of survival, because it would cause them "to give up hope".  Patients can't make the decisions that are best for them, when someone else is so determined that THEY know what is best, that they lie and conceal important information.

    •  Thanks for sharing this. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      james321, skwimmer, JerryNA

      It's a very, very complex and difficult call, and I'm not going to say fighting it is never justified.  But I've dealt with the opposite situation in those dear to me, where the doctors simply would NOT let them go when all they wanted was to get it over with.  I think we could benefit from rational discussions of this as a society-wide problem, and from unbiased ethics committees that could offer research-based, reality-based advice.  Even with the best will in the world -- and insurers can hardly be accused of that -- no one can make a truly unbiased judgment call when personal profit is involved.

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