When it comes to mesothelioma, many people are aware of it only through late-night commercials from law firms. “Have you been exposed to asbestos?” the commercials ask. “If so, call the number on your screen to speak with a lawyer today. You could receive compensation!”
Because the disease is so often associated with late-night legal ads, a certain level of skepticism has arisen in the public eye about the disease. If lawyers are involved, then it’s probably just a money-making scheme, right?
In this blog post, the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center wants to address some of the common misconceptions associated with mesothelioma compensation.
Mesothelioma Treatment Costs Are High
Mesothelioma is a devastating form of cancer, and cancer treatments are not cheap. Even those who have insurance can end up paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets for standard treatments. For patients who go on to try emerging treatments that are not covered by insurance or grants, those costs can skyrocket even more.
According to the FAIR Health Consumer Cost Lookup Tool and the Healthcare Bluebook, treatment costs of mesothelioma can be exorbitant:
- Diagnostic tests: Up to $1,500 for a single scan (CT, PET, MRI), and much more for the surgical biopsies needed to actually provide a diagnosis.
- Surgery: Depending on the type of surgery needed, costs can rise as high as $20,000 for the procedure.
- Chemotherapy: A single course of the most common type of mesothelioma chemotherapy, pemetrexed (Alimta), can cost up to $50,000.
- Radiation: Tumor reduction through radiation can be as high as $12,000.
Experimental drugs like pembrolizumab (Keytruda) may be even more expensive, due to the high costs of research and development behind them. While some of these costs may be defrayed through research grants and dedicated cancer clinics, not all patients are able to take advantage of these costs.
Note that these costs often include only the procedures themselves. They do not account for travel and accommodation costs of both the patient and any family members who go with them (since many patients are not able to travel on their own). Cancer clinics are often available only in larger cities, and for those who live outside of those cities, it can be quite costly to visit those clinics.
These costs also do not account for any secondary medications – such as anesthesia, painkillers, or antiemetics (to prevent or dampen nausea) – or complications that patients may encounter, like infection, hormonal imbalances, or depression. It also does not include the costs of follow-up care, such as physical therapy and continuing prescriptions, or the regular check-ups cancer patients need to undergo to catch any recurrence early.
All in all, the costs of treatment are very high and rising, and for many can extend into the millions of dollars range. The vast majority of compensation mesothelioma patients receive goes toward the payment of these medical expenses.
Mesothelioma Patients Cannot Work
Because of the impact of mesothelioma on the body, in many cases individuals who develop the disease are unable to work. Most often, it affects a person’s breathing, making them unable to sustain any type of physical labor for very long. Even in cases where the person works in an office or a less labor-intensive environment, the side effects of treatment are such that individuals with mesothelioma often feel pain and discomfort, nausea, and possibly mental confusion or an inability to focus (known sometimes as “chemo brain”). Due to all of these factors, many people with mesothelioma are unable to work.
Which means that most mesothelioma patients often lose their income. Even those who have some sort of coverage, such as short- or long-term disability insurance, will eventually lose those benefits, given that the prognosis for mesothelioma is so poor. Most people who undergo mesothelioma treatments never return to their regular jobs.
This inability to bring in a paycheck often intensifies the burden caused by the expensive medical treatments described above: Not only are the medical bills so high, but the patient’s ability to pay them is severely reduced. Because of this, receiving compensation from the parties responsible for the person’s exposure to asbestos is incredibly important.
Asbestos Companies Should Take Responsibility
In addition to the physical and medical needs that compensation provides for mesothelioma patients, there also is a moral, ethical, and legal obligation on behalf of asbestos companies to make restitution for the exposures they caused. The vast majority of mesothelioma patients either did not know they were being exposed to asbestos, or if they did, that such exposure would lead to the development of a deadly and painful form of cancer.
By requiring corporations to pay for the damage they’ve done to employees, customers, and others who have come into contact with the asbestos they produced and used in other products, it is demonstrating that we as a society will no longer accept such negligence and casual exposure to dangerous substances. The link between asbestos and cancer is clear, and companies need to take responsibility by taking some of the massive profits they’ve earned while making people sick and using it to compensate victims of that exposure.
Sadly, many asbestos companies have gone bankrupt, leaving relatively little money for the victims of their indiscretions. While some asbestos trust funds have been created as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, these often pay out only a fraction of the money owed to mesothelioma patients, meaning that the victims of asbestos exposure are still required to pay a large portion of their medical and related bills out of their own pockets.
Multiple Forms of Compensation Available
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to understand that you may have a number of options available to pay for medical costs and other expenses. These can include everything from worker’s compensation and veteran’s benefits, to filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund or even engaging in a lawsuit that leads to a settlement or verdict.
To receive a free guide and talk with someone about the options available, complete this form today.