Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On the Other Hand...

Jill over at ModernMommyblog has a really great post up on health care in America. She has great statistics on who is living without health care in this country, great links on where to find more information and she explains that she believes that health care is a right, not a privilege.

I happen to agree with her 100%, so I do not want this post to be taken (by anyone, but especially by Jill) as a snarky attack on her or her beliefs or on the millions in this country who live each day in fear of an illness which will make working impossible and which they do not have health care coverage to survive. Living in this country should guarantee a person the RIGHT to vaccinations, to doctor's visits and, especially, to coverage during an illness that may be catastrophic without it. And a person should not have to cash in their retirement or that of their spouse to have access to it!

But let me tell you a story. I will keep it as brief as I can, but it is fairly long and involved. I hope it is not too boring.

I have not taken the coverage offered by my company since I got married due to the fact that DSD is retired Navy and once we were married, we (my son and I) were automatically covered under Tricare Standard. My employment history (since I got out of the AF in 2000) is a little difficult to explain, but I have never NOT had coverage during that time. When I was hired for my first post AF job, my friend told me I was asking for too much money. I explained that I could just stay in the AF if I was not given my asking amount because I HAD TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD the insurance. Sure, it was more money than I was making on active duty, but none of it was tax free and I was paying my own insurance premiums, so I was actually taking home less money.

This brings me to Sandy. I have worked with Sandy on and off since that first post AF job in 2000. We work for the exact some company. She (at that time) was the single mother of a teen age daughter. I was (at that time) a single mother of a pre teen boy. Since then her daughter has grown up, left home and reproduced THREE times at government expense. Her children are still covered by Medicaid. Sandy CHOSE, all this time, to NOT sign up for the company health plan. Even now, when new employees must provide proof that they have other health care coverage or take the company insurance, she doesn't have to because she is grandfathered.

Sandy was in a pretty bad car accident a little over a month and a half ago. She is still not functioning too well; she still has some pain in her back and in her knee and she can not afford to go to the doctor as often as she needs to be seen. It has been recommended that she get an MRI. She can't afford it. Physical therapy is probably necessary. She can't afford it. I don't know what else she probably needs, but she can't afford it. She has been known to beg for narcotic painkillers from some of the people we work with. People for whom it would be illegal to give her those drugs.

I know that health care coverage in this country is expensive. Our company actually provided great coverage at a fairly reasonable price. BlueCross/BlueShield for 1 adult, 1 child was costing me less than $250 a month at the time I got married. Still expensive, yes, but I managed to pay it and (according to Sandy) I make almost $10,000 a year less than she does.

I do believe that this country should do something to help the uninsured. But I also believe that people like Sandy make it so much harder for those who are really struggling to pay their premiums, whose children aren't covered or are sick and can't get help because they don't have insurance.

I know there are those who believe it inhibits their rights to be forced to buy health care, either company or government. But it is people like Sandy who are ruining it all for the rest of us.

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