Seven Figures


I just got the bill for my radiation treatments last fall. Thirty treatments over three months came to $107,613. Add this to the $180,000 for two years of Rituxan, plus 17 other chemo sessions, seven surgeries, multiple hospital stays, a bone marrow transplant and a car accident and the retail price of my medical care the last four years has climbed into the seven figures. (Who knows how much the insurance companies actually paid.)

To put that number in perspective, the cost of keeping me alive is approaching the price tag of a single Tomahawk missile:

Each missile cost $1.41 million, close to three times the cost listed on the Navy’s website. Raytheon Corp. is the manufacturer of the Tomahawk Block IV, a low-flying missile that travels at 550 miles per hour. During a decade of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, the Pentagon has increasingly relied on the Tomahawk. A year ago, Raytheon boasted of its 2,000th Block IV delivery to the Navy.

Yes, the Tomahawk is faster and more lethal than me, but it can only be used once whereas I’ve been in service for 60 years. And I’m a better listener.

I’m extremely grateful for the medical expertise and insurance coverage I’ve received. I’m also keenly aware that the current healthcare system is unbalanced and unsustainable. Expenses are astronomical and services are inequitable.

How much we spend on defense and healthcare are hot topics this election year, and rightly so. We can’t afford both at their escalating costs. Let’s hope whoever wins in November has a viable solution lurking beneath their vitriol.

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