The Cost of Hope

Amanda Bennet was the Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer when her husband died of a rare form of kidney cancer.  She decided to apply her reporting skills to learn everything she could about his illness and the treatment he received by tracking his lab and treatment reports and interviewing his many doctors, some of whom she had never met. 

Her book “The Cost of Hope” describes the course of his illness.  It illuminates:  (1) the complexity of the medical system, (2) how identical procedures done in different areas of the country can  cost vastly different amounts, (3) how her love for her husband blinded her to the inescapable conclusion that he was not going to recover, and (4) how the medical community colluded in allowing her to retain this belief. A shorter article was published and is available online.

Perhaps most jarring was her discovery that his six year illness cost an estimated $617,000.   In investigating what procedures he’d undergone, she had been under the impression that he had 15 cat scans during the course of his treatment only to find that medical bills indicated that he had 76!  She also learned that the last three days of his life cost over $14,000

It is clear that in a long illness, it can be challenging to keep up with all of the medical decisions being made and still remain aware of the overall circumstances.

Having Your Voice to the End of Your Life, a ten hour seminar can help you to address some of these issues.

Decision Making.

When there is a medical crisis, decision making can be both crucial and complex with many forces at play and the urgency that life may hang in the balance adds to the pressure.  If medical personnel hold out hope, it may be difficult to make decisions regarding the recommended course of action.  Most importantly, consideration of long term implications of a medical procedure or treatment and its side effects may not be addressed.

How can your loved ones know what decisions to make for you if you haven’t given them any guidance?

The Cost of Health Care

The media has been filled with stories regarding care and eventual death of someone who is terminally ill   Many of these situations are economic and psychological nightmares.  Consider the following:

  • An 88 year old man with advanced dementia who had stated that he wanted to die naturally was treated for ten days with highly experimental drugs at a treatment cost of $323,000. You can read about his situation here.

  • A woman who reported that she didn’t understand that her husband was dying was treated for cancer in the last three days of his life at the cost of over $14,000 per day.

  • A man whose treatment for cancer over six years cost $616,000 with the last three days of his life costing over $14,000 per day.  His wife reported that she was not aware that he was dying. You can read about this story here.

  • A man who was in good health and taking a blood thinner hit his head and experienced  brain hemorrhaging when falling off a step ladder.  He had no advanced medical directive, never regained consciousness, and died three months later.  His partner was bankrupted by the costs.

  • A family who rejected the medical advice that nothing further could be done for their unconscious father insisted that every measure be taken.   Patient died three months later without regaining consciousness.  The estimated cost was $250,000.

A modest investment in YOUR LIFE, YOUR DEATH, YOUR CHOICE: How to Have Your Voice to the End of Your Life will help to express your wishes for the end of your life and could save you and your family hundreds of thousands of dollars and enable your family to make the decisions you desire.

Considering end of life is hard work…

It takes courage to think and  communicate about end of life issues.  Giving thought to this weighty subject requires developing a “fitness” to make tough decisions.  A way to prepare for making these decisions is to do three things…

   1.  Face the fact that you are going to die at some point.

  2.  Be aware that the medical establishment will be oriented towards keeping you alive, often at great cost.

  3.  Know that you need to talk with your family to help them accept your decisions about end of life issues.

To develop a “fitness” you must examine what others have experienced  when confronted with a serious or mortal illness or injury.  To maintain “fitness” you must continue to consider what you would want to happen if you were afflicted with the same medical problem.

 

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