Bake Sales for Chemo

I recently read a story of a woman forced to have fundraisers to cover her chemo treatment after she was excluded from purchasing insurance coverage because of a separate pre-existing conditions:

Iowan grandmother Deb Robben  shopped the insurance market, looking for a company that would cover her. Unfortunately, after a lengthy search, she was unable to find a single insurer that was willing to offer her coverage; the companies denied her coverage because they considered the benign cysts in her breasts to be a pre-existing condition.

Last December, Robben was diagnosed with colon cancer. Because she has been unable to obtain insurance, she has had to pay the costs for treatment out-of-pocket. For chemotherapy treatment alone, Robben expects to pay almost $2,000 a month. “She’s only two months into chemo and already she’s at $50,000. Oh my, what is another four months going to bring,” says Melissa Gradischnig Nelson, a friend of Robben.

In desperation, Robben’s friends and family have turned to local fundraisers to try to pay for her treatment. Over the weekend, they held a $5-a-plate pasta dinner in the hope of putting “a dent” in Robben’s massive health care bills. Local news station WHO-TV recently interviewed Robben, who told them, “It’s kind of hard when you can’t get insurance. To say, lady you’re going to die or figure out how to come up with the money. It’s not right.”

This reminded me of the bumper stickers I used to see with the slogan “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to have a bake sale to buy a bomber.” So I’ve modified it to reflect our modern times:

Graphic image of children on jungle gym with slogan about bake sales and bombers, modified to read "it will be a great day when people get all the health care they need and nobody has to hold a bake sale to get what they need to live."

By 16 March, 2010.    medical practice, politics, Uncategorized   



3 Comments

  1. And people wonder why I get so nervous about the future!

    I really hate America at times and I feel so sad that we are so behind, that the health car debate never got off the ground and the bill is a joke.

    Of course the people who need something like the system in the UK, France, Canada, Japan, etc etc etc, don’t have the money for lobbyists, and don’t have the time because they’re clinging to shitty jobs for the insurance or holding BAKE SALES to pay for chemo so they’re kind of busy. There are stories like hers all the time, but we still haven’t done anything. WHY?

  2. You know, last year I pretty much came to the conclusion that the government is never going to do anything meaningful about health care reform, no matter what people want. Or, since never is a long time, at least not in the near future. Sort of like how a majority of people in my state want basic protections for LGBTQ people, but the majority our Representatives and Senators at the state level do nothing to extend those (interestingly, it’s a different story at the municipal/city level, but that’s a whole other story). The government is just too stacked with people whom the insurance companies have “bought,” so to speak. So our alternative, sadly, is to do things like this bake sale and to take care of one another as best as we can, whether the person needing money for health care is a family member or a stranger.

    I really wish I was wrong, but I don’t think I am.

  3. You’re right JoSelle.

    My main hope is moving to Canada or the UK. Or France, if I’m feeling adventurous.

    An ad for my US Representative just aired, against the bill. If it passes, it will make a hard time worse (paraphrasing). It showed a white middle aged hetero couple holding hands over a table, the woman looking at papers (bills) and looking horrified. You know what costs you money?! Getting sick!

    I’d rather pay the same in taxes that I would for insurance and know that I’ll be safe if I lose my job, know that others will be safe.

    But I hate America, so you know. I don’t exist.