Otolaryngologists understand that even their most loyal patients, with finances ravaged by the lingering economic recession, may postpone or forego endoscopic sinus surgery, tonsillectomy or a chemical facial peel in favor of paying the mortgage.
Explore this issue:April 2010
But specialists such as Rajiv Datta, MD, a head and neck oncology surgeon and medical director of the cancer center at South Nassau Communities Hospital, are now seeing the almost unthinkable effects of financial misery on their patients. Some patients with head and neck cancers who have lost their jobs and their health insurance are skipping life-saving treatments because of financial fears triggered by the recession.
“I currently have a patient with thyroid cancer who needs endoscopy, surgery and nuclear medicine. He lost his job and is so nervous about paying his mortgage that he cancelled his surgery and won’t even talk to our social worker, who is willing to explore ways to help him financially,” Dr. Datta said. Even when Dr. Datta explained that the hospital’s charity care, emergency Medicaid and the county might cover some costs, with a radiology clinic offering pro bono services, the patient still balked.