Monday, September 17, 2007

Cancer kills uninsured

When Fannie Geiger's sore throat wouldn't heal last year, she had a feeling it was a sign of something serious. Fannie says learning the news was hard. She had stage four throat cancer, the most advanced. Even worse, her free county health insurance did not cover treatment. "I've worked all my life and now, when I need help, it didn't seem to be there,” she tells Like Fannie, an estimated 57,000 uninsured Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, faced with the prospect that they will not get better because they cannot afford treatment.

By the time an uninsured cancer patient reaches the hospital, it's often by way of an emergency room where they cannot be denied care. As CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports, many times their cancer is so advanced, the cost of treatment can top $200,000 and the chances of survival are much lower. If Fannie’s cancer had been caught earlier, at stage one instead of stage four, the cost to treat her would have dropped by about $50,000.

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