Monday, August 10, 2009

Only $5 million to go.

I had the weirdest dream today. I dreamt I owed the insurance company $525,000. Wait, that's true. I do owe the insurance company $525,000. They sent me a letter saying so. They want their money in $25,000 installments. 

By now I'm sure you're pretty familiar with the health care debate. I'm not here to change your mind but I am here to dispel one myth. And that's the fear that some bureaucrat will end up making life or death decisions for you with this new evil "socialized" medicine. Oooohh. Just the name scares me worse than the boogeyman or a naked Rosie O'Donnell. 

The fact is, some bureaucrat already is making that decision and this is a good example of how. My doctor is the head of Radiology here at MDA Anderson. I hear he practically built the department. The guy has more than thirty years of experience in radiology. He glows radiology. But I guess his opinion isn't enough. 

The insurance company decided that there wasn't enough literature about the benefits of Proton Radiation Therapy. So they ain't paying. Well, they are right. There isn't a lot of literature. But that's a good thing. Ya see all you healthy bodies out there, your care is actually about ten years behind. That's right. For any good therapy or medicine to get to you, it has to have lots of trials and experiments to pass FDA approval, have lots of trials and experiments after that and then finally be an accepted practice by governing medical bodies. That takes a while. So what you get is old medicine. It's safer. Nobody gets sued. Unless you come to a place like MDA. Then you get the latest and greatest. The only problem is, it's not run through the medical gauntlet. And sometimes insurance companies think they're smarter than the smartest medical people in the world here and over-rule them. The bureaucrats decide. 

Of course we are going to fight it. The key now is to stay alive. It would be one heck of a parting gift for my wife to have to sell a lifetime of savings to pay for a dead husband's former treatment. And college? Well, Conner's working on his curve ball. McKenna will have to join a rock band and hope for the best.

Besides a big IOU, this new therapy officially makes me the new Million Dollar Man. My stem cell was up around $350,000 and then there's the treatment I've been receiving before and after. Adds up to about a million or so. They won't make me bigger stronger and faster but they will make me portlier, more sarcastic and lumpy. A million dollars ain't what it used to be in the seventies. 

What's even funnier (and let's face it, owing a half million is very funny) is what MD Anderson was telling me when I had to sign the form to get the treatment. They said that the price is what it is--to the insurance company. But if I had to pay, they would find a way to bring it down. Ya know, negotiate. So our premiums are high because hospitals stick it to insurance companies who stick it to us. You see, funny. 

Other than that, today I finished my fourteenth treatment. As the poet Bono once said, "My body now is begging, is begging to get back, to my heart. To the rhythm of my soul. To the rhythm of my unconsciousness. To the rhythm that yearns to be released from control."


  1. It's great to hear the life in your words, jumping off the page again. Tell those smart people at MD Anderson they've done a good thing and have made a lot of us happy.

    But even more so, you've done the hardest work and you've succeeded. You've seen the darkest of days but your persistence, courage and heart have endured it all to win this battle. Good job, Michael. You the man. Come on home.

  2. um... I collect 70's metal lunchboxes. That SMDM with thermos is worth about $60.00

    Now if you can get your hands on a 'Lost in Space' dome top in mint condition... You could probably afford a couple Tylenol at hospital mark-up.

    Keep your chin up...