Saturday, December 19

Even though it's my birthday ...

...I feel strongly enough about this issue that I have to blog about it. I should have been more vocal from the get-go instead of working behind the scenes most of the time. I just felt too cynical about anyone caring to do much about health care reform. I am feeling bitter and angry and don't have much hope for decent reform but I'd rather say something than nothing at all. At this point, readers may say, "oh, BOR-ing" and move on. Oh well. This affects me kids now and you know how moms get when her kids are threatened. I use "you" generally and don't mean to single out any specific reader or group of readers or people just surfing by.

I got into health care form years and years ago--after Rich's major heart surgery in 1987. When Bill Clinton became president, he and his wife pushed hard for health care reform and I actually had some flickers of hope even though (from other advocacy involvement) I knew that lobbyists have the money and the power and they're the ones that get the Congressmen and Senators to vote for what their clients want. Children and poor people have no power because they can't afford the lobbyists. That's just the way it is.

People may think: oh, well, I already have a good health insurance policy. Why should I care? It's not broken for me. And I don't want my tax money going to support (you fill in the blank: illegal immigrants, "lazy bums", the homeless, etc. etc. . I don't want all this government involvement in my health care. Ahem.

What do you think is already happening? People who can't afford insurance put off going to the doctor. When they do go, treating them is more expensive. When they can't pay, the cost is passed on to everyone else--the taxpayers. And drug companies and insurance companies have already dragged the government in, dictating how we're cared for and where we can get our prescriptions filled.

Going back to the "I already have a good health insurance policy" thought: Rich had a catastrophic health insurance policy in place when he had to have heart surgery. We still had to file for bankruptcy. You think you have a good policy but then something disastrous happens and what then? Also: what happens if you get laid off and you can't afford COBRA? What then? What if you make just a little too much income to qualify for assistance but not enough to get health insurance coverage and pay your bills? And what if, as is proposed in this hellacious bill health care's become, you are *mandated* to buy a policy whether you can afford it or not--or pay a fine? Would you care then?

Here's the personal face on all this--what is happening to me and my family.

When TB became totally disabled in 2006 or '07, we lost health insurance coverage. We couldn't afford COBRA. Since TB and I were both on SSD (social security disability), we could get Medicare...otherwise we would be uninsured now and totally screwed. Because of our health issues, we need a secondary or we'd totally go belly-up. The prescription and secondary plans cost us about $500 a month together. Our children, of course, don't qualify at all for Medicare.

We could get Medicaid (NJ Family Care) for Kristin because she's a dependent minor. The insurance company uses a sliding scale according to income and it does NOT factor in things like mortgage expenses or the fact that TB and I have an income less than 1/2 of what we used to bring in. So we have a co-pay for that. Sometimes we have to rob Peter to pay Paul but we do it because she's got to have the coverage. Now NJ mandates coverage for all children in NJ...I don't know what parents do if they can't afford to rob Peter to pay Paul.

We tried to get coverage for Bill and Heidi because they are full time college students but we couldn't because they both work jobs that put them just over the % above poverty level Medicaid guidelines require. If they weren't college students, they wouldn't qualify for assistance ... period.

Under this reform bill, health care will be mandated for everyone. That means in my kids' case, they will be required to buy a health insurance policy ... or pay a fine. It doesn't matter they can't afford one. It doesn't matter that they can't afford to get their cars repaired, get hair cuts, new clothes or shoes when they need to and that paying their car insurance is such a tight squeeze.

Think this can't happen to you? Read these scenarios to see how the reform will affect you: Health Care Changes: Five Examples. If you live in the United States, one of these scenarios fits you, I'm sure. Heck, maybe you're one of the lucky wealthy ones who doesn't have to worry if you lose your coverage. But more than likely, you're more like me ... or my kids.

If you are, you need to DO something! Get educated! Contact your senators and congressional representatives! Call or write the President. Contact a health reform advocacy group and get involved like I did. If enough people start to DO something, I can shake off the bitterness and disillusionment I feel toward the sheep (the ignorant) and the superior (the uncaring).

Here is what my son wrote:

Dear Senator ...,
I hope you find yourself well. I also hope you've gotten this letter, I know you're busy. If you have, I wonder, what is your opinion on mandated health insurance? I do hope you realize it won't work. It places considerable pressure on the lower middle class, it won't significantly improve their health care, since hospitals don't turn down uninsured patients anyway, and it probably won't reduce their medical bill, either. Have you, sir, ever been a member of the lower middle class, and had a parent get injured, get surgery, and then have to fight the insurance for months, as bills pile up, only to watch this family member forced to take a small out of court settlement because he/she can't afford a lawyer?
Here's a question, what happens when someone, such as myself, hasn't got enough money to afford this mandated health insurance? Would you arrest me senator ...? I'm sure you wouldn't suggest I "get a job," as I have two. You wouldn't want me to quit college to pay for living, I'm sure.
I realize how important it is to reform health care. I do. I myself have attention deficit disorder, and can't afford my own medication. This, sir, is not reform. This is simply requiring people to use an already extant, and quite unfeasible, option. The reason why so much of America is uninsured, Senator ..., is that they can't afford it, not that they need to be told to buy it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, busy as you are,
Bill ...

P.S. So you know, I'm a NJ "democrat," and voted Obama because I agreed with a majority of his positions, including health care. I support socialized health care, not compulsory "paying the wealthy owners of insurance companies for living."

1 comment:

Maire said...

I just had to comment on this. Many people are very ignorant/scared on how much we need national health care insurance in this country. My family over in the UK has it, it's not perfect (either is paid health insurance here) but they don't do without.
We have health insurance through hubby's job. However, we still have to pay for our drugs upfront, and they were running us almost $2,000 a month. Then I lost my job. And no longer have the extra income to cover that.
Something has to change

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