Oral chemo

Doctors prescribe the best possible treatment to fight cancer but that treatment may not be entirely covered by your health insurance. It can leave you with a hefty bill and often a difficult decision of how to pay for it.

"I've been fighting ovarian cancer stage four for six years now," said Jody Schnetzler.

When we first introduced you to the 60-year-old more than a year ago, she was told oral chemotherapy was the best option to target her specific cancer.

“I was then billed $5,300 a month," Schnetzler said.

She says the excessive cost was because her health insurance provider classified oral chemotherapy as a prescription drug.

The FDA has approved more than 50 oral anticancer medications but it isn't a covered treatment performed by a doctor at the hospital or clinic.

Schnetzler is now being administered intravenous chemotherapy.

“Mentally I feel fine, but physically I am very tired," she said.

She said feeling tired is just one of the many side effects of her intravenous chemotherapy.

Dean McDaid, 43, isn’t experiencing those side effects because she is using oral chemotherapy to treat her Ovarian Cancer.

She has battled ovarian cancer since her first diagnosis 22 years ago. She's done intravenous chemo in the past. She lost her hair. She was bed-ridden for days.

A genetic mutation made her a candidate for oral chemotherapy and she says she's very fortunate because her health insurance is providing coverage for the treatment.

"It's $14,000 for these two bottles of pills. I couldn't believe it," McDaid said.

Forty-three states, not including Michigan, have enacted laws that require health insurance providers to provide coverage for anti-cancer medications no matter if they are administered orally or intravenously.

"This is the first year where it got full support in the senate," Michigan State Rep. Daire Rendon said.

Rendon is a cancer survivor. She introduced House Bill 5367 last year to prohibit insurance providers from imposing higher costs for oral chemo treatments.

The bill never made it to a vote in the State House and died in committee.

“Some of the organizations that provide health insurance feel that it might impact the cost of the health insurance they offer," Rendon said.

Rendon says there's little to no evidence that insurance premiums have gone up in states that have enacted these laws.

“In one state, I think it made a difference of $10 a month on the cost of their policy," Rendon said.

Rendon says she's taking her fight back to lawmakers and plans to introduce another bill with full support in February.

“It virtually accomplishes the same thing, only you can do it in your home at your own time. You don’t have to leave and if you're already quite sick, sometimes that really makes a difference," Rendon said.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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