July 31st, 2012
Posted by Caroline Popper, M.D., M.P.H.
Healthcare, even for the insured, can wreak extremely high financial costs for patients, e.g., with hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer treatments and new drugs that can run up to $10,000 a dose. While it’s morally impossible to determine the exact value of a human life, a group at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is starting to ask a related question—how cost-effective are cancer treatments?
A recent article in Xconomy by Luke Timmerman that highlighted the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center study also pointed out that inefficiencies arise because many patients who could benefit from treatment never receive the drug. That puts the ultimate value of a drug that may cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop at zero. In addition, many people who have insurance can’t get reimbursed for certain treatments, and therefore still face financial hardships:
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