Health care reform rant

Most of you who know me personally know that I’m allergic to politics and “causes.” (One of those allergies caused by close proximity over the years.)

But as one of those falling thru the cracks, I guess I’d better put on my big girl panties, and say HEY! Let’s get busy & get this fixed.

Because I’m not impoverished, elderly, employed by the government or a major corporation, I can either choose to insure myself or go uninsured & cross my fingers. If I developed a chronic illness while my fingers are crossed (carpal tunnel?), I would NEVER qualify for anything but a (expensive) high-risk pool (which are also often closed to new subscribers.) Because I don’t own a business, I can’t even write off the premiums that I pay- the ones that go up astronomically every year.

Maybe you’re in a better situation. But is your entire family & everyone you love? What happens in the case of job loss (and no, COBRA certainly doesn’t cover everyone.) Or say you want to retire before 65. Or what if you are retired, and your company decides-“Whoops, I guess we can’t afford those premiums after all”? Or you divorce the spouse with the health insurance policy? Or s/he dies? Those are some rotten things to happen- but they happen every day.

I just spent the better part of 3 wks trying to figure out how to get myself insured in Virginia (VA), without losing the coverage I’d had in WA in the meantime. You see, to apply for coverage in VA, you have to be a VA resident. But VA residents are not eligible for plans in WA. So I became a VA resident & then was declined. (except for 2 really expensive policies that don’t cover much. My crime- high blood pressure.)  And they’d notified my WA carrier, who sent me a contract requiring me to state whether I was a WA resident, or be dropped.

So if I had gotten appendicitis yesterday, I probably wouldn’t have been covered by anyone, despite the fact that I have paid my premiums monthly for many years, and have tried my best to follow all the rules.

Today, I found that b/c I have a Blue Cross policy & it’s national, there’s a process for transferring to another Blue Cross provider, without (probably) any pre-existing condition clauses. And I’m covered while they’re sorting it out (which will take a month.)

But this is after contacting a health insurance specialist in VA, the Blue Cross in VA, their “customer help” division,  SHIBA in WA state (it’s a government/volunteer force to help people sort out health insurance issues.) I finally got help from Kristin Manwaring’s office in PT. Thank you Susan, who actually took the time to figure this out. Then another call to Regence, to get them working on it.

So while my situation is stabilized, I keep thinking about those other ppl out there who aren’t quite so smart or so pushy (or hysterical), who took NO for an answer. What happens to somebody who  wants to move to a different state & isn’t fortunate enough to have a Blue Cross plan?

If you’re thinking about them, too, please write to your senators and check out the site. On the home page is a map so you can see your own state’s issues. There’s an article on women’s issues as well.

Yes, your taxes may go up. But you or your loved ones shouldn’t lose coverage (or your house, or everything you’ve worked for)  if you retire early, start a business, lose your job, get divorced or move.  And you’ll actually be getting something for the money.

Thx for listening to my rant. Stay healthy.

3 Responses to “Health care reform rant”

  1. Brad says:

    Sara, I have a very good private policy to supplement my Medicare coverage. But – guess what? – I agree with you completely. We are already paying for everybody’s coverage. We pay through our taxes and through what we and our insurers pay to hospitals whose emergency rooms treat the ailments of the uninsured. This MUST be fixed, no matter how long it takes and how many false starts we make, so that everybody has coverage.

    Now, a question to you who write so well. Why do you leave out the “o” in God? It’s not a nasty oath to say “God forbid,” and I’m with you in thanking God for Susan and others like her. I also thank God that you’ve pushed through to a resolution, and pray that soon such efforts will no longer be needed.

    You maybe should rant more. You are eloquent when you do.

  2. Sara says:

    Hi Brad,
    Thanks for the comment.
    I was following my usual policy of publish first, revise later 😉 I really am trying to watch my potty-mouth; it doesn’t play well in VA. So references to the almighty I’m trying to avoid as well. A little editing took care of the problem.
    You made a point that I’d left out… Yes, we do end up paying for uninsured folks’ medical care, through higher premiums, and b/c hospitals are going broke.
    Lots of pundits and even analysts like to blame these folks for the problems. (I know that wasn’t your intent… the following is for people who are not as informed as I know you are.)
    It’s important to note that in most cases, those “uninsured” who show up in emergency rooms w/no ability to pay are not there b/c they’re irresponsible. They’re there b/c they can’t get (or pay for) regular health insurance, and thus CAN’T have a regular provider. They aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicare, but can’t afford the cost of high-risk insurance AND medical care AND the prescriptions they need.
    So let’s not demonize them- they’re a symptom not a cause.

  3. Brad says:

    Sara, right on! You know I work with the homeless shelter in PT. The MASH free clinic, staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses, is in the same location and I know some of the folks involved. The men and women treated there often work and have an income, but today’s health insurance is beyond their reach. A member of my extended family is in exactly the situation you describe. This person’s spouse is on medicare and both had always paid (a lot) for Blue Cross. When the Medicare started, Blue Cross raised their deductible through the roof. But they couldn’t get any other Medicare supplemental insurance because the person in question has a health condition developed AFTER the Blue Cross began. I.e., all other insurers called it a preexisting condition and refused coverage. So they are stuck paying high premiums and facing a potentially large out-of-pocket deductible expense every year. Who’s to blame? Not the folks involved – they are already paying a larger part of their income than anybody should have to pay to stay healthy. Blame the insurers? They are profit-oriented businesses doing what it takes to turn a profit. So why blame anybody? Let’s just fix it so that we all pay in and everybody gets to take help out. Now look what you did – you got me ranting too!