I ran across a very long rant on Facebook from Angie. It was not unlike others I have seen that makes clear we must secure our healthcare.
After contacting Angie, she agreed to do an interview about the healthcare hiccups she has had to live through. Her voice along with the voices of millions who generally suffer in silence as an immoral healthcare system destroys their personal economies, their financial well-being, and puts them at unhealthy stress levels, must be heard.
Angie has a healthcare story that should make us all act.
I do not want to excerpt what Angie wrote as it stands on its own best in its own context. With her permission here is here full text.
Angie Artzer Truitt’s healthcare story
I have skin cancer. Not the kind that kills you (yet, fingers crossed), but I have had several Mohs surgeries to remove carcinomas from my face. (My derm surgeon removes layer by layer of skin and tests them until he finds a cancer free layer). Scars are visible above my lip and my eyebrow. I have to see my dermatologist every 6 months, and I have a prescription for a topical medication that basically eats the cancer off of my body. I have to use it when new spots pop up, and it’s not a lot of fun because I basically look like a leper while it’s working. I just started treating two spots on my nose and a stubborn place on my forehead where I’ve already had two Mohs surgeries. Without insurance, the medication is $500.
I lost my job during the last recession. I couldn’t afford to continue my medical insurance through COBRA (who can, really?), so I shopped through a very nice broker trying to find a private insurance plan to cover me.
Aside from the skin cancer, I was healthy. Never smoked a cigarette. Other than having tubes put in my ears as a kiddo, no surgeries. One bout of shingles in law school, chicken pox as a kid. I still have my tonsils. Blood pressure, cholesterol were good. Anyway, you get the point. A 30-something woman in pretty decent health.
He couldn’t find any insurance companies who would cover me because of my skin cancer. One offered coverage for everything EXCEPT cancer. Any type. Because I had one type. And that plan with its big gaping coverage hole cost more per month than COBRA would have.
Mind you, I have never had melanoma, but the kind I do have makes me twice as likely to get it as the average person. But that’s precisely the reason I see my dermatologist often and treat the spots I do get.
So, I had no choice but to roll the dice and not have insurance coverage at all while I tried to find a new job. My dermatologist saved me pharma rep samples of the expensive topical cream I needed for my spots because she knew I couldn’t afford to buy it, and I paid out of pocket for my visits. I had no choice. Fortunately, I didn’t need surgery during that 18 month period of my life when I was uninsured. I don’t know how I would have paid for it.
My daughter has a plan in the Marketplace. Obamacare. To cover her on my insurance at work would be almost $700 a month. This plan is a little over $300 a month. It has a $3000 deductible, which is what I have on my employer-covered plan.
A medication she has to take costs $50 a pill. She needs it daily and she will always need it. I’m not good at math, but that’s $1500 for a 30 day supply. I had to pay out of pocket for it the first month because I hadn’t satisfied my deductible yet. There was a manufacturer’s coupon that brought it down to just under $900. But as I picked up the medication that day, I asked the pharmacist how people afford this medication if they don’t have insurance. He shrugged his shoulders. “They don’t get this medication if they don’t have insurance,” he said.
The Supreme Court is considering invalidating Obamacare this term, including the provision which prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. This provision has almost universal support in our country, save and except for the insurance industry. The current administration has stated many, many, many times they will protect people with preexisting conditions.
They joined in the petition to the Supreme Court last night at 11:00 p.m. asking that Obamacare be found unconstitutional. All of it. Including the protections for people with preexisting conditions.
Insurance companies will always make decisions based upon what is going to be the most profitable for them and their shareholders. Their CEOs earn tens of millions of dollars every year because they are good at making profits off of our health. They do not care about us; they care about making money.
If Obamacare’s preexisting conditions protections are gutted, everyone will be affected. Even the people arguing at the Supreme Court to gut them. We’ll be back to the place I was when I was unemployed and shopping for insurance and unable to find any because the insurance companies didn’t want to risk insuring me. I was left to fend for myself. And millions of others will be left to do the same if this protection is destroyed.
20 million people are insured under Marketplace plans. My daughter is insured under a Marketplace plan. Obamacare’s opponents have had 10 years, a whole decade, to come up with an alternate plan since they hate this one so much. They promised to repeal and replace with something better, something cheaper, something with more options, something that would still protect those with preexisting conditions.
Where is that plan?
So if SCOTUS agrees that Obamacare is unconstitutional, 20 million people lose coverage. My daughter loses coverage. The country is fighting a pandemic, and the Marketplace is the only place 20 million of our neighbors and friends can find insurance, and they’ll lose it. People with preexisting conditions are screwed again. All because insurance companies have very deep pockets and politicians are on their payroll.
I joke about wanting to marry someone from another country so I’m guaranteed health care, but this should literally not be a thing. We think it’s the only way because it’s the only way we know. It’s not the only way. It’s the most f&cked up way possible.
People shouldn’t have to be rich to be healthy. But as with so many other things in this country, only the rich have voices. As the old adage goes, “money talks.” And no where is that more evident than in our broken healthcare system.
SCOTUS must do the right thing. They are bound to only invalidate the part of legislation that violates the Constitution. If they do their jobs, preexisting condition protection will survive. The Marketplace will survive. Obamacare will survive. But even that doesn’t solve the problem we have with access to health care in this country.
I challenge the leaders of this country to get their heads out of their a$$es and stop kissing the a$$es of Big Insurance and Big Pharma so all Americans are guaranteed access to health care like every other civilized society has.
I know my skin cancer and my kid’s expensive medication are just two reasons for this, and many people have much more serious health problems and much more expensive treatments they need to stay alive. This is a problem every American faces, except, apparently, our state and federal political leaders who have their health insurance paid for by us.
I hope SCOTUS does the right thing, but whatever the decision is, we must vote for leaders who understand that health care access is a right for all, not a privilege for a few who can afford it, who stand up to Big Insurance and Big Pharma, not take their campaign donations and the strings attached to them, and who fight for our access, not try to take it away.
Angie’s story applies to millions of Americans and will apply to millions more. We are not impotent. As Angie said in the interview above, this is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue.
In most industrialized countries where healthcare is a right, they have Left, Right, Conservatives, Liberals, Progressives, Socialists, and the permutations thereof. The one thing they don’t have is an immoral healthcare system that destroys people’s lives like ours.
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