The cost of living

What you see here is an itemized description of charges for my previous (7th) infusion of Opdivo and the associated labs, etc. Obviously, the big ticket item is the Opdivo itself. It is expensive stuff. Without the insurance adjustment, it would cost about $1,000,000 per year to keep me alive, also including the scans and doctor visits that aren’t included in this bill. That is pretty sobering.

I won’t get into how expensive everything or why it’s so expensive. It just is. Sometimes, I feel guilty that that much money is is being spent to add a few more years to a life that has already been around the sun 62 times. It’s almost criminal that I’m hogging these resources, when so much more good could be done around the world for the same money. Of course, I console myself by remembering that the money saved by my not having this treatment would probably just go to fatten some corporate balance sheet, or at best, lower someone’s premiums by a fraction of a penny. That’s how the insurance game works. The insurance company bets that I won’t get sick, and I bet that I will. Well, I won! Lucky me.

Anyway, I bring this up because my health insurance will be changing by the end of the month. The company I work for, and through which I get my health insurance, has been acquired by a larger corporation, and I’ll have their health plans to choose from. Good-bye BCBS, hello Cigna.

I have another treatment coming up on April 4th and just a few days between now and then to find out if they’ll cover my treatment and other issues at the same level as my current insurer. Cancer is expensive. So is diabetes. I’ll find out more in the next week or two, but hopefully things will be seamless, with the new insurer picking up where the old one left off. I’m grateful to have access to the health care that I’m receiving and I’m especially grateful that I haven’t had to worry about costs to this point. I hope this continues, but I’ll feel better when I know more.

In other news, I have just had treatment number 8 of this high-priced wonder drug. My labs were good and I feel good. My prognosis is about as good as it gets for stage IV melanoma, which is to say, cautiously optimistic and eternally hopeful.

Who can put a price on that?

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