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Cancer care cut shows why private medical insurance counts

The headline from the Wanganui Chronicle caught my eye as a wandered bleary-eyed around Ohakune this morning (the kids got me up extra-early). The news is not good:

"Cancer care patients told: no chance"

Sure, this is meant to get you to read the story, but in this case, the copy lived up to the headline in a way that you don't want to find out about.

"Some Wanganui cancer patients will have to look for chemotherapy treatments elsewhere as a shortage of specialists at MidCentral District Health Board hits home.

MidCentral has pulled the plug on 14 types of cancer treatments as it struggles to handle the work demanded of i ts short-staffed medical oncology team."

I would like to link to them, but no permanent link was available. Just google them.

So what cancers are not to receive treatment?


You might be unconcerned. Right now I have do not have cancer, and I am also keen on a high level of state provided health care. However, I would also like to point out that there are inevitable consequences of that. A rough summary is:

  • Rationing is real
  • You think it doesn't matter until it's your care that gets rationed
  • That's about priorities
  • If you want YOUR care to always be a priority you need to have the means to pay
  • You can save, or insure, or do both

If you think that those nice people in the health department would always make the right rationing decisions - and so you are happy to place your life in their hands, then consider the question:

Should we fund IVF treatment for child-less couples while we aren't paying for cancer treatment?

I actually do not have a fixed answer for that. I think that the answer depends. For example, chemo for some types of cancer can cost $100,000 and extend life by only 3 months. That's three very painful very expensive months. On the other hand, IVF for can be an incredibly healing treatment. What I am saying is that if there is ever room for debate, you should have the debate about whether private medical insurance might be a valuable part of your planning.

Finally, if you believe that conflicts of interest in financial advice are serious and need to be eliminated or managed, then you should be concerned when the state, which can have a financial interest in the outcome, mandates 'end-of-life' counselling. Well cheer up, a small victory has been scored on that front.




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