Jump to content

Non-insured Cancer Paients


Recommended Posts

What happens to non-insured patients?

They die , right?

Does anyone know if a doctor would even diagnose a patient, if they knew the patient had no insurance?

If they did, would they treat them?

I'm thinkin' they would be pretty much S.O.L.

Any input?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please WITH insurance die too! I'm with Jim on this one as to where your getting your info from???

There are hundreds of thousands of people without insurance. Check your area or talk to a social worker.

I'm not sure where it's at, but I know there is something maybe even a sticky on this board about non-insured people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whoa, I was just curious. I am well aware in this world, there are countries which have health care for their citizens, at no cost to the patients.

However I was referring to America.

Leslie, I know insured cancer patients die. Please know my intention is not meant to offend anyone.

My information comes from, past experiences with my Mother after her insurance ran out, and she was too young for Medicare, and too much money to be eligible for Medi-Caid.

With friends/patients who aren't insured, not cancer patients either,who I have worked with as a home health caregiver. It is difficult for them to get treatment for illnesses.

When they do, they have to pay the docs up front, for any procedures.

For instance, a friend had to have an upper, and lower scope. When they went for admission at the hospital, the charge was over $7,000, to be paid in advance. The diagnosis was IBS. Two weeks later, she was back in the ER, had a CT scan, diagnosis was gallstones, with infection to gallbladder. They admitted her that night, she had surgery the next day,dismissed the next day before noon. In the hospital about 48hrs. Charges for hospital only was over 21k. That didn't include, all the other doctors fees, surgeon, anesthesiology,ect. One doctor is actually sueing her for non-payment.

Another lady I know had a polyp on her vocal cord. Had it removed, but had to pay upfront. It's just sad.

So I find it hard to believe that if one of these people got cancer, with treatments being so expensive, that they would recieve the same aggressive treatment as an insured patient.

Fortunatly, my Aunt and Uncle retired with excellent insurance. I haven't even inquired as to what the cost has been up to this point,(they probably don't even know) it doesn't matter, he is getting treatments, and has excellent care. One thing I do know is, at one point his doc prescribed Actiq. When my Aunt went to the pharmacy to have it filled, she was informed the doc had to "pre-approve" it before the insurance would pay. The cost of the script was $1,000.

I am asking these questions for future reference. Perhaps I can help someone, or give them some advice.

Cancer is scary enough, without having to worry about if they will get proper care, or depleting ones savings.

Thank you for your answers, and advice.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I am one of those inbetween people. My only source of income is social security disability. I am above the federal poverty guidelines so I don't qualify for any programs or any discounts. I don't have prescription coverage. I do have medicare ins. which covers ususally 80% of doctors.

I had medical insurance through a previous employer and paid a COBRA premium for 2 or so years until medicare kicked in.

I was treated for lung cancer at a highly recognized local clinic whose doctors win awards for being "popular". They have cancer fundraisers and buy blanket ovens for their patients with the funds received. And they build gardens outside of the chemo rooms so that their patients can have something nice to look at while they are getting infused. It looks so lovely in the brochures.

Right after my treatment was completed, I got a call from their collections department saying I owed around $700 for copays. I told them that I hadn't worked in 6 months and had zero income. I told them that I had been totally disabled the year before from a spine injury with zero income. I went to my scheduled appointment and was told that I could not be seen until this obligation was met. I made an appointment to talk with the doctor who was in charge. He told me the same thing. I had to pay....or else no more appointments. Needless to say, I was devastated. I thought I was a "bad" person unworthy of care. Who would treat someone who wouldn't/couldn't pay her bills? My whole body was involved in total terror.

After months of treatment from this facility and their acceptance of my insurance companies' tens of thousands of dollars for their chemo and inflated prices, I was left out on my *ss.

But, they are still having their dances and dinners, their golf classics and hob nobbing about town with the rich and famous for thier blanket ovens.

I could go on and on, but it does me absolutely no good to revisit these memories. The struggle is ongoing even today. But, for the sake of my mental survival and ultimately my physical survival, I choose to ignore most all of it. If I eat today and have my medications today, I figure I am doing pretty good. The rest of it, someone else will have to worry about. A person can do only so much.

There are severe injustices.

Cindi o'h

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry if I misunderstood this message, but didn't your subject line say, "Non-Insured Cancer Patients"?

I'm a little confused with your last post regarding gallbladder, polyps on vocal cords. I don't see the connection with being cancer related. :? NO BIGGY! :wink:

ALL States offer different medical coverages, non-insured and insured. I would maybe start with your state and see what Texas offers.

Please take a minute or two and browse the Board here for Insurance Questions. Over the last couple of years, LOTS of questions have been brought up regarding Insurance. Just trying to point you in the right direction.

Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Skye, whether the patient is allowed to die or not is questionable. Non-elective care is never disallowed by most medical delivery facilities. However, the state of insurance coverage is a disgrace in this country.

In the cases you cited, not only did they have to pay upfront, they had to pay more for those procedures than the insurance companies do. Insurance companies fix the UCR (Usual, Customary and Reasonable Charges) for all dx procedures. Then they negotiate heavy discounts, as much as 65% or greater that the insurance company has to pay.

In order to survive the health care system has to kick up their pricing (the UCR level) in order to be profitable at the discounted the level insurance is willing to pay. The uninsured has to pay the full and grossly inflated UCR price.

