Melanoma – how to avoid it, and how to treat it – is a health issue that concerns most New Zealanders. The debate over Pharmac funding for the melanoma drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) has been a hot topic in the media.
Often, it is only when we hear about “miracle” drugs such as Keytruda and the struggles some Kiwis are facing to get the medical treatment they so desperately need, that we can truly understand and appreciate the real value of medical insurance.
The problem with ‘miracle’ drugs
- Malignant melanoma is the third most common cancer in New Zealand, with 2200 new cases being reported each year. Being responsible for 360 deaths per year, it is the country’s sixth most lethal cancer.
- If caught in its early stages, melanoma can be surgically removed, resulting in a high cure rate. However, if the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body (i.e. metastatic), the 10-year survival rate diminishes to just 10 per cent.
- Historically, the surgical removal of cancerous tissue has been the mainstay of melanoma treatment. Chemotherapy treatments, currently funded by Pharmac, have only achieved a modest improvement in patient outcomes and have had no impact on overall survival rates.
- Although treatments like Keytruda have been proven to be effective, they come at a significant cost. Before Pharmac decided to fully fund Keytruda from September 2016, treaments with the drug cost up to $200,000 per patient.
- There are many more drugs on the Medsafe approved list than there are on the Pharmac list. Pharmac cannot fund all “miracle” drugs as and when they become available.
Our Medical Insurance Solution for non-Pharmac Drugs
What you may not be aware of is that there are health insurance policies available that provide medical cover for Medsafe-approved drugs not currently funded by Pharmac. This means you can have access to the treatment you need, when you need it, whether it is funded by Pharmac or not.
If a disease like melanoma was to affect you, or someone you love, would you be prepared to rely on the public health system? Or would you rather enjoy peace of mind that you can obtain the best treatment available?
Please talk to us about getting the best medical cover for you and your loved ones.