Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Health Care Shock

Health care reform has certainly been front and center recently among the issues being pursued by the current administration. I’m particularly interested in following progress on this reform, which I feel is much needed. Now approaching my 54th birthday, I am forced to pay more attention to the shadow cast by my past health issues as my COBRA is about to expire and I search for individual health insurance.

I consider myself to be in pretty good health – certainly better now it’s been more than 7 years since I survived colon cancer. Over the past 17 months, I have lost 25 pounds. I have been able to go from 3 prescription medications down to just 1 (for cholesterol). With regular exercise and a low carb diet, I am keeping Type II Diabetes at bay. I see my primary care doctor once a year for labs and a physical. But I have already been rejected for coverage by one major health provider based on my medical history. I’m on to applying to others, but am not terribly hopeful. I may be about to become one of the many Americans without health care coverage, unless we can come up with a creative solution. We’re smart – we’ll figure it out. But it pisses me off that this situation makes me feel that the security of my happy life is threatened.

The forms that have to be filled out to apply for medical coverage are very detailed. In addition to asking about major health issues, like cancer, diabetes or AIDS, you may be surprised to know that they ask whether you have recently or ever been “advised, counseled, tested, diagnosed, treated, hospitalized or recommended for treatment” for any of the following: alcohol use or abuse, illegal drugs, migraines or headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, attention deficit disorder, any form of therapy or counseling, heart condition, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, allergies, sinusitis, bronchitis, hemorrhoids, ulcers, hernia, hepatitis, cysts, psoriasis, acne, breast implants, arthritis, bursitis, thyroid disorder, hearing loss, sexually transmitted disease, warts, impotence…and the list goes on and on. Oh, and are you taking any prescription drugs, do you or have you ever smoked or chewed tobacco, are you pregnant? Are you getting the picture?? (BTW, I’m thinking I should get a credit for any missing parts that have simplified my anatomy and completely eliminated risk of a handful of serious diseases.)

If you do not understand that health care reform is an imperative for our country, I will bet that at least one of the following is true for you: (1) You have always had health insurance through your employer that did not require a physical or a review of your medical history, (2) None of your close friends or relatives have become ill or died as a result of a lack of medical attention due to financial reasons, or (3) You have never really been sick or required a major medical procedure that makes you fear for your long term well being.

We need reasonably priced health care options that allow individuals to preserve their own personal security, while incenting us all to lead healthy lives. Why wouldn’t we want that for our country?

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