by Jonathan Rothwell

[LINK] Cost and Cancer in America

Xeni Jardin is currently going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, and linked to a story about the six year-old child of a cancer patient who raised more than $10k from a lemonade stand to help toward’s his father’s treatment bills.

If we look past the heart-warming veneer of people willing to help, this is a story that should shame the American healthcare system. Most of the comments on the article are from idiots complaining about the Government, and the President, being evil snakes, and cynically proposing that the IRS will turn up and want their share before long.

If we count the $10k from the lemonade stand, and the $17k on the family’s GiveForward page, that counts for medical bills of twenty-seven thousand dollars.

Of course, medical treatment is expensive. However, if it weren’t for the charity of others, that family could well be bankrupt within a couple of months. They could lose their home.

Around a third of people, at some point during their lives, will get some form of cancer. That means that for every Randy Cox, there are thousands of people who will struggle, and suffer, and die. Xeni has collated a huge number of personal stories of cancer patients in the US healthcare system.

A lot of them are of those who have lost their homes, or are locked in dead-end jobs due to health insurance policies that they’re too scared to lose, or simply haven’t paid out. One particularly sobering story comes from @Florida71, whose mother couldn’t take leave from work to ensure her father could retain his medical coverage. He died on the night before her birthday.

Personally speaking, I know a twenty-one year-old American man whose girlfriend was diagnosed with lung cancer late last year. She didn’t even smoke. Both were unemployed due to circumstances beyond her control, and her family couldn’t afford the medical bills. The last I heard, she was dying at home.

It’s simply galling. There are scores upon scores of stories of people who’ve been fucked over by insurance companies, or are now shackled by debt because of a condition that’s beyond their control. Free-market activists will, without a hint of irony, declare the story of Drew and Randy Cox to be a triumph for private health care—in reality, all it does is put me off ever living in a country that does not have some kind of universal healthcare system.