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What Is The Cost of Hope?

OPB | Feb. 4, 2013 12:20 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 11, 2013 12:28 a.m.

Amanda Bennett’s latest book, The Cost of Hope, is part memoir and part investigative journalism. It tells the story of her husband Terence’s life and his death from cancer. But unlike many memoirs, she looks at much of the experience from two distinct points of view: as a grieving wife, and an investigative journalist.

After her husband died, Bennett went back over the extensive files and paperwork that had accumulated and took a look at all of the costs. Terence had good health insurance, so her story isn’t as much about the amount they had to pay, but the costs in the system overall. She says the bill for his seven years of treatment totaled $618,616.

Here’s an excerpt from The Cost of Hope:

The first thing that surprises me from our research is simply the sheer number of procedures that Terence had … I would have guessed sixteen … The answer is seventy-six. Seventy-six CAT scans during a seven-year illness. More than ten a year … Since none of us — Terence and me included — had to account for the cost of these procedures, all of us, doctors and patients alike, could casually afford to pop them like cherry Twizzlers.

Bennett questions the decisions they made during Terence’s life, and during the days before his death. What procedures, tests, and treatments were necessary? Which ones could they have skipped? What costs should be incurred when death is eminent?

Have you ever taken a close look at your medical bills — not just your costs, but the costs to the system? How should cost affect personal decision-making?

GUEST:

  • Amanda Bennett: author of The Cost of Hope, executive editor at Bloomberg News, and past managing editor at The Oregonian

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