More than 1% of people in the US have Hep C. The new cure costs $84,000… if everyone over 18 and under 65 helped pay for everyone infected to have it, it would cost each of them about $12,600*—more than an extra grand a month for a year. That’s why insurance companies aren’t covering the new treatment.
It may be worth it if curing everyone wiped out the disease, but as we’ve seen with measles, whooping cough, and many other diseases, that’s not likely.
Hep C is just the beginning. New cancer treatments can run over $10,000 a month, even with good insurance people are still paying hundreds of dollars weekly. It has doctors changing their treatment plans, it’s no longer just about what’s safe and effective, but what patients can afford.
And it’s not just Big Pharmaceutical milking every penny they can get. Hospital pricing varies dramatically (hundreds of thousands of dollars) for the same procedure at different institutions, sometimes even within the same state. A lot of it has to do with spreading out costs—covering ER patients who don’t pay, building in salaries for the nurses, techs, doctors, etc., but some of it absolutely has to do with profit margins. Transparency is needed, and we’ve already seen that it can make the system better as smaller providers adopt the approach.
We need change, and we need real change. Shifting who pays for what won’t fix the problem when treatments costs tens of thousands of dollars. We need a completely different system, because current insurance won’t be paying for the amazing new treatments coming out constantly.
*(There are 30 million plus people infected with Hep C, and a little less than 200 million adults 18-65).