Procrastination is my long suit... especially when it comes to running head-long into brick walls that I know will take much head-butting to tear down. I just find it difficult to make that initial effort sometimes. Such is the case with our medical bills.
They have been piling up, mostly unopened, since the initial round arrived from the Breast Center and related diagnostic companies back in November. Those bills, totaling over $5,000, were just to let us know that Jinni did indeed have breast cancer.
The bills generated by those we hired to cure her cancer, which started coming about a month later, would make that $5k seem like a pitance. We reluctantly found this out after Jinni finally sat down on the couch and started cautiously opening them yesterday. I have spent much of today entering them all into a spreadsheet in order to track not only the obscene amounts involved, but also to calculate how we might budget for paying it all back. Here's some highlights...
- You know that Porta-Cath we chose to get implanted in Jinni's chest so they wouldn't have to find a vein every time she needed some infusion of drugs or other fluids? $5,132.00
- I've told you that her first set of chemotherapies involved a drug called Epirubicin. Each session involved 'pushing' three huge vials of the red poison into her $5,132.00 PortaCath. They charge $225.00 to administer each vial. The medicine in those three vials cost $7023.75 (the .75 is almost funny). They do other routine but expensive stuff to her while she's getting poisoned every two weeks, so the bottom line is this: Jinni's first three chemo sessions cost over $9,000 - each.
- The day after each chemo session, Jinni drives back over to the Cancer Center to get an injection of Neulasta. This is the new miracle drug that boosts her white blood cell count back up after the previous day's chemo kills them off. These injections cost $5310.00 each (plus $35.00 for the nurse to stick the needle in). She has had six of them so far.
Yesterday's bill reckoning session was limited only to those incurred in the last two months of 2004. The total of all of those charges was over $53,000, not including prescription medicines (one of which is $650.00 for a 30-day supply)
So far, in 2005, Jinni has received an additional three infusions of as-yet-unbilled Taxol. These were followed by three more 6mg shots of $5300.00 Neulasta. No bills have yet arrived for those either. In addition, this week she starts her three chemo sessions with a little number called Cytoxan which I'm pretty sure they are not going to provide for free. Then comes surgery to remove what's left of the cancer followed by some reconstruction and then possibly more chemo and definitely three months of daily radiation. It looks like we are on track for a $300,000.00 cure.
Sure, we have as much health insurance as we could afford, so a lot of the cost of curing my wife will be spread among the rest of Blue Cross' customers, but it is still going to be a chunk of change to get her through this. As I look through these bills, my mind keeps wandering to what could have been if we hadn't been able to finally afford health insurance, which kicked in the day before Jinni was diagnosed.
I think I need a stiff drink.
By the way... The next installment of Jinni's Journal will be in tomorrow's News & Record.