Monday, April 24, 2006

Covered

I've always felt really fortunate, medically speaking. My husband has a good job with benefits. And we can afford (barely) to pay extra for the privilege of having PPO coverage, instead of being at the mercy of HMO coverage. We've been able to choose our doctors, which is important to us, given our son's special needs and our daughter's asthma.

As the years have gone by, we've gotten less and paid more. Much, much more. My husband had a heart attack not too long ago. At virtually the same time, our prescription co-pays shot up from a high of $15 per prescription to a high of $45 per prescription. No big deal if you don't take too many meds.

My husband takes seven different medications due to his heart disease and accompanying issues. My son takes three to help manage his autism, and my daughter three for her asthma. Oh, and add two for me. Most of these are not generic medications. Start your calculators, my friends, and you'll see what we're doing with our money rather than taking the kids to Disneyland or getting a minivan.

But our insurance woes are nothing, NOTHING, compared to so many others. While Wellpoint, owner of various for profit Blue Cross/Blue Shields across the country, makes billions of dollars a year in profit, millions of Americans are going without basic health care during critical illnesses. And Medicare Part D, far from making it all better, is making life worse for many.

The NYTimes had a disgusting article earlier this month about how the various loopholes in Part D are making it nigh on impossible for many cancer patients to afford their medications. People are dying, folks, because they can't afford medication meant to save their lives. Specifically, they can't afford the sky-high copays being required by Plan D. There are supposed to be safety nets in place for those of low income to help cover those copays. But how many of us could afford a copay of $2800? Each month?

And it's the people who are desperately ill, who can ill afford the energy and the time, who must fight the insurance system to get coverage. Why? Because their illnesses cost so damn much. Cancer is an expensive proposition. Read Cathy Siepp's story on her battle with both lung cancer and BCBS (no, it's not her fault, she never smoked). Her insurance coverage is failing her. And she's one of the lucky ones, as she understands the system and is willing to (as she is physically able) fight it.

What kind of country are we, exactly, when we reward corporations with billions of dollars in tax cuts, allow them to earn billions of dollars in profit, and let them literally nickel and dime and dollar people to death? Ah, yes. A Republican Country. A country that is more concerned with money than humanity, more concerned with milking others rather than giving the milk of kindness.

I don't know what my out of pocket cap is. But I think I ought to find out. Maybe you should, too.
Later,
Liz

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