Thursday, September 3, 2009

no one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick

This is what is flying around Facebook today.
I'm glad, because this is what the health care reform is all about.

I was without health insurance for 2 years.
I had a catastrophic plan, but I'm sure it was bunk - but it provided something at a time when, according to my Social Security statement, I was earning just over 125% of poverty.

I was free-lancing for a number of companies in the area - many requiring travel and all requiring a high level of physical ability: climbing 60' up scaffolding, using sand-blasters, that kind of thing.

I was thrilled when I was accepted for my masters program, because it meant I could go to the doctor again.

In those 2 years without insurance, I relied on Planned Parenthood for Ob/Gyn - they had a sliding scale - and the one time I had an ear infection, it cost $150 to go to urgent care. My health care was home-remedy websites, colloidal silver, hydrogen peroxide, a healthy dose of denial and generic neosporin - often pilfered from the first-aid kits of the places I worked.

But 2 months before I was to start school, I had a problem - on a job - in another state. My boss made me go to the hospital despite my stance that I had no insurance. It was something internal and they wanted me to have a scan. I argued with the doctor for 30 minutes about this, since I knew the cost would be debilitating, especially as I was preparing to make even less as a student.

I couldn't leave the hospital - the pain was too much - so I had the scan - luckily it was minor and I got out of there before they could even think of admitting me.

When I got home, the bills had already started - that 7 hour span of time was billed as $10,000.

That was a few thousand less than what I was making after taxes free-lancing during an economic slump.

Then I noticed that the hospital was Catholic, so I researched what it would take to get a reprieve.

Turns out, I qualified.

So I filled out the application, and explained my situation, including that I was about to start a degree in non-profit management.

The nuns... well they accepted it and my bills were forgiven.
Except for the cost of the scan - I would pay the $4,000 for the scan and its reading until a year after I finished my masters.

When I have a few extra dollars, I write a check to that hospital for the kindness they showed me - always hoping that one day we could see past our fears of change and find a new way to offer health care, because no one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.


Beth said...

A friend of my husbands had insanely high cholesterol. Medication high cholesterol levels.

He lost his job.
He lost his health care.
He could no longer afford his medication.

He died.

I've always supported health care for all but your situation and the situation of my husband's friends make it very real for me.

I'm lucky enough to have fantastic health care. And everyone deserves to be as lucky as me.

Laura said...

This is an awesome post. It is unconscionable that in one of the richest nations in the world, people's lives are devastated financially or otherwise by illness or injury.

sarah said...

I was just thinking about how all the yelling at the Townhall meeting eclipsed this issue - what if each person who attended these meetings had a sign for someone whose life was negatively affected by the current state of things - I wonder how much could be communicated silently, but profoundly, through such actions.

The AIDS quilt was something that successfully communicated the sheer numbers of people affected - and humanized the issue. Breast Cancer awareness is another example of how humanizing an issue can garner change.

I wonder if there were some project to quickly and viscerally communicate the devastation caused by the existing system's limitations, if that would help make the Justification of Need case better than facts and figures and nuanced arguments.

I love a nuanced argument, but it seems that the current environment is one where people think the First Amendment protects their right to scream so loud that the opposing view is silenced.

sarah said...

MoveOn is hosting real and virtual vigils for those impacted...

But it seems this is preaching to the faithful...

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