Discussions, debating, sharing points of view, challenging ideas: these are all things I love.
Expecting these things and receiving a lecture? Not so much.
In 2 weeks we discover what exactly the “open-market” part of “Obama Care” is, causing much chatter as to what it will mean for all of us. The other night someone Tim & I were dining with chose to bring it up, via stating that they had heard people were going to have to inform doctors, even ones like podiatrists, that it would seem ridiculous to tell, of how many sexual partners they’ve had.
Now, I know that this person and I typically have clashing views when it comes to both politics and religion, so I’ve learned to avoid such topics with them, but they had brought it up. I know I could have just said: “Huh, Interesting,” but a while back I realized that a lot of my relationships with people seemed to be semi-fake, because I never expressed my ideas or opinions, mainly for the sake of avoiding arguments and such. This lead most people thinking I agreed with them or having no clue as to who I was as a person. So, I decided I would state my opinion when asked or was really was sick of hearing all about something I truly did not believe in. The latter was the reason that I chose to challenge this persons statement, which in-turn caused a heated discussion -one of those things that I love, so long as the other person gets that we can have differing opinions and that’s OK. I realized during the course of our exchange of words, that this person really had no idea how insurance has been “working” for people like me. The problem I see with that, is if you are going to be vehemently for or opposed to something, do some in-depth research as to what the current alternative is for the person you pick a battle with. By time the conversation was ending, I’m not sure the other person could even understand the point I was trying to make, because they were trying so hard to prove me wrong about something I semi-agreed with them on.
So, I figured I’d share my stance here, so that perhaps others can understand.
First, let me say that I am not a fan of anyone being told they have to buy anything they don’t want to. Do I think it’s foolish not to have health insurance? Yes. Have I personally gone without it before? Yup. I was raised in New Hampshire, though, and their motto of “Live free or die” mostly sums up my beliefs (although, for the record, I’m a moderate), so I think we should have choices when it comes to our health care. The idea of all American’s being on the same plan does not make me happy, unless it were some ultra fantastic plan, which would be really hard, because we all have different wants and needs.
That being said, I don’t think that “Obama Care” is the worst thing ever, in fact, as far as I can tell, it addresses many concerns people like me have. Of course, I understand where people with differing opinions are coming from, and they will be mad if their payments go up and such, but please, try to be sympathetic of those of us with pre-existing conditions. Maybe you think people like me shouldn’t be given slack, you wouldn’t be the first to tell me such things, but just remember I grew up barely even being affected by my hydrocephalus. It came out of the blue when I was 10 and by time I needed my second surgery when I was 20, it was surreal, since it was always a hypothetical “what-if” thing that was discussed. So, regardless of that second surgery, my story would be the same, because any pre-existing condition, is still a pre-existing condition.
Health insurance has plagued me since I was approaching the age one had to leave their parent’s policy. For those graduating when I did, this was when one left high school. I continued on to college, though, so I didn’t really get hit with it until I was in my second semester of sophomore year. This was the semester I had to have my second brain surgery. We found out in mid-Feruary of 2005 and even though Spring Break was only a few weeks away, it could not wait. So, I had the surgery and my father gave me the following choices, with the thought process that either would allow me to have health insurance (since COBRA was too expensive): stay in school full-time or get a full time job. Neither of these seemed conducive to healing, but staying in school seemed a bit less stressful. Soon, though, it was obvious it was too much for me and I dropped to part-time course load and convinced the school to let me stay in my dorm. Did we tell the insurance company? No. Did they ever ask? No -thank God. A few months after this all went down, New Hampshire did pass Michelle’s Law, declaring that Health Insurance could not drop students who had taken time off for medical reasons. Unfortunately, while it could have helped me back then, I didn’t find out about it until I was out of school.
Since the Affordable Health Care Act passed, children can be covered under their parent’s policy’s until age 26, regardless of whether they are in school or not.
