Ann’s Diary: The Global Health Question

I started the day here, in infusion:

2012Infusion

and continued it here, at The Global Leaders Healthcare Conference, where I was a table leader on “Patient Advocacy.”

2012TGLHC

It was so very interesting to be in a room with people who, as far as I could tell, weren’t sick. At least not terminally ill like (ugh) I am. I really liked it–not being the sick one, but the fact that any group is trying to get CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals, health care advocates and a host of other interested parties together to talk health care SOLUTIONS.

I told the organizer that I’m in, that I’m happy to be involved in the next event–and the next, and the next–as long as the key element is dialogue, discussion and with any luck, dynamic ideas that lead to answers to some of the biggest questions out there in the health world–

like how to insure the uninsured?

how to get people the help they need without financially squeezing the system?

how do people find out about the best care they need when they need it?

and so on…and so on….and so on.

One of the biggest questions, though, the baseline question, the Q that’s heard around the medical world–had everything to do with almost nobody else in that room but me.  What do you do when someone is told there is a treatment that will elongate their life by say, 4 months–at the cost of, say, 90-thousand dollars?

I can do that Math and answer, “that’s not cost effective.” But I’m not a commodity, I’m a woman. I’m a daughter, a wife, an author, a mother, a writer, a breast cancer advocate.  I want to make my own decisions.

Yet someone has to pay for all this–I know, I know.  So what happens if in the interest of financial solutions, someone else gets to make the choice about who gets what treatments?

Sure 90K’s a lot of dough–but what if it gets me to see my daughter’s wedding? My first grandchild?  My son’s first heartbreak?  Braid my daughter’s hair? How can some one else tell me I’m not worth my life any more?

I know it’s easy for you–the healthy–to say, “but Ann.  You’d never pay 10-thousand dollars for a car that would–pardon the expression–die in 2 months, would you?”  And you’re right, I’d probably never allow so much money to be spent on me for that short a time–I’m too frugal for that.

BUT what if I don’t get to make that call any more?  What if the day comes–and for some it may already be here–when someone else decides whether or not they can get that treatment, and live to see another day?

If you ask me, that’s the biggest issue: that’s what worries me most in this world.  For me, that’s the biggest elephant question in the global health care waiting room.

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Posted January 10th, 2012