Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thank God I live in Ontario

Did a little research last night after speaking with someone about the cost of my therapy. I'd heard that rituximab is my most expensive drug, but had no idea how expensive it is. So I did a little googling, and found out some interesting things. First, it is not easy to find out what cancer treatment costs. Consequently, most of these figures are estimates. As for rituximab (the R in R-CHOP chemotherapy), it costs about $4000 per treatment, or $32,000 total for someone with my kind of lymphoma.

Finding information on the cost of my other drugs, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and vincristine, was impossible. So I'll guess. I know that rituximab is the expensive one, so I'll assume that the other three combined cost the same $4000/treatment.

I was able to price out with complete accuracy prednisone and Neulasta--just looked on my bill from the pharmacy. Prednisone $57.44, and Neulasta $8303.90 (paid by my benefit plan).

So for drugs alone, I've cost the Ontario taxpayer at least $72,361.34.

I'll quickly consider (i.e. guess) the cost of my caregivers. I'll keep the figures I've used out of this, but taking into account my oncologists, nurses, and all of the other technicians, administrators, facilities, five years of follow up, etc., etc., etc.... $22,880.

Don't forget the trips to Sudbury, for which the Northern Health Travel Grant reimburses me $102.50 per trip. Eighteen trips (give or take) over 5 years equals $1845.

Oh, and my visit to emerg last month. Quick guess: $6440.

Specialists, my family physician, nurse practitioner, surgery.... $9200.

Total cost of my cancer: $112,726.34. Seems low.

(This does not include the cost of sperm banking, fertility treatments, naturopathic consultation, nutritional supplementation, intuitive healing, travel to Toronto, or the crystals that Anna bought me.)

I did find out that rituximab is not approved in every province. One article I read said that up to 100 Canadians just like me, with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma DIED between 2001 and 2004 due to delays in access to rituximab.

I've often thought that at the end of all of this, the Ministry of Health should send me a bill, telling me what my treatment cost (and saying at the bottom, "Paid for by the people of Ontario.") I think if everyone got a bill for their broken arm or stomach stapling or chemotherapy, we would be much more informed and involved when it comes to our health care system. Would you keep smoking if you knew that your 55-year-old friend's heart attack cost the province $250,000?

See also Thank God for my benefit plan.

1 comment:

Adam Price said...

I know what you mean. I'm owing the Alberta taxpayers close to 300k for saving my life. I will try to pay it back someday. At least taht's my intention. I want to be able to hand over a 350,000 check to the Alberta Cancer Board before I retire. Of course my winning the lottery is essential to this plan, but seeing as I already won the life lottery, I think my chances are slim.

I can always hope though.