Is Medicare Free For Seniors?

Is Medicare Free For Seniors?

RACHEL: I'm actually on medicare.

KAYE: It's a program for retirees and the disabled, but she's not sure how much longer she can afford the roughly $9,000 a month for her medications.

RACHEL: When you're over 65 and on a fixed income, it's a struggle.

KAYE: Rachel says the $4,500 a month that insurance paid for her cancer drugs was the difference between being able to cope with her illness and falling behind on rent payment.

RACHEL: I don't know what I'm going to do.

KAYE: It's exactly what the makers of the new cancer drugs hope won't happen.

Dr. Craig Thompson is the president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

DR. CRAIG THOMPSON, PRESIDENT, A.S.C.O.: We continue to put a lot of pressure on the companies to make sure that these drugs are priced in a way that doesn't put the patient at risk and allows them to access the products they need.

KAYE: In the case of Keytruda, patient copays are now as low as $200 a month.

Dr. Thompson says manufacturers are doing what they can to keep costs down.

DR. THOMPSON: The prices are the prices that the market will bear. And, again, our hope is that the patient does not bear the brunt of that.

KAYE: Still, some are concerned.

DR. PETER ARNETT, HOSPITALIST, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCHOOL: What we're seeing in cancer is a lot of price gouging. And, in fact, it's a lot more egregious than what we have seen in other areas of our health care system.

KAYE: Dr. Peter Arnett is a hospitalist at Vanderbilt University Medical School.

DR. ARNETT: Cancer drugs that cost $100,000 a year, which is what the initial prices for some of these drugs were, and they've come down now. But that is still a significant amount of money.

KAYE: When he talks to patients, he tells them to be active in the process.

DR. ARNETT: To make sure that you have a voice in getting a drug that you need, that you're comfortable with the price, and that you are aware of the side effects.

KAYE: As for Rachel, she says she's hoping that her oncologist will be able to get her the drugs she needs for free.

Rachel says she doesn't like taking advantage of other people.

RACHEL: I don't like depending on other people to help me.

KAYE: But she's willing to do whatever it takes for another chance at life.

RACHEL: I'm just hoping that I can make it to be with my family for a while longer.

KAYE: For her, the price of a miracle is worth every penny.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: The "Price of a Miracle" hour continues, next on NEW DAY.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, when I got the call from my agent and he said, "They want you for 'The Price is Right.

'" I was like, "OK, OK, who wants to go to California and play The Price is Right?



[05:54:55] BERMAN: And the price of a miracle, how a one-time appearance on "The Price is Right" led to a debilitating medical condition.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my gosh, I won! I won!

BERMAN (voice-over): An athlete, a husband, a father comes close to losing it all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, that's what that sums up my life at that time, being a father and trying to be a successful businessman.

BERMAN: This is the story of former college football player Ben Herbert, who was a backup quarterback at the University of Oklahoma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a pretty serious concussion during the first half of my freshman year. And for the next six years, I played in a lot of games, went to a lot of practices, and I never went back to the doctor to get cleared.

BERMAN: Ben and his family have given us exclusive access to a new documentary about his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes you get a little dazed. And sometimes he gets a little dazed.

BERMAN: The film contains never-before-seen footage as well as some of the people close to Ben speaking out for the first time about this debilitating condition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he doesn't get help, he's not going to make it.

BERMAN: Ben was a member of the Oklahoma University football team in the mid-1990s. He was an all-American quarterback for the Sooners, but like so many other players, he suffered a concussion during a game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a pretty good hit. And I was able to finish the game. But I had a lot of trouble remembering where I was and what I was doing.

BERMAN: Ben's injury was career-ending. He was forced to give up professional football.

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