The Cost of Cancer

This Kaiser Family Foundation documentary explores the financial consequences faced by three people, all privately insured, after being diagnosed with cancer. It was released in conjunction with a joint Kaiser/American Cancer Society report, “Spending To Survive: Cancer Patients Confront Holes in the Health Insurance System.”

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Video Excerpts


The Cost of Cancer: Tom Olszewski

Tom Olszewski, a retiree who lives in Texas, had prostate cancer but has been in remission for a decade. His medical history made it difficult to find health insurance and he is now in a high deductible plan with a health savings account. About 25% of Tom’s monthly budget is used for health care for himself and his wife.

The Cost of Cancer: Keith Blessington

Keith Blessington was a tax accountant who lived in New Hampshire and in the final years of his life battled stomach cancer. On July, 2, 2009 he died. Blessington was interviewed in 2008 about his illness and the financial burden created by it. At the time of the interview, Blessington was in a high-risk insurance pool which was the only coverage he could find after his COBRA expired. Keith’s illness had left him unable to work and deeply in debt due to medical bills and providing home health care for his ailing mother.

The Cost of Cancer: Jamie Drzewicki

Jamie Drzewicki, a nursing home activities director in Florida, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She has maintained employer-based coverage since then but has still accumulated $75K in medical debt. Recently, the hospital where she has been treated retired about half that amount.

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