One Reason Why American Health Care is Expensive

tl/dr; Canadian woman is diagnosed with cancer, told she has  2 years to live at most, that she is not a candidate for surgery but would she like medical help committing suicide? She declines, comes to the United States, spends a lot of money, and is treated within weeks. Her health insurance is refusing to pay.

Global News: Ducluzeau said her family doctor told her that with this type of cancer, they usually do a procedure called HIPEC, which involves delivering high doses of chemotherapy into the abdomen to kill the cancer cells. But when she saw the consulting surgeon at the BC Cancer Agency in January, she said she was told she was not a candidate for surgery.

“Chemotherapy is not very effective with this type of cancer,” Ducluzeau said the surgeon told her. “It only works in about 50 per cent of the cases to slow it down. And you have a life span of what looks like to be two months to two years. And I suggest you talk to your family, get your affairs in order, talk to them about your wishes, which was indicating, you know, whether you want to have medically assisted dying or not.”

…Her brother contacted his mother-in-law who lives in Taiwan and she was able to get some advice from an oncologist there, after only waiting an hour. That oncologist confirmed that HIPEC was the treatment for Ducluzeau’s cancer. She set up a Zoom call with that oncologist later that week but then she found out about Dr. Armando Sardi at the Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

“I had an appointment to speak with him via Zoom as well within a week and then also in Washington State,” she explained. “So there were two hospitals in Taiwan, one in Washington State and one in Baltimore that were able to take me as a patient.”

Ducluzeau decided to get treatment with Sardi in Baltimore.

…“I had to fly to California to get one of my diagnostic scans done there, a PET scan, because I wasn’t getting in here and I had to pay to have another CT scan done when I got to Baltimore because they couldn’t get it in time before I left,” she said.

Before she left, Ducluzeau said she called BC Cancer to ask how long it might be to see the oncologist was told it could be weeks, months, or longer, they had no idea.

“And I said, ‘Well, will it help if my doctor phones on my behalf?’ And they said, ‘no’. And my doctor submitted my referral again and still no word. No word at all from (BC Cancer) until after I flew to Baltimore, had my surgery and got home.”

With the help of a surgeon in Vancouver, Ducluzeau finally got a telephone appointment with an oncologist at BC Cancer for the middle of March – two-and-a-half months after receiving her diagnosis and the news that she may only have two months to two years to live.

…The BC Cancer Agency is refusing to provide documentation that would allow Ducluzeau to be reimbursed for the cost of out-of-country care, citing she did not proceed with additional investigations, such as a colonoscopy and laparoscopy.

“Universal healthcare really doesn’t exist,” Ducluzeau said. “My experience is it’s ‘do it yourself’ health care and GoFundMe health care.


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