Why are doctors and insurance companies against cancer treatment pills?

Having a close up view of cancer treatment in the US when my father was diagnosed with lymphoma eight years ago, reading stories such as this sicken me. Whether it’s the insurance companies who find new ways to avoid covering patients who have insurance or oncologists who don’t like new treatments because they might not pull in a few hundred thousand more per year thanks to making commission from chemo sales, it’s infuriating. The system completely sucks which is why the US system is comfortably nestled between Costa Rica and Slovenia by the WHO. (Let me beat the wingnuts to the punch which is that the WHO is a known commie/pinko-lovin’ organization that hates America. Anyone who fails to see the glory in the dysfunctional US system of doctors/insurance/big business probably hates America and should be watched.)

In this NY Times article today, here’s another crazy example of how far behind the US insurance business is with medical treatment. Cancer patients who can be more efficiently treated with pills instead of chemo are refused payment because it’s new. Sure it’s cheaper and easier for patients but some doctors don’t like it because they can’t make commission on pushing chemo. How else are they going to afford their lifestyle if they can’t have a conflict of interest pushing drugs? Patients? Who cares?

But his insurance covered hardly any of the cost of the cancer pills the doctor prescribed for him to take at home. Mr. Stauffer, a 62-year-old Oregon farmer, had to pay $5,500 for the first 42-day supply of the drug, Temodar, and $1,700 a month after that.

“Because it was a pill,” he said, “I had to pay — not the insurance.”

Pills and capsules are the new wave in cancer treatment, expected to account for 25 percent of all cancer medicines in a few years, up from less than 10 percent now.

Every time a negative story emerges about the the British health care system or Canada, the right wing launches a new barrage of attacks and uses it as an example of why the US system should never change. No, to them the US system only needs minor changes such as not allowing lawsuits or as we saw in the campaign last year, tax credits and competition. It’s as if they believe it’s an easy system to navigate and a $5,000 tax credit would help. What else would you expect from the tea bag toting nitwits? No system is perfect and that includes the WHO #1 ranked country France which offers a public/private system. Sure there are problems in the best of systems but compared to the frustrations that I have personally experienced during my many years of growing up and living in the US plus following my father’s cancer treatment as well as others, it is so obvious that the US system is in desperate need of an overhaul.

It’s not flexible, as many like to believe about everything in the US. It’s not efficient. It struggles to deliver its core function of providing health care. If money is not an issue, it’s not an issue but we don’t all work in the corner office for Goldman Sachs or Citibank.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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