The High Price of Life

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Modern medicine has undoubtedly made living in the twenty first century a much more pleasant experience than living in the past. Today we can get our wisdom teeth removed in two hours, waking up after the procedure without any pain. Today we get to take a one-time shot that wards away diseases that would take another person’s life away. Today we’re able to fix problems in our bodies that we don’t even know are there with x-rays and radiologic imaging.

Amazing right? Though we see all these perks at the surface of these “medical marvels,” there is one that often goes under the radar: the cost. Cancer has become a prevalent force of destruction and pain throughout many people’s lives in the last couple decades. Almost everyone today has dealt with cancer in one way or another – whether they know a family member, a friend, a next door neighbor, or maybe they’ve even battled the monster themselves. Being diagnosed no longer comes with just the the ailments of being ill, but it also unfortunately forces a major of cancer patients to think hard if the highly priced drugs are worth it.

Drug companies are free to run with drug prices because there is no true regulation unlike other products in the market whose prices are regulated by the mechanics of laissez-faire capitalism. In this way drug companies set a definite price on a human life, knowing that they provide the one solution that their customers need. In this way patients are stripped of their right to health care and of their best chance of survival.

Another aspect of this money crunching system is the cost of insurance. Many breast cancer patients, or rather potential breast cancer patients, debate whether or not to go in for a MRI, which would give them the clearest answer to needing treatment or not. The catch to this is that more often than not, once people get tested and know they have cancer and prepare themselves to go in for treatment, their insurance rates shoot through the roof because the insurance company knows they are now a “liability.”  Angelina Jolie, an iconic movie star, went in for a mastectomy and received a huge round of applause from media and the world because of her brave stance of battling cancer. Though Jolie is still brave for publicizing her fight with cancer, the one thing that goes amiss here is that not everyone has the luxury of fighting fully equipped with renowned doctors and the best medicines at their side, as she was able to do.

The right to live is something that is inherent; living with the best chance of survival should be essential. Living and breathing should not be something that only the rich are able to comfortably revel in.

 

Written by Michael Wang, a former WYA Chamber Orchestra member and a current WYA Intern in New York City.