I was an oncology infusion nurse in a hospital-based ambulatory center for a number of years, many of them before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010. Besides administering chemotherapy and blood products, I infused medications to patients with sickle cell anemia as well as chronic autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease.
The common denominator among these diseases is the high cost of the medications used to treat them, at the time ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 per treatment. I know, because patients told me, their nurse.
I also know because uninsured patients were required to fill out paperwork declaring their lack of income, prior to receiving authorization for charitable treatment. If they were sick enough, they were admitted to the hospital for initial treatment, at more expense than outpatient infusion, until the paperwork was completed and approved.
These were particularly difficult times to be an infusion nurse.
Some patients lost their jobs during cancer treatment, because the cost of their cancer care increased their employer’s insurance coverage risk pool rates.
Other patients worked night shift before arriving, sleepless, for chemotherapy as soon as we opened in the morning. They couldn’t afford to lose their health […]