What happens when you have no medical aid and you are diagnosed with cancer?
A very close relative of mine was diagnosed with bladder cancer at Helen Joseph Hospital. This diagnosis was part of a year long journey at Helen Joseph with numerous waiting periods, thousands of queues and contracting shingles in between. As he had no medical aid and a pensioner as such, we decided to try an alternative as the reality of cancer seeped in and we were faced with a decision as to whether we take the advice of the overworked urologist……complete bladder removal. The one thing common sense dictates in crucial times is the option to explore another opinion or alternatives.
The alternative we decided upon was to consult with a private urologist at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital known as “Johburg Gen.” The Folateng wing provides you with an opportunity to see a specialist doctor at a reduced price privately. Phew no queues, no having to leave at 6am in the morning to sit at hospital waiting for your turn and to eventually see a doctor at 12.
However, this experience soon comes to an end when you have to undergo the various tests. Staging, blood tests, biopsies etc can set you back at least another R5000- R25 000 depending on the actual test.Our appointment was on a Tuesday and we soon found out that Tuesday’s are hectic at this wing of this national hospital as it is the day that all the chemo therapy sessions are done. A total of 19 patients were seen last week and this number is on the increase. Thus far the highest cost in chemo therapy has been recorded at R6000 per session. The costs varies and differs depending on your course of treatment and cancer type. Needless to say we are back at Helen Joseph Hospital, after a very truthful and honest assessment with the urologist at “Joburg General Hospital”. We do not regret paying for the good advice and recommendations from a private consultation even if the reality is that the costs involved for cancer treatment is way out of our reach.
My question to hospitals are: have you considered looking at options for the missing middle? I think the Folateng poses a good option but let’s look at carrying it through on treatment and tests. Being diagnosed with cancer is already an emotional rollercoaster, added to this, one has the extra burden of being challenged by private costs and the indignity of government hospitals. I feel this is an area of national disaster and surely government can focus on improving administration, testing faculties and maintenance hereof?
It seems not having medical aid in South Africa is definitely not an option.
My question is, how can medical aid companies, government and pharmaceutical companies work together with our national hospitals to make it affordable and accessible at a human level?
At the time of writing this article, the news flash is that hospitals in North West will be shutdown. “Total cruelty to humankind “ is the lament from one of the nurses at a hospital in North West.
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In the meantime…
Incredible South African is making world headlines with her cancer research!