A-Croc-Alypse Now, Health Care

Uninsurable, Part 2: The Voice of the People

I'm grateful for the more than 30 comments on yesterday's post about health care and particularly health insurance. Since some people will read only the post, I will excerpt some of the comments here. (I apologize for not linking to your blogs, if you have them, but Typepad kept trying to turn big blocks of texts into links.)

revmaria, who is like me a clergywoman, writes:

I'm
a cancer survivor and it's hard even to get life insurance! We don't
have a house or substantial savings so any illness could spell disaster
and homelessness for us.

LaReina, one of my first Internet friends from way back at alt.tv.homicide (Vale, Usenet!), shared a story about her sister who, like their mom, had breast cancer:

…my
self-employed sister's policy with a MAJOR health insurance company was
terminated the first/only time she reached her deductible, which was
when she was diagnosed with cancer.

It took them six months to red flag her case and find an excuse to
terminate her coverage. It was mid-way through chemo (and about two
surgeries into what would eventually be five or six) when they dropped
the bomb. She was far more stressed about the insurance situation than
she was about the cancer.

Ten years later, thank God she's healthy, but she's still paying off
the $200K-plus medical debt. It ruined her credit score, making her
ineligible to refinance her house which, ironically, would have freed
up more money each month to pay down the debt.

Auntie Knickers responded to Pam's comment (about being afraid in a British-type system care would be rationed away from people in their 50s) with this suggestion:

I
think Pam might want to check out this website, and I've quoted the
relevant answer to what her physician told her. Although many
physicians are strongly in favor of health care reform, there are those
who for ideological reasons or just plain greed are spreading
misinformation about the health care in other countries.

http://www.ptca.org/forumtopics/topic_health_care_reform.html

Mrs. Redboots, writing from Across The Pond, adds:

I
don't know where your physician got his information from, but he is
totally and utterly mistaken. It is, in fact, mostly older people who
need – and receive – heart operations like stents. My father is 85,
nearly 86, and has recently had two minor operations for carpal tunnel
that he arguably didn't need, but which have improved his quality of
life enormously (to say nothing of the shape of his hands). Is this a
system which denies medical care to its elderly?

Quite frankly, we here in the UK are shocked that people in the USA are denied health care as a basic human right.

Sisterfilms added a younger person's perspective:

If I got
to make the decision, I would hope that America's universal health care
were something like the state sponsored care I have in Land o 10,000
Lakes – I rarely pay a copay and my dental is covered in it's entirety
(OK, I can't get braces or a metal crown, but now all my teeth are
intact!). I pay $29 bucks a month and not much else. Of course, I am
poor, and it would be more if I weren't.

Liz, who knows where I'm coming from, writes:

I'm still
amazed how many people have no idea that they're just one immune system
malfunction or cancer diagnosis away from being uninsurable (and how
many people think neither of those things could ever happen to them
because they eat right and exercise).

We heard from several self-insured free-lancers, both writers and an editor. I cannot imagine earning enough money to lay out $800 a month for insurance when the deductible is $2500, but that is what they are facing. Ruth writes:

I try not
to think about what will happen if one of us develops a serious
condition. We could be so easily dropped and never be insured again.

We worry about the future for our children, for as Deb says:

Our
older daughter takes a maintenance medication that, without insurance,
would cost us hundreds a month. Her regular check ups would cost
hundreds more. It's not a stretch to say that when she tops out of our
health insurance in 7 short years, that I don't know how she will be
insured…

And yet people say that they don't see the need for reforms…

Dr. Sherry is a pediatrician and shared a letter to the editor she wrote last month, which stated in part:

In this
world we ration all our resources. We ration food, gasoline, land, law
enforcement resources, educational resources, the time we give to each
of our children, the attention we give our spouses and much more. All
of this occurs based on the availability of resources and our
individual and collective means to pay for these resources. If you do
not think that Healthcare Resources are being rationed right now, than
you are just not paying attention. What this country needs is to become
more mindful and intentional in how this rationing occurs…

We need
Universal Health Insurance, whether it is through a well regulated
private insurance market that prevents taking of huge profits by
insurance companies at the expense of people's lives, through a public
option plan that competes with private insurance to make them more
accountable or through government provided universal healthcare
coverage..I Do Not Care. But, it must be done, it must be done soon.
What is happening now is amoral.

Finally, I would like to mention that Typepad's spell checker declares that "uninsurable" is not in the dictionary. We should live so long. All of us.


9 thoughts on “Uninsurable, Part 2: The Voice of the People”

  1. Incidentally, many doctors in the UK were against our system when it was first brought in, about 65 years ago now. However, those who worked in poorer areas were all for it – they wanted to see children vaccinated as a matter of routine, not only if the parents could afford it. And those who wish to have kept a “private practice” paid for either by private health insurance (which flourishes here alongside our National Health System), or from people’s own purses; many doctors have the best of both worlds.
    Our system is far from perfect, but it’s a lot better than nothing!
    I assume, by the way, that those who are most vociferously against health care free at the point of delivery and paid for out of one’s taxes do not use the public school system – and also refuse to use public roads, sewerage, rubbish collection or any of the other useful things our taxes provide!

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  2. Songbird, thank you for these posts. Your situation resonates with mine: I have great insurance, but only as long as I’m a state government employee; my husband has a treatable, but incurable form of cancer, diagnosed in 2002, so is otherwise ‘uninsurable’. We are perched on a stool that can become unbalanced at any time, and it feels as if there is no safety net should that happen. Do I feel confident that for-profit insurers will be willing to provide that safety net (at a cost I could afford)? No, I don’t. That’s why I believe the government has to have a role.

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  3. Although I’m one of the aforementioned freelancers with a $2,500 deductible, I’m glad my monthly premium is a bearable $181.60.
    Hmmm….you write for a local paper now and then, Songbird, correct? Perhaps you could sell them on a column about the responses your blog post received – working in the religious angle of course. I mean, look at how many clergy members replied! Given how so many conservatives try to co-opt God and country and paint anyone who disagrees with their “values” to be an un-American socialist heathen, perhaps our public officials could use a wake-up call showing them that is not always the case.
    Last night, on CNN or Nightline (sorry, I was knitting and not paying attention to the channel) there was a story on how anyone can create a “news event” with a loud mouth, cell phone video, and YouTube. Why not do the same?
    Then again, today, CNN’s Rick Sanchez aired something on how well-funded the so-called “grassroots” attacks on healthcare reform and President Obama’s education speech really are. (That’s another topic that riles me – apparently the parents who refused to let their kids watch the president’s address want their kids to grow up as ignorant as they are.)

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  4. The last time I touched on a hot issue, I got much more editorial attention than usual! It was weird. But this is a good thought, thank you, Reina.

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  5. songbird, these are wonderful posts, and comments.
    i’m self-employed and insured via my husband’s work. i don’t see how i could manage the cost of an individual policy, should something happen to that insurance.
    it’s unconscionable that we have so many people uninsured in this country. nearly everyone i know who has insurance also has a horror story or few about arbitrary denials of coverage, or people dropped from plans as soon as they really needed them; we have all seen patient costs skyrocket as benefits decline; this system is insane even for the people it is serving.
    i truly do not see the sense in the huge administrative overhead for doctors, either, whose staff must juggle the disparate rules of multiple insuance outfits and fight them when some desk jocky decides that a procedure is “medically unnecessary.”

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