Posts Tagged With: uninsured

Discarded Obama Campaign Stickers

I was visiting overseas during the U.S. Presidential election, but I tried to stay informed. This was my first time to ever contribute to a Presidential campaign. I was also the first time I was really actively involved in any campaign. The Obama campaign had sent me a few bumper stickers as a thanks for donating and I was so excited that whenever I do get home… I was going to be able to post my Obama stickers on my little OLD truck. But my conservative mother threw them away! No thought given to the idea I may WANT them. No consideration, just trash. Some I had actually purchased. 

This campaign MEANT something to me! I willingly gave up my middle class lifestyle because of my Multiple Sclerosis and I had a tough decision to make – my lifestyle or my health. My health won-out! I gave up living in a nice house with one of my most favorite people in the world as a roommate, driving a BMW convertible and living in the exciting city of Las Vegas for living at home with my parents, with no car, in a small town in Mississippi. Like I said… NOT an easy decision, but a necessary decision. I knew the sacrifices I was going to have to make and I was lucky to have a loving and supportive family to help me.  

I struggled for two years with no healthcare because my M.S. was a pre-existing condition and this was during the time Obama was trying to get what is now labeled Obamacare passed. For the first time I saw something in politics that directly affected me and it was the President leading the cause. My new standing as a poor person with no insurance helped me see a side of this issue like others could not. I was living solely on my social security disability income and living at home, I was still only barely by. Eventually I qualified for Medicare and FINALLY had health coverage.  

My conservative, Republican, Christian family that watched more Fox News than ANY other news outlet, called Obama a socialist and believed all Fox News said, even though I was one of the very people Obama was trying to help with Obamacare – they saw it as evil and bad and so was Obama. This is when a passion for what was going on in politics began to grow IN me. My frustration also grew because I could not get them to see and understand – I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE” Fox News is demeaning! My parents had Social Security & Medicare and others in my family even had Medicaid and they witnessed my struggle with health issues all-the-while I had no health insurance. I began to see “conservative” to equal – I got mine and I do not care about you.

Needless to say this created a struggle for me in relating to my family and even strains our relationship today. I felt like an outsider in my own family.  Church was so important and BEING Christian was even more important. But as the conservatives boