The Cost of a Life

Yesterday I was reading this article on the cost of the newest cancer treatments. It asks the question, “how much is a life worth?” D1 asked me last night to print her a current event for school. I chose that one because it was on my mind. Still is obviously. To me it asks, “is it worth keeping me here if we bankrupt the family?”  Thankfully, it’s never gone to that extreme.

 One of the drugs mentioned in the article is Gleevec, the one I was on for 3 years. We were one of the lucky ones – insurance covered it completely. When it stopped working and I changed drugs, our insurance didn’t cover it. Something about it being experimental. Suddenly we owed $1300 in one month – our deductible and out-of-pocket max for prescriptions. The pharmacy wanted it all up front. No credit card number, no treatment. Sure it was paid at 100% after that, but the one time we owed so much just happened to be late December.

Christmas was a little bit smaller that year. It was more along the lines of “Hey girls, guess what? Santa brought you mom this year! Woo hoo!!”

We didn’t actually say it like that, or at all. We just got a little bit better at bargain shopping and filed our taxes the second we could so we could pay me off with our refund. Seeing the question in print like that really made me really think though. Not that I haven’t all along. An $80,000 hospital bill can absolutely make you question your worth!

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve asked if maybe it wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hire somebody to cook, clean and wash their underwear. At the moment we have running tabs with 2 different hospitals.

Do the bills change things? Of course. My plan was to go back to work when the girls went to school. We bought a tiny house on a big lot with the intent to add on once we had the 2nd income. When I got sick that 2nd income got put on hold and all our “extra” money has gone towards my treatments, surgeries and scans. 

We’re still in our tiny house with 1 bathroom and 3 daughters. But you know what? Surprisingly, we really don’t need 3000 sq. ft. – when the house closes in on us, we can always go outside. Even if it’s snowing! If only we could pee out there too.

Keeping me home was a decision we originally made a long time ago. I was working in corporate America importing athletic wear. Science Guy was doing, of all things, cancer research at a top medical center. I was making more money that he was, which says a lot I think. It would seem the war on cancer is best fought in overpriced licensed apparel. 

Somehow, despite my higher salary, we came up with the bright idea that me staying home was more cost-effective in the long run. Hey, I didn’t say either of us were financial wizards. Work with me here.  When the younger two were born practically the same year, the decision actually worked out. SG just wasn’t equipped to be the stay at home one. For some reason he lacked the ability to breastfeed, who knew?

The company I worked for went under anyway so things happened to be on our side.  It also turns out that not adding another income is much easier than losing one had I already been working when I got sick. It really is true that you spend what you make regardless of how much it is.

If, like one of the drugs in the article, we’d have paid $24,000 for only an additional 12 days, our story might be different. But, we’ve paid just the various in-network, out-of-network and pharmacy deductibles and out-of-pocket max each of the additional 4 years I’ve gotten to be here. Without the drugs, my prognosis would have 12-18 months at the most given how advanced it was. That extra time, at least to me, has been priceless.

If a small house and a line for the bathroom is our biggest problem, I’d say we’re damn lucky!! Is the cost of my life worth it? I’d say yes, I know they would too. Would the answer be different if we weren’t insured? I don’t know. I hope we never have to find out.

4 thoughts on “The Cost of a Life

  1. Oh my Goodness Annie!

    I love that you write ~ just the way that it is. Right there, black ink on the white paper. You are SO worth every penny! It sucks that the price of health care is so grossly expensive, but to keep you there for your family = priceless!
    I have a daughter (27) that was in an auto accident almost 2 years ago. She was in a coma in ICU ($$$) suffering from a traumatic brain injury. Her medical bills have past the multimillion mark (way past) and she’s on a drug that has a ‘pump’ surgically inserted in her abdomen, that has a cathater that goes up her spine to help with spasticity. It’s SO expensive I don’t even check the Healthcare web site anymore to see just how much she is worth. She’s irreplacable! This is why we have health insurance, AND someone in your position should not have to worry about any of it! Just keep going girl! I hope you get to butt-in to the front of the potty line as often as you please you are entitled ♥

    • Thank you!! I do tend to tell it like it is. Sometimes I worry I make people uncomfortable but oh well right? And yes, I do get to cut to the front of the potty line – I look at them and say OUT and they back off…heheehee

      I’m so sorry about your daughter – for both of you!! I know how hard it is on parents. I know she is worth EVERY penny and it’s amazing how quickly those pennies add up!! Thank goodness for insurance right? I only wish everyone could say that.

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