When I was approaching graduating college in 2007, I wasn’t sure how I would continue to have coverage. This was right when the economy took a dive and full-time insurance providing jobs were hard to acquire. At first I worked part-time at Starbucks, knowing that had an insurance plan for even their part-time workers. What I didn’t know my entire pay check would pay for it and it would cover next-to nothing. I soon found a better paying job, whose hours clashed, so I took it, and walked away from having insurance. A month later I added a job through a temp agency. Their insurance was inexpensive enough, but again, was not worth what little money I put into it. Thankfully, shortly after, my now husband soon found a job that offered excellent, inexpensive insurance and when we married 2 months later, I immediately had coverage. It was a crummy job, that consisted of being in a freezer in the negative digits all day, which we knew couldn’t be overly good for his health (and it wasn’t), but like I said, the economy was down. Any new jobs we found, their insurance was much higher, yet their pay was not.
Then 3 years later, Tim lost his job, while the current company I worked at didn’t even offer health insurance, so we took the new job Tim had just been offered (since we had been trying to live closer to my doctors in Virginia for a few months now). The timing was great. The pay? Low. The insurance? Super expensive and it didn’t cover any of the not-so-traditioal therapies I needed (whereas our previous insurance did) and we’d have to wait 6 months for it to kick-in.
This is when I finally learned the facts about insurance. COBRA, costing the same as our rent, was out of the question, because as much money as we had saved, it wasn’t enough to cover that and emergencies. Although, if I wanted continuous full coverage not dependent on Tim’s job, I would have to stay on COBRA as long as his previous company decided -up to a year and a half- then I could jump to the other super expensive private policy, with no interruption in coverage. I could not simply switch plans right then. So I applied around and was rejected from most private policy’s due to pre-existing conditions (one company didn’t even site Hydrocephalus as their reason for rejection, rather, it was my history of migraines, which I haven’t had in years). The remaining plans cost as much as our rent and wouldn’t cover my pre-existing conditions for 6 months. We made too much money to qualify for Medicare and I wasn’t on disability, so I couldn’t get Medicade. There was the new plan, through the government made for people like me (part of the initial changes, prior to insurance company’s not being able to reject those with pre-existing conditions), but you had to have no insurance for 6 months, before you were able to be accepted into it, where at least with a short-term policy I’d have everything but pre-existing conditions covered. So that’s what we did and 6 months later we agreed to pay way too much for not much coverage (but they did cover childbirths, at which point adding this new being to our plan would bring our premium up to roughly the amount Tim makes in the non-busy season, and yes, this is the cheapest plan his company offers).
In contrast, during our time of being privately insured, we found a $100 a month policy for my husband, that had rather nice coverage. Tim’s ridiculously healthy. Did I mention, that while I -who barely drinks and has never smoked or done drugs- have these troubles getting insured, there are plenty of people able to become insured with no problem who do these things that cause tons of health problems. Yeah, not cool.
So then came they point where we thought about moving. We had discovered that because of this Affordable Health Care Act, states were creating high risk pools that would inexpensively cover people who usually can’t get insurance. Hydrocephalus was one of the things on that list and just 30 minutes away was a Maryland, with one of these high-risk pools. We started to apply to jobs there, but then learned that Maryland has politics much like Massachusetts, which wasn’t so fun to deal with when we lived there, so, along with a few other reasons, we chose to no longer move there. We entertained the idea of returning to New Hampshire, since they also have one, but upon speaking with my doctor we were told Neuro-feedback isn’t that good north of the Hudson River.
In 9 days, on October 1st, we find out what my options are and as far as I can tell, it’ll only benefit us. We’re used to paying out of pocket for my care, so really I’d just be happy to have an inexpensive policy that covers major problems. But really, just the ability to have a policy, independent of whether or not my husband is working (you know, like car insurance) would be nice.
I know “Obama Care” is one highly controversial topic and I wasn’t rooting for it, ever, but, something needed to happen to help people like me. Finally it seems like it has, meaning tons of people can get past this wall in their lives. You might pay a little more, but I’ll pay a ton less, meaning I can finally receive even more of the care I need, get well quicker, and move on with my life. My husband won’t have to tie what jobs he takes, to me and my healthcare. Life will be better. If it’s not, I will admit it, but for now, I’m choosing to see all the positive things already brought forward by this (and this isn’t a full list of how it’s impacted me), rather than even consider all the “Well I heard…” comments. I’ve seen that it’s helping, and no it’s not perfect, but it is helping, and hopefully we can make it even better with time.