31 August 2007

Cancer Society focuses ads on uninsured

The New York Times reports today that the Cancer Society's $15 million ad budget for the coming year will focus on the uninsured. The article notes, "The campaign was born of the group’s frustration that cancer rates are not dropping as rapidly as hoped, and of recent research linking a lack of insurance to delays in detecting malignancies."

Other disease-fighting charities have applauded the move.

Before we get too misty-eyed about what a good sign this is, let's point out that the Cancer Society's theme is the "consequences of inadequate health coverage." That promotes buying more health insurance, putting more money into bonus checks to Aetna executives at the expense of struggling families. j

Then again, before we get to cynical, the Cancer Society risks its funding with these ads from foundations associated with the obscenely profitable medical-industrial industry. That money is crucial to the existence of the society. They have to walk a fine line here.

Celinda Lake's research shows that fear entrenches the status quo. Hopefully these ads will inspire anger and not fear. Which will it be?
One features images of uninsured cancer patients, appearing hollow and fearful. “This is what a health care crisis looks like to the American Cancer Society,” the narrator begins. “We’re making progress, but it’s not enough if people don’t have access to the care that could save their lives.”

The other commercial depicts a young mother whose family has gone into debt because her insurance did not fully cover her cancer treatment. “Is the choice between caring for yourself and caring for your family really a choice?” the narrator asks.
The NYT piece also refers to a 2003 study estimating that one of every 10 cancer patients was uninsured and other surveys that "have found that one of every four families afflicted by cancer, which is projected to kill 560,000 Americans this year, is effectively impoverished by the fight, including one of every five with insurance."

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