Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Cause To Join

I'm lucky to have a husband whose employer offers health insurance as a benefit, and a fairly good policy even if it does cost us nearly $1,000 per month for family coverage. Even with insurance, our out-of-pocket costs (ranging from co-pays to things that aren't covered by our policy, like my weekly acupuncture appointments) in 2010 were just shy of $9,000. And I know way too many people, who also have insurance, who had higher out-of-pocket costs. 

Then there are the people who don't have insurance. Maybe their employers don't offer insurance. Maybe the poor economy has left them out of work and therefore uninsured. And of course, I know way too many people who are too sick to work and lost their insurance when they lost their jobs, but haven't yet qualified for Social Security disability and Medicare. If I were still single, that's the position I'd be in, and for me, that's the stuff of nightmares. 

Below, I'm sharing a LiveJournal post from author Laura Anne Gilman, who's also known on LiveJournal as suricattus. I came across it initially in a post by one of my favorite authors, Sharon Lee.


There is a move afoot in the nation -- driven by the GOP -- to repeal the new health care laws, to protect corporate interests, to defend against fear-mongering (and stupid) cries of "socialism!", and to ensure that people are forced to choose between keeping a roof over their heads or getting necessary health care.

This movement is killing people.

Think I'm overstating the fact?

Ask the friends and family of writer/reviewer Melissa Mia Hall, who died of a heart attack last week because she was so terrified of medical bills, she didn't go see a doctor who could have saved her life.

From another writer friend: One person. Not the only one. That could have been me. Yeah, I have access to insurance -- I live in New York City, which is freelancer-friendly, and have access to freelancer advocacy groups. Through them, I can pay over $400/month ($5,760/year) as a single, healthy woman, so that if I go to the hospital I'm not driven to bankruptcy. But a doctor's appointment - a routine physical - can still cost me several hundred dollars each visit. So unless something's terribly wrong? I won't go.

My husband worked for the government for 30 years. We have government employee (retired) insurance. It is the only thing of value he took away from that job. His pension is pitiful. He still works part time. My writing income has diminished drastically. Our combined income is now less than what it was before T retired fifteen years ago. Inflation has diminished it further. In the last 30 days I have racked up over $8000 in medical bills for tests and the beginning of treatment. Our co-pay is 20% after the deductible. And there is more to come. Our savings are already gone. I have the gold standard of insurance and I still can't pay all the medical bills.

Another friend lost her insurance when her husband lost his job. She couldn't afford medication and ended up bed ridden for three months at the end of over a year of no job and therefore no insurance until he found work again.

It's our responsibility. All of us, together. As a nation.

ETA: Nobody is trying to put insurance companies out of business. They will always be able to offer a better plan for a premium. We simply want to ensure that every citizen - from infant to senior citizen - doesn't have to choose between medical care, and keeping a roof over their heads, or having enough to eat.

We're trying to get this to go viral. Pass it along.

It's me again. I don't consider this a political post, although I know some will disagree with me. I've been upfront for years now about my belief that the U.S. insurance system is breaking this country. Want another view? Check out this post by a Portland physician, who says it's costing us $350 billion per year to keep our private insurance system. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you will consider contacting your representatives in Congress and reminding them that affordable health care isn't a partisan issue and it's something we all need, no matter what our politics are.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I used to be a manager for a large health insurance company. They lobby like heck to get legislation skewed to their benefit, and they have LOTS of money to lobby - money they don't pay claims with, subscriber's money.

Something is going to happen to healthcare in the next few years if we don't do something. Too many people out of work too long but with too many assets or don't qualify for Medicaid. They are going to end up hospitalized because they don't go to the doctor and what is going to happen then - this is potentially millions of Americans. I may end up one of them myself. sigh.

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Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

People who think that healthcare for everyone is a bad idea haven't usually seen or felt the effects of what it means to NOT have it. My family doesn't have chronic illness to deal with, but ONE situation where we didn't have insurance (husband lost his job) about 2 years ago is still haunting us with several thousand dollars (which we don't think we owe, but how do we fight it?!?) that we kind of look at with puzzlement: How does one pay that off? Can one pay it off?

Chronic illness means chronic debt. How is that good for the patient? It makes NO SENSE. Medical care should be something we can all receive, just like the library, fire dept, police and schooling. I'm not saying that those branches don't have issues, but at least I can call the police and not worry about the BILL.