NPR had an interesting segment on the difficulties that many families have paying for cancer treatments. The piece points out that even middle-income families with good insurance may still face co-payments of tens of thousands of dollars a year.

One item not mentioned in this piece is that the reason the prices of new cancer drugs is high is that the government grants companies patent monopolies. This is done as a way to finance research. In almost all cases these drugs would be available for less than a thousand dollars for a year's treatment if the drugs were sold in a free market.

While it is necessary to pay for research, there are more modern and efficient mechanisms than patent monopolies (see chapter 5 of Rigged).