Healthcare remains a HOT issue in the U.S.! But if people actually took the time to read for themselves what is going on, maybe they would not be so frightened. Ignorance is bliss, but I ask that you take the time to try to learn about what you think you are afraid of – Let’s turn on the lights and see the is no Boogie Man!!!
The highlights of the immediate change are:
- No more caps on severe or catastrophic illnesses.
- Help for the uninsured with pre-existing conditions.
- Children will be able to remain on parents insurance until age 26.
- Drug discount for seniors.
The highlights of changes for 2014 are:
- Health insurance exchanges will be created to help insure small businesses, self-employed and the uninsured.
- Health insurance will be required or individual will be penalized.
- Medicaid expansion.
- Tax breaks for families based on income.
I find none of these to be bad. I see no reason for this to cause concern or alarm.
Here is my story – I am an uninsured American that has found refuge in Colombia, South America. I have had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for over 13 years and a few years back, my doctor determined I needed to be on disability. I had worked for over 25 years and since I knew I had MS, I thought I had prepared for the possibility I would not be able to work one day. In this post I will not even begin to describe the problems I have had with Cigna (my private disability insurer) but will only focus on the healthcare insurance aspect. During the process of being approved for disability I was paying for my health insurance through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). I moved from private short-term disability to private long-term insurance then to Social Security Disability and this process took all the time COBRA covers and left me 4 months uninsured. I thought once on Social Security Disability I would have Medicare and was STRESSED to find out that I would have to wait 2 years to qualify for Medicare which meant 2 more years with no health insurance while living with MS. Bush was still President and there was NO discussion of Healthcare Reform. I began looking for alternatives and even applied for Medicaid. The results.. even just with disability… I made a whopping $8 a month too much to qualify! So I found myself living at home with my family (who does not have the money to help me but tries all they can) with no insurance, no alternatives for insurance and a chronic illness getting worse.
My search for alternative places began with looking for climates that better suited my condition. Colombia fit this need. Then I found Colombia has private insurance companies that do not cover pre-existing conditions, government option health insurance (called E.P.S.) which residents pay an affordable price to participate in and does cover pre-existing conditions, and there is also a system that is similar to the U.S. Medicare/Medicaid that assists the very poor and senior citizens for free. I also found that prescriptions are also covered. One of my medications in the U.S. with no insurance cost $1,500 a month (more than I make each month) and the other treatments have higher or similar costs. I began to investigate how I could an American participate. It turns out… there is a law requiring residents to have health insurance and the Colombian Consulate was happy to give me a resident visa. The U.S. cannot consider a plan that works for another country because this system does not kiss the insurance companies asses. It turns out Colombia has not only addressed the issue of Healthcare, but also immigration reform (they like to let visitors come as tourist and enjoy that they want to be residents as well), gays can receive equal governmental benefits via a civil union (everyone gets civil unions here from the government gay or straight and the church issues marriage certificates), and although drugs may be made in the jungles of Colombia… there is no drug epidemic in the cities of Colombia like in the U.S. I have found that Colombia is much more progressive politically, socially and environmentally on issues American can not even discuss civilly.
Recently I posted on my facebook page “Americans are upset about healthcare reform. I ask you to take one second and quit complaining about how this may affect you and take time to be thankful for the millions that have not had access that will be able to have insurance without having to leave the country”. This is an actual response from a relative of mine “Since you are on disability and had health care and still made the decision to move out of our country, I really don’t want to listen to you discuss what is going on here. You lost that right when you chose to leave. Key word here: CHOSE.” I had to explain that I dd NOT have healthcare and asked what choice she would have made. I explained my situation and here is her response, “You are right; I had no right to say anything to you. This is a very touchy situation and those of us that have worked hard for our health care had rather not have to pay for healthcare for those sitting on their butts living on welfare! Let’s all quit our jobs and let the Gov’t completely support us! Get real Tommy. Do they have welfare in Columbia? Yes, this free health care works great in countries that don’t have welfare. Our country can’t afford it, and we shouldn’t have to suffer because of it!” The U.S. cannot afford this? The U.S. has spent close to $1 trillion on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (http://costofwar.com/), but the U.S. government cannot afford healthcare? Since when did war become more affordable and more important than citizens health? Why does healthcare cost so much to begin with?
I guess I had not worked hard enough while working for 10 years with Multiple Sclerosis. lol About 11% of Americans are on welfare and ALREADY have Medicaid (government-run healthcare), so what else is she thinking she will have to pay for the people sitting on their butts that she does not already pay for? Healthcare reform is for the people who do not have access to insurance through work (opps working people), people with catastrophic illnesses (we understand it is expensive to treat cancer… but after X amount, you are not worth covering and that is acceptable behavior for insurance companies), people with pre-existing conditions (damn lazy people who have sat on their butts and not curing the diseases they have) and uninsured ( people who cannot pay crazy expensive health insurance premiums with honest days wages – they should have gone to college and let the illegal immigrants have their low paying job), and expanding Medicaid (OMG poor people, when they get sick… we should just put them to sleep like an old dog). But an expansion of Medicaid would help cover the working poor not the freeloaders sitting on their butts. So lets not reform or change anything because “I (any American)” might have to pay something more for the less fortunate!!
Contrary to her opinion, I did work hard, I tried to be prepared for illness or disability and my CHOICES were taken from me, my preparation was useless. Few Americans realize how close they are to being in my situation. But I have resolved my issue of not having insurance by taking extreme but necessary changes. I would love to know what choices I had that I did not consider before leaving the United States? I would like to know what others would have done in my situation that I had not already tried.
This blog will continue tomorrow I have only commented on one statement I find completely confused about and do not understand as a response to healthcare reform. I will discuss one of these comments and if time permits both:
“Nebraska Senator’s status: Obama’s healthcare plan was written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn’t read it, signed by a President that smokes, funded by a Treasury Chief that didn’t pay his taxes, overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by …a country that is nearly broke. What could possibly go wrong?”
and this comment and exchange:
“Everyone, your new Medicaid card is now in the mail! Bad day gang!”
Hey, Thomas! I was glad to read your blog although I which the story you portrayed was just that a story and not your history. You know, we all come to this controversial subject from our own perspective. I totally understand yours! I am in the healthcare field, and know we need reform. I just don’t believe this bill is the correct way. We need healthcare insurance and/or tort reform. And, that is just part of the problem. The other problem is the fact that you can not legislate personal responsibility. That is not saying that you were not responsible because you sound totally responsible. But people can choose to live unhealthily and this will not change due to a law. This needs to be addressed at some point.
Anyway, I am sorry because I just got in after a 14 hour day at the hospital. SO sorry if I rambled and didn’t make sense.
My thoughts are with you!