Pre-Election Thoughts on Healthcare

Back of an Ambulance

Back of an Ambulance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last summer, a member of my family with a chronic disease had an acute worsening in their condition that almost led to their death. My sister calls it a miracle because it is only by chance that we discovered the condition, administered first aid, and got my loved one to the hospital. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God and guardian angels for the decision to check on this person. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what my life would be like if they had died rather than lived.  I find myself still feeling thankful that I didn’t have to plan a funeral. It was the most terrifying, out of control, awful thing I’ve ever experienced and I would not wish the situation on anyone. It devastated my family.

Sometimes, in the wee, quiet hours of the night when I can’t sleep and my mind jumps back to that day, I remember how, at every step of the way, the medical and nursing staff assured me that because we had “good” insurance, we had lots of options. We were lucky, they said, even though it’s hard to consider yourself lucky when you’re standing beside an Emergency Room bed hoping someone will live. At that moment I would have paid any price to save them. Mortgaged my house, cashed out my retirement, pawned every last bit of jewelry, sold my soul. I would have done all of those and more. But I had good insurance and that gave us options. I had good insurance because of Obamacare.

Other families have not been as lucky.

Michelle Morse, a full time college student at Plymouth State University was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004. Unfortunately, in order to remain on her parent’s health insurance, she had to continue at school full time while undergoing her cancer treatment, that or lose her health coverage or pay for her insurance at the higher COBRA rate.  She didn’t have the option of taking time off for cancer treatment.  Since her death “Michelle’s Law,” signed by President Bush in October 2008 has afforded college students with serious illnesses up to 12 months of medical leave without the risk of losing their health insurance.

In 2007, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver,  died from an untreated tooth infection that spread to his brain.  He had Medicaid insurance, but his mother couldn’t find any dentist willing to treat Medicaid patients.  Instead she took him to an Emergency Room, where he was treated with antibiotics and pain medications, and sent home.  Unfortunately the infection in his tooth had spread to his brain and his next trip to the Emergency Room was his last.

It doesn’t take long to find there are plenty of people without options. People who everyday watch their loved ones suffer and die because they don’t have access to healthcare or because they can only get healthcare if they meet certain conditions. But, I was lucky. My family had options.

We didn’t have to worry about the $900.00 ambulance ride. We didn’t think twice about the $3,224.50 Emergency Room stay, the $27,931.11 inpatient hospitalization, or the $5,100.00 and counting outpatient fees. We had good insurance. We had options.

Thanks to Obamacare, many families now have options.  Among other needed changes, the bill prohibited insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and it allowed young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parent’s policies.

And trust me when I say that having “good” insurance gives you options.  One of them is not having to plan a funeral.  And no matter the outcome of the election, I hope that our country can rally behind the idea that all Americans deserve and should have access to “good”  healthcare insurance.  Too many of our fellow citizens have died from lack of it.

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

English: President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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