I’m really rather upset about this whole health care thing. I don’t really care who fixes it but someone has to. Do I think @Obama is right? No. I don’t think that making us all buy something from yet another private corporation is the way to fix the interlocking corporate complex that’s busily bilking all of us for every last cent. I give him points for trying but not so much for results.
Before you try to tell me this isn’t a problem, let me start off by telling you some stories. I have too many friends and family members are quietly having some kind of crisis over medical expenses. Let’s begin with my parents. My Dad was career military. After that he worked for the Marshall Service as a US Marshall. He should have good retirement benefits right? WRONG!
He was told repeatedly that he was earning free medical care for life for himself and his wife while he was being shot at in places like Midway and Iwo Jima and Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. He was assured that he’d have care after they irradiated him FIVE times at Bikini Atoll and White Sands, NM at the nuclear test blasts. What did he get? This man who had enough bars, medals and ribbons to cover his uniform literally from the epaulets to his belt – got what everyone else in this country gets once you are old and not of use any more. He got Medicare and Medicaid. He got stuck in some piss-filled nursing home. They tried to medicate him into insensibility. They tried to intimidate him. Not the brightest thing to do with a man who was trained to resist drugging, resist torture and who thinks that a ball point pen is a weapon.
My mother really got the short end of this because in order for him to qualify for Medicaid, she had to spend her own retirement savings down to $2000 total. Now my father has died so my mother’s income just got cut in half. Her savings are gone, thanks to the Medicaid spend down. My mother is stuck sitting in a house full of my Dad’s ghosts which she can’t afford to keep up on her newly reduced income. She can’t sell it because Medicaid owns his half of it. She can’t move out because then it will be sold so that they can take half of it.
Then there is my friend Krystal. Krystal has a good job and so does her husband. They both have health insurance. Despite that, her family has had to declare bankruptcy twice due to her medical bills. Two brushes with cancer and a stroke caused by chiropractor have ruined her family financially. Her children are ready to go to college but they’d best have scholarships because their parents have used every penny to pay for Krystal’s bills. The money that had been put aside for their college funds has been burned up Krystal’s illnesses.
I have another friend, Alyssa. Alyssa is a hair dresser and mostly stay at home mom. Her husband works hard to keep coverage for his family. However, Alyssa has been sick a lot lately. She needed surgery. The hospital refused to schedule the surgery unless she paid the $3000 deductible to them in advance. Nevermind that they probably won’t file first and that the deductible probably won’t even be applied to their bill, the hospital’s billing staff was determined that she was going to pay it up front. This meant that Alyssa had to keep going to the ER each month, which didn’t require a deductible to get periodic treatments and pain medication to manage her condition until she could pay the deductible. Since her ER visits were average $8500 each, it would have been cheaper for the insurance company to waive her deductible and send her for the surgery that ultimately solved her problem.
Then there’s Tom. Tom has a bit of unusual issue. He’s got male menopause or Low T or what ever one wants to call it this week. The short of it is that Tom is at all the same risks for osteoporosis and other “menopausal” problems that women get from not having enough estrogen. Yet his health plan refuses to pay for his testosterone treatments. Why? I think they’re hoping that by the time its an issue for him, he’ll be covered by someone else.
Worst of all is Judy. Judy’s ex husband should have very bad things happen to him. Judy divorced him after she discovered that he had developed a substance abuse problem. She found out that because he had been a bad boy, she now has to pay the price for it. She has Hepatitis C. Hep C, for those who don’t know is a very quiet epidemic. It spreads and remains silent, other than some flu-like symptoms. Most people never find out they have it until liver is failing. Some studies say that infection rates in the USA are as high as 30% of the population (one person out of every three) yet doctors continue to refuse to perform the inexpensive screening test for it. Why? Treatment is EXPENSIVE. Without insurance, people are facing $10,000 per month or more in medication costs alone. With insurance, Judy is facing $750 per month in co-payments for her medication. Judy sold her house and moved in with her parents so she could pay her copays to get the treatment she needs to live. Her copays and her house payment were about the same amount. And Judy was worried that the treatment would make her too sick to work and she might loose the house anyway.
Here are some numbers for you. The entire population of the USA is 311,591,917. Out of that, 2,227,000 filed for bankruptcy in 2005. That’s nearly 10% and that’s from 7 years ago. The numbers have been climbing so fast no one has good data to publish just yet. Of the people who declare bankruptcy, 76% of them started off with health coverage. 62% still had the same health coverage when they filed for bankruptcy. 62% of bankruptcies are due to high (greater than $10,000 in out of pocket costs) medical bills. Out of pocket costs means that is the part that the patient is expected to pay AFTER insurance has paid. 48% of bankruptcies list high medication costs as a contributing factor. And just so you know that this isn’t frivolous bankruptcy, these people are HURTING before they file. 22% (nearly 1 in 4) of them did without food before filing. 30% (1 in 3) had at least one utility shut off prior to filing. 61% (over half) did without medical care. 50% (half) failed to have one or more prescriptions filled. That’s what we want – people do without the care and medication they need to become productive citizens again. Because it’s soooo much better for them to end up on permanent disability……