Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Passing of Ted Kennedy and Video to View

Yes, I am being political again. I do recommend this video, so that is the technology part of this entry, that we can have such resources readily at hand these days:
It does not show a man that deserves the vilification that I fear will be forthcoming after his death last night. I know some foes will bring up his past mistakes and maybe express happiness that there is one less health care vote in the Senate. The video shows a man speaking from the heart. I hope all thinking Americans can view it and evaluate it on its face. I was struck by the story of his son and the clinical trial treatment that he received. Maybe that is what saved this youngster, who is of course alive and well today. Maybe not. But it gave him and his family hope at a tough time. Meanwhile, other participants had to drop the treatment after the trial funding terminated. This reminded me of my husband Ron's situation. He was lucky to have good health insurance when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was also lucky to have a boss who kept him on the payroll as long as possible so he would not lose that coverage. He worried every single day about losing that coverage when it would run out if he lived long enough. At one point during treatment, he was offered a chance to participate in a clinical trial. There was NO CHARGE for this treatment, which simply offered the combination of two drugs already proved effective. The question was whether they had increased value if offered together. Ron knew that his time was limited but this offer gave him hope on two fronts. First, we hoped it would give him a little more time. Second, and this meant a lot to him, he would be able to help others. He was greatly buoyed up by these two ideas. But when we went in to start the treatment, we learned his insurance company would not allow it. "How can this be?" we is FREE! We were told that the company had a strict policy to not allow any clinical trials, ever. If he participated, he would lose all present and future coverage. Of course he dropped out. The doctor in charge said sadly that this happens all too often with insurance companies. The result is, aside from denying patients immediate hope, that there is less opportunity to further research about treatment of grave diseases. Alas. Ron was not normally a cynical guy, but on this occasion he said, "Well, I guess they are just afraid I might live a little longer and cost them a little more money." He died four months later. To those who decry health care might want to check with your insurer and ask about your ability to participate in a clinical trial if you ever want to. Do you know if you will be allowed?

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