Through mid-May, over $21,000 of cancer medical tests were completed. The statistics took me by surprise. “Hell, it’s only May.” I quipped. “There are seven more months left in the year. And that’s without any treatment.” My HSA account has withered from $2,500.00 to $863.00. That means I must decide what medical treatments will not be performed this year. More than likely, that scheduled eye exam and glasses are out of the question. Dental cleaning and tooth crown are out as well. Should I have neck fusion, lumbar fusion, or no fusion? If I choose fusion, should I postpone the cancer treatment? Installation of new brakes for my car? No. The nephew’s wedding gift budget gets decreased. New clothes? No, not this year. Trips to Wrigley Field? Out of the question. Am I thinking about buying lunch at the cafeteria? Nope. Want to see that new movie? No, not an option. When experiencing such significant cancer expenses, everything decreases, including cable, cell phone service plans, gym memberships, groceries, and other incidentals.

The cumulative cost-sharing of medical expenses can be significant and lead to medical debt. Even with good health insurance, policyholders may still be responsible for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. In addition, specific health insurance plans may have coverage limitations or exclusions for particular procedures, treatments, medications, or providers. If individuals require services that are not covered or have limited coverage, they may have to pay for those expenses out of pocket, resulting in medical debt. And in addition, individuals may receive medical services from out-of-network providers who charge more than what the insurance plan considers reasonable. This difference between the provider’s charges and the insurance’s reimbursement is known as balance billing. Patients may be responsible for paying the balance, leading to unexpected medical debt.

I haven’t started medical treatment. And in recent years, this criterion for Light Chain Multiple Myeloma has changed. There is now enthusiasm about treating smoldering multiple myeloma (like mine) now includes disease cancer stages that were previously considered precursors. Both of these actions result in the administration of drugs to patients who historically have not been treated. Because multiple myeloma is incurable, the patient will continue to take these drugs for life.

I will have to debate my medical priorities: bills associated with essential medical treatments and services directly related to cancer diagnosis and ongoing care. These may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgeries, and medications vital to cancer management. Basic housing and transportation are next, followed by food. Not sure after that.

While treating cancer early may be the best medical approach, the costs are significant. Alternatively, it may be problematic if early treatment results merely in more years of exposure to drug therapy without countervailing benefits. I don’t have time to list all my issues with health insurance. Most people agree that America’s health insurance system is broken. Counterintuitive? Yes. Why is a universal healthcare system not allowed? Well, because many of us believe we’ll “never need it. Eventually, all of us are going to die from something. So why do people vote against their interests? I have no clue.