Rating: 5 / 5
Amanda Bennett’s memoir, The Cost of Hope, tells the story of Amanda’s adult life, from the time she met her first husband Terence in China, through his battle with cancer, and the subsequent years after his death, trying to unravel the mysteries involved in healthcare. The first half of the book focuses on their relationship-how much their personalities clashed, the constant moves, and the journey of raising a family together. The second half of the book focused on Terence’s declining health and the realities they faced battling cancer and, sometimes, battling the healthcare system that is supposed to help them.
After Terence’s death, Bennett spends the following years going through his medical records and interviewing doctors who treated him to decipher the mysteries of kidney cancer, including whether their course of treatment was the correct one, and just how much it all costs.
A couple sections really stood out in my mind:
1) The process and complexities of getting admitted into a drug trial: I admit, having not been faced (me or any family member) with a life threatening illness, I never thought about clinical drug trials. The intensity and comprehensiveness with which Bennett pours herself into finding the right drug trial for Terence is commendable. She also raises the quandary of a doctor recommending his patient for a drug trial even though the trial is not necessary to help the patient.
2) Insurance payments: Like Bennett, I don’t really look at insurance bills/statements that I receive. Usually apart from my co-pay, I’m not charged for anything but prescriptions. I’ve never paid attention to how much doctors’ services cost, how much they bill insurance, or how much insurance pays. Reading about Bennett’s experience really opened my eyes to the difficulties and lack of transparency in maneuvering the healthcare system.
What I really liked about this book was the way Bennett delivers her message. Using her personal experience, she outlines the challenges of today’s healthcare system, but she doesn’t preach and she doesn’t definitively state her opinions on what needs to be done to better current conditions. I highly recommend this book-not only for a better understand of our society, but also because it makes you think, “what would I do I her situation?”