That is exactly what is happening, but your average cancer patient, stricken with panic and grief has no idea. The system allows for the oncologist to purchase drugs wholesale from a pharmaceutical provider. The drug prices are then inflated and billed to insurance or Medicare. The excess, not covered by insurance, is then billed to the patient, the sick and dying patient. The cost is at the discretion of the salesman, your doctor.
We are not talking about a few bucks, we’re talking about a multi-million dollar industry. How much is the mark up? I’ve read a number of astonishing reports, but the amount of mark up is the decision of the doctor. In one example given, the cost of the product was $4,000 from the provider. The doctor marked it up to $12,000 and the insurance company paid $8,000, leaving the patient a $4,000 bill for each day of treatment, over the course of weeks and months.
If all of this feels less than reasonable, it should. How unbiased can a doctor be who stands to make hundreds of thousands of dollars for suggesting treatment? How willing is that doctor going to be when I suggest we try natural cures and put off the harshness of chemotherapy in favor herbs or marijuana? From personal experience with two oncologists, I can tell you the willingness in both cases was not to be found.
Doctors who profit from what is being called “chemotherapy concessions” claim there is a justified reason for the up-charge The rational is that the cost of doing chemotherapy in a non-hospital setting is done at a high cost to the oncology office. They claim they are just trying to break even. To that I say, Boo Hoo.
People are dying from chemotherapy daily and the elusive “search for the cure” is disregarded in favor of profit. The practice is so out of hand, that the US congress and insurance companies are finally fighting back and in favor of the public. They are looking for change, as should patients, but it will likely be gradual and a compromise that will be less than adequate.
Chemotherapy, like all suggested medical treatments, is a choice. There are options that should not be overlooked. The unfortunate circumstance of the chemotherapy concessions system, is that only a rare few can hope to get an impartial opinion about the absolute need for treatment without prejudice from a doctor who has this kind of abundant wealth at stake.