Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer] Terminal patients and further treatment

Go read this post by my friend and fellow terminal cancer patient Janet Freeman-Daily. She's talking about the issues of insuring terminal cancer patients, how we seek treatment, and what is permitted to us.

Janet's basic point is she's been denied important further treatment because she's already terminal. She spells out quite clearly the value of that treatment with respect to improved life extension while living with her Stage IV lung cancer. This is one of Sarah Palin's "death panels" in action.

Except this death panel isn't an Obamacare problem from the paranoid fantasies of conservatives, it's a private insurance problem from everyday reality. It's a doctor disconnected from their patient, and unfamiliar with cutting edge cancer treatments, making a decision that directly affects Janet's treatments, quality life and potential longevity. Precisely the kind of issue that for-profit insurance encounters every day. This sort of thing is one of the key reasons that most liberal-progressives favor a public option for single payer coverage.

An insurance company focused on managing patient health will make very different decisions from an insurance company focused on managing investor returns. Everything conservatives say they fear about Obamacare is already here, in their beloved for-profit system.

Stage IV cancer patients do have options that can give them months or years of quality time: maintenance chemo, targeted therapy and clinical trials, for example. Stage IV is not an automatic death sentence. I've been living with it for over four years myself. Janet shouldn't have to die any faster because some insurance company doctor who will never see her as a person makes a case management decision based on their own outdated data and lagging continuing medical education.

This end of life is hard enough. It shouldn't be made harder by the administrative processes required to protect private sector profits.

Tags: cancer, friends, health, healthcare

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