It’s hard to think about. The healthcare industry would be rocked if a cure for cancer was produced, and probably couldn’t afford it. Cancer is a huge problem for our country and world, but it’s also a huge business. From what I’ve read, it can be one of the more profitable specialities of many providers. Estimates put it at $150B in direct expenditures treating/managing cancer in the US, with an additional $100B in related costs.
Imagine if a “vaccine” for cancer was discovered tomorrow (albiet unthinkable right now). There are thousands of hospitals that make big money off of treating cancer, and many more private practices. Cancer patients create revenue for providers at nearly all levels, from labs to imaging to surgery to chemotherapy (pharmacy) to radiation therapy to post-operative care, etc… There are thousands of oncologists in this country. 40% of R&D from big pharma is dedicated to cancer. Perhaps they could re-allocate resources towards other specialities, but there are countless billion-dollar tertiary care facilities focused exclusively on cancer throughout the country.
While we all want cancer to be cured, one has to think, with cancer being such a big business, how bad do the big providers also want it cured? I’m not talking about the brilliant and talented physicians and researchers tirelessly working for their patients and institutions towards a cure, but the business operations at a higher-level.
If anyone has any anecdotes / history lessons on how our healthcare system has reacted to a major disease being cured (ex. Polio?), I’d love to hear it.