Is High-Profile Convicted Killer Getting Better Cancer Treatments?

High Costs for the General Public

According to the UCLA Hospital System, the total medical bill for a person in the general population who had a diagnosis of brain cancer would be $2.2 million over the same time period.

While a patient without insurance would enjoy a 30 percent discount and consideration for outside financial assistance, noted Roxanne Moster, director of UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, patients are still faced with a hefty charge.

Better Care Behind Bars?

Not everyone agrees with Atiba that apart from the president and Congress, the best care is found behind bars.

While acknowledging that some inmates may receive excellent oncology care, the notion that inmates receive better health care is disputed by Arthur Caplan, the chair of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

"We don't have an easy way to get good quality care into any prison," he said. "You can get care, and sometimes it's not bad.

"They're fine if you have a broken leg; they may not be so good if you have psychiatric problems."

Caplan also noted that while many speculate that some people will commit crimes to get better health care, he hasn't seen any evidence that this is the case.

"People are interested in health care, but they're not interested in getting it as a prisoner," he said.

Unlike Dickensian scenarios, he added, "We won't see people committing felonies so they can get into the poorhouse so they can eat."

And even in California, the health care in prisons hasn't always been that good. In 2006, a number of inmate lawsuits over poor health care led the federal government to take control of the health care in the state's prisons.

Still, Caplan said that people are likely to be calling for limits on what kind of health care prisoners can receive in the near future.

"It's going to become a political issue," he said.

Caplan predicts the problems we now confront about prisoners may eventually become discussed more widely as health care costs rise.

"We have a hard time saying no, even with prisoners," he said, noting that the questions applied to them will become more widespread with time.

"Why are we doing things that are basically hopeless when they cost a lot of money? We don't spend much on prevention, but boy, do we spend money to rescue people."

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