I have seen hospital bill someone they thought was "uninsured" $35,000 for a stay. When they found out they had insurance the total bill to the insurance company was only $7,500.

That is a disgrace. Those who can afford it least, must pay far more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


In the US, cancer patients who are uninsured (and uninsurable due to a "pre-existing condition") should check with their ACS. I live in a small town with a pretty darn good hospital with a cancer center that houses one of two Gamma Knife machines in the state. For two counties, there is a local cancer office that helps those with little or no income, insurance or no insurance to get their bills paid. The ladies in the office push for "relief" on hardship cases, talk to doctors about dropping the deductible payment (but THIS can get screwy with an insurance company because you aren't paying YOUR percentage)... I know it helped out a family member when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had no insurance and a very small income...

I guess a patient would need to do their homework...

...as for the care that cannot be denied, that is NOT a visit at a doctor's office, that is emergency care in a life threatening situation. A hospital cannot turn you down, a doctor in private practice can.

On the flip side, our neighbors to the north with socialized medicine or the ones across The Pond aren't much better off than we are. Everything may be paid for, but you still have to be approved and I'm SURE the people with more money to speak for them are the first ones into the available appointments...

Guess the only way to ensure treatment is to have a doctor in the family....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To clear the confusion of my last post.

I was asked "where are you getting your information"?

So, I sited these examples of those people who even though they didn't have cancer, also didn't have insurance. They had a tough time getting treatment, and paying for it.

It made me think "what if", they or someone else who was uninsured actually had cancer. Would they receive treatments, etc.?

As for my Mother, the last time she was in the hospital. I had asked her doc to check her for bladder/stomach cancer. The reason I asked for this is, she was hemorrhaging from her bladder, and the ostoemy at the g-tube site. He never got back with me. After she was released from the hospital, I called him to ask if he had checked, and if so what were the results. A few days later Hospice called, saying they were on their way to my home. Mamas' doctor had refered her to them. She passed away six months later. So there was my answer as to wheather she had bladder/stomach cancer.

Anyway, I think my questions have been answered, and comfirmed what I thought to begin with.

Thanks everyone, I grately appreciate all your input, and advice.

Many Blessings,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I worry what would happen to me if I were sick with ANYTHING as I have no insurance, BUT it has NEVER crossed my mind that I would die because of it. No hospital can turn you away in a life threating situation. labor, car wreck, etc.... and for a cancer example i can tell you my best friends SO other was dx 12/04 with non hodgkins lymphoma (sp) and yes he did die, but not because of not having insurance. He had some of the best medical care offered in this area. There are indigent programs for everything, which include doctors,hospitals, drugs whatever you need. No maybe you would not be able to handpick your doctors or hospitals but you would be medically treated just as someone with insurance. ALso if you are in the hospital, you are treated exactly the same by the nurses etc, they do not know you are uninsured, they dont put it in bold red letters on your name braclet or anything. It stinks of course not to have insurance but its not a death sentence.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the person who called the state of health insurance in the U.S. shameful. We do have laws requiring hospitals to provide emergency care for all people regardless of financial situation, but this does not apply to non-emergency situations, as Snowflake said.

A few facts:

40 million Americans are uninsured, and most of them are the "working poor." The greatest cause of personal bankruptcy in America is health care costs, and many of those affected HAVE health insurance.

Providers can turn away people for not having insurance, and they even turn people away for having Medicaid because it pays so much less than commercial insurance. Physicians cannot run a practice (which includes paying for their malpractice insurance) on the meager reimbursement from public assistance programs like Medicaid. So they are forced to limit the number of Medicaid and uninsured people they treat.

In Oregon, a major hospital system recently lost a class action suit over billing the uninsured more than those with insurance. They were not the only ones doing this, just the ones who were sued. Now all the health care systems will have to stop charging the uninsured more than the insured.

There are assistance programs, but unfortunately they do not meet the needs of people with cancer and other serious illnesses. The system is inadequate, but of course nationalized health care has its own set of problems. There are no easy solutions. :(

- Teresa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My Mom has no insurance. I was worried they wouldnt give her good treatement because of this. I soon found that was not the case. The hospital social workers worked with her to design a payment plan. She has never been denied treatment or treated poorly because of this. I volunteer at an excellent hospital and the majority of patients have no insurance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Leslie, thanks for the links. I checked them out and there's so much information on both sites. I have passed them on to my friends, just incase at some point they need it. Or, know of others who may benefit from them.

To all of you who replied, I thank you as well. Each one of you gave insight, advice, shared your own stories, and opinions. You are what make this site so wonderful. It doesn't take long to get attached to people like those of you here. I think of y'all everyday, and pray for each of you.

Many Blessings!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have taken care of patients in a home health situation and I know that some of them had little to no ins. They could not get some of the tests needed to keep on top of their cancer. Example: a CT of the chest is about 1,000.00. Unless they are symptomatic the hospital will not do it because of the cost. Now if they have symptoms such as coughing blood (and they have been diag. with lung cancer) they would ok the CT.

I have ins. and I get the CT done every 3-4 months because it is a preventative thing--PLUS--my ins pays well. I know from working in hospitals that people with ins. get their tests done as a preventitive, and sad to say a lot of hospitals will not test until symptoms present if there is not payment up front or they have ins.

Not all hospitals are the same. I wish we all could get the treatment we need when we need it, it just is not that way.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.