Monday, October 15, 2007

Justice (and Treatment) for All

Again, a flurry of recent news stories. I was particularly interested in this piece on, which tackles the issue of "socialized medicine" and effective cancer treatment. It's interesting that this coincides with the American Cancer Society's activism drive to increase access to cancer treatment. The ACS wants more people to be treated, and to eliminate insurance problems as an obstacle to treatment. One obvious way to do that is to extend healthcare coverage through universal coverage options. Of course, that stirs panic among both right-wing and small-government types, and among ordinary people who might rather face the devil they know.

I could easily be among the latter. I am one of the incredibly lucky people who, when struck by cancer, had a fantastic health plan. I work at a university with a cancer research and treatment center, so I had access to physicians who were highly expert and used the most up-to-date treatments and resources. My university has a self-insurance plan with 90-10 coverage, a low deductible, and a low out-of-pocket annual cap. (I have thanked my 2005 self over and over for deciding to pay the higher monthly premium for this plan, rather than choosing the cheaper HMO.)

It's easy to imagine that a universal-coverage plan could limit my choice of physicians. Or perhaps it would limit what they could do to treat me--for example, maybe all medical care would be restricted to HMO levels. For someone who's had fewer limitations, like me, that is scary. On the other hand, I don't believe we have to fear such extreme restriction. And even if some restriction occurred, it seems only just for the few of us who now enjoy wildly disproportionate benefits to accept a mild adjustment downward so that our millions of disadvantaged neighbors can finally get some basic care.

And that's where the Slate article is especially reassuring. Looking at all nations with some form of socialized medicine, other than England--which is apparently abysmal for cancer treatment and survival--outcomes are far better there than here. Which tells me that, for all my choice and luck, I could be doing even better yet.

A couple of other links:
I took Taxol. My tumor was ER negative. Sucks for me.
Death rates are dropping. Hooray!


Anonymous said...

You are a very impressive person doing a great mitzvah for the world.


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Gordon said...

Thanks for your blog, it is a great help to us. My wife has stage 1 breast cancer in the UK, surgically removed, we now await test results and then follow on treatment (if any in the UK). So far waited 29 days with no info!

We are extremely frustrated by the incompetent organisation of our UK health service, and note your comments about UK survival rates. We are trying to improve chances of success by diet, exercise, prayer, and simple mental determination. We are taking cruciferous vegetables.

We suspect wife may be triple negative, why else are test results so delayed? Any detailed tips on diet would be well received, we have your link to the UCSF diet program already.

My blog is at