Watching The Bottom Fall Out
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
This is very long but very important blog and I hope you will take the time to listen as this affects all of us.
Yesterday was a sobering day for us. My hubby came home from work obviously depressed. Two employees he closely works with who are related, one female and one male, had a life altering experience yesterday. They got a call that their husband/father was not feeling well and he ended up in the local E.R. The wife left work to be with him but her step-son continued to work. She later called her step-son and told him to come to the E.R. immediately because his dad's heart had stopped. The man was only 52 and he died. He was a heavy smoker with a dismal family history of heart disease - a powder keg waiting to explode. So the first thing I want to say is that if you smoke you need to quit. Seriously, no more excuses. If you have a family member who smokes you need to nag them incessantly until they quit. When I was younger I did this to my own father and he quit. Today he is 86. He would not still be here had he continued to smoke. I don't have any family members or, for that matter friends here, that smoke. That makes me very happy.
This info would be bad enough to digest but there is more. My husband's work doesn't provide major medical insurance as it is too expensive in my area. At the recent Christmas party I learned from this female employee that they didn't have any health insurance at all. They didn't like The Affordable Health Care Act so they opted out and paid the fine every year. As a nurse, I immediately felt a sick sense of doom for her and I attempted to get her to change her mind and sign up. I could tell she didn't want to listen. No one ever wants to listen. So now she has lost her husband and will have an astronomical medical bill. I pray that she has life insurance and had minimal debt prior to this. Even so, her lifestyle just took a major turn for the worst. It's bad enough to lose your loved one and his income, let alone be plunged into substantial debt. Years ago hospitals would often help people with these bills as the government required them to but, of late, hospitals have been chided for giving the least possible amount they are required to provide. It is often given to the neediest people who they know are not going to pay anyway as they are homeless or destitute. This woman may end up sued, have her wages tapped, have to make payments, have to declare bankruptcy, sell things other than her home to pay this bill. It's a nightmare. All because everyone likes to think - this could never happen to me...................Sorry, but I know for a fact it can. I have seen patients have heart attacks and strokes who died in their 20s and 30s. People of all ages doing every day activities end up dead or with lifelong handicaps from multiple causes like accidents, undiagnosed health problems, chronic diseases, infections, etc. Are you aware that many insurance policies have lifetime maximum payouts? It often sounds like a large amount but when I worked in Critical Care I saw plenty of people meet and exceed those limits.
In contrast, I have a friend who recently had a heart attack and ended up in E.R. BRIEFLY before she was transferred to another hospital. Her bill was over $6000 for the E.R. visit. She had Medicare so her out of pocket expenses were $80. She is struggling to get her strength back but at least she is not facing monetary challenges. This is about the best any of us can hope for.
I know many people, for political reasons and economic reasons, don't like the Affordable Health Care Act. There are definite problems with it but the Affordable Health Care Act does offer insurance for a substantial part of the population who would not have it otherwise. Bronze monthly premiums are fairly cheap or even free for most people who apply. Many others qualify for subsidies. The Act sets limits on the total amount of out of pocket expenses you can owe. For a Bronze policy that is somewhere between $14,000 - $15,000 a year. The Silver policies cost more in monthly premiums but if you can afford them they are often a third of that amount for total out of pocket yearly expenses. For many of us this is a lot of money but a drop in the bucket to what it costs if you have a major medical problem like this. Would you rather owe $15,000 or a $100,000? I can guarantee as a former Mobile Trauma Nurse, Critical Care Nurse, and Coronary Care Nurse that this man's bill won't be anywhere near as cheap as my friend's bill was and they most likely won't have the money to pay it.
The majority of people want changes made to the Affordable Health Care Act. I would fall into that group. Most people who now work in or have worked in the medical field know that the best option is universal health care, like most former "superpower" countries have. That was what President Obama And Senator Ted Kennedy wanted but could not get because too many government officials in charge were against it and always has been. They are, in general, anti big government and anti social programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security and, now that they are in charge of our government, their current agenda will be to scale these programs back or eliminate them. These programs are very expensive but they are popular and almost all people depend on them. The key to reforming them should be about getting rid of the abuses in the programs, which are many, and prosecuting those responsible for the abuses whether they are providers or patients. The Affordable Health Care Act will be repealed during a time when less and less people have access to health care through their jobs as many companies are phasing it out. It has become too expensive for both employers and employees because what was lacking in the Affordable Health Care act was limits on how much the insurance companies and even medical providers can charge. Both of their prices are out of control and our leaders don't like to set limits on business profits. It is a sticky subject.
I don't profess to know the solutions to these complicated problems and my fear is that our leaders don't have any acceptable solutions either. When the Affordable Health Care Act is repealed and replaced I hope it is by something better but I'm not optimistic due to past experience with this. To be honest, I see the government fail a lot no matter which political party is in office. I have lost faith in them. If the new plan isn't an improvement then we all need to demand that something is done because this affects all of us. Yes, I said all of us, because when this woman can't pay this bill those with insurance will be paying it for her. The losses are passed on with higher premiums and your boss will not absorb these costs so they will passed onto you in some way. Your employer may eliminate health insurance, which is what often happens here as we live in a rust belt state. Or you will have to contribute more to your insurance, get less coverage, your yearly raise will be scaled back or eliminated, jobs will be eliminated or cut back to part time and your work load will increase. But, you will definitely pay. No doubt about that.
People of America may disagree on many things but this is one thing that we all should be in agreement about. All American citizens should have access to affordable health care. No one should die due to lack of it. We live in the only real "superpower" left in the world and should not deny our citizens a basic right which other modern countries all have. It's time for all of us to stand up and be heard and not idly stand by wringing our hands with an "there is nothing I can do" attitude. There is plenty you can do. To start with you can start letting your representative know how you feel on important subjects like this. Almost all of them have websites where they discuss what is going on in government. They hear plenty from wealthy vested interests. Our leaders are spending YOUR and MY money. It's time that you demand that they spend it wisely before you end up a victim of circumstance like this poor woman. All I can do at this point is pray for her. It is definitely too little, too late.