Thursday, October 08, 2009

More on Health Care Reform

I've been debating whether to post about the recently announced changes - future changes, but changes - in my health insurance coverage.  Then a friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to Keith Olbermann's special comment hour on Countdown the other night.  Here is the link:

It'll take about an hour; but you should watch this.  Everyone should watch this.  Speaking from the heart, he makes the case for a health care system where your income and your insurance coverage doesn't matter.  Every politician who has voted against "the public option," everyone who says we can't have "single payer" because it's "socialized medicine", should be locked into a room with this playing on an endless loop.

Did you know that, if you have no health insurance, your odds of dying, here in the 21st century, are roughly the same as the odds on a poor person dying, who lived in the slums of Manchester, England in 1846?  Olbermann quotes the studies.  How is this progress?  What has happened to our priorities, if we've let ourselves get to a point where you can die for no better reason than that you're too poor to afford treatment, and you have no insurance?  Happens here all the time. 

It isn't happening to me.  I have, right now, what I and others consider some of the best health care in America: the Kaiser Permanente HMO, which covers almost everything.  The trouble is, I have it because of my husband's job; and my husband's employer, which I won't name, has decided that it's too expensive.  In a couple of years, two things will happen:  my husband will retire (sooner than he planned; but if he doesn't, the promise they've made him for 30 years, that he'd have health insurance in retirement, will be broken); and we'll still have Kaiser, but we won't have the HMO.  We'll have an annual cap, and a deductible, and an HSA, and we'll pay for 20% of everything.

Actually, I'm relieved.  What we've been told we'd have was obviously too good to be true.  They've dropped the other shoe, and the result isn't as bad as I was afraid it'd be.  At least we'll still have group coverage.

For me personally, this will make very little difference.  By the time it goes into effect, I'll be on Medicare (government run health care!  OOOOOga!), and my access to Kaiser Senior Advantage won't be touched.  But my husband will be on this plan for something like 9 years, until he qualifies for Medicare; and he'll be retired, on a fixed income.  I hope he doesn't come down with something expensive to treat - like some of the conditions I have.  We're pretty well placed; but medical treatments can eat through the biggest nest egg. 

I have "pre-existing conditions," big time.  I couldn't get individual health coverage to save my life.  (And it would be "to save my life.")  I'm an AARP member, so I might be able to get their group coverage if worse came to worst; but I couldn't get Kaiser, and in anything but the Kaiser HMO, there's the constant question:  how much will 20% of this be?  Can I afford that?  My ongoing medications aren't hugely expensive under the current plan, being mostly generic (who knows what Medicare will be like?), but there are a number of them, and keeping myself supplied, and monitored for side effects, would be prohibitive without insurance.  I could be one of those people, dying because they can't afford the meds and the insurance has maxed out; or, worse than dying, living in constant pain and with reduced ability to function.  That's what the meds do for me; they allow me to function.  But only because I have insurance.

Best health care system in the world, my ass.

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