Sunday, July 19, 2009
For those who may be wondering where I've been the last five weeks, I have been experiencing the American healthcare system first hand. I now feel eminently qualified to have a voice in the public healthcare debate and have spent the last five weeks railing at the suits in Washington, Republican and Democrat because I'm exactly the kind of person that healthcare reform needs to help and they are totally missing the boat.
I should start out by saying that I have health insurance even though private health insurance companies turned me down due to pre-existing conditions that I no longer have. 7 years ago I was a type II diabetic but then I lost 150 lbs. and my diabetes went away along with a lot of other conditions. I completely turned my life around and began exercising and eating sensibly. But for all their talk about rewarding people for healthy lifestyles, I am marked for life as being uninsure-able because I had these conditions at one time.
So how did I get insurance? My insurance is courtesy of the state of New Mexico. I got my insurance through the state high risk pool--that dreaded government interference that is available in some states. If it weren't for the government subsidy I would be declaring bankruptcy today.
However, the only insurance I could afford is what they call catastrophe insurance which means I must meet a $5000 deductible before it begins to pay. Knowing something awful might happen I made sure that I had $5000 in savings but without a job it was getting harder and harder to keep that cushion.
The $5000 deductible is what kept me from getting immediate care when I first started having abdominal pains. I'd had pains like that before and they went away so a trip to the emergency room which would cost me at least $1500 was something I wanted to avoid. So I waited through three day of pain and vomiting before I gave in and went to the ER.
Of course when I got there my condition was pretty dire. I had an obstruction in my bowel. Since I couldn't hold down any liquids, I was dehyrated almost the the point of kidney failure an my blood pressure at that point was dangerously low. They admitted me to the hospital and tried to figure out, if possible, a non-surgical way to clear the obstruction.
I was hooked up to IVs for fluid and medication and could have no food or drink by mouth. I was kind of out of it, but I clearly remember day two when I got a visit from the hospital's finance office. They mentioned the $5000 deductible and wanted to know how I was going to settle my bill. In my state of grogginess, I handed over my Visa card and said "hey, at least I'll get miles for it."
The rest of this rant which I am calling "Healthcare, the good, the bad and the ugly" will continue in the next few days as I unravel that whole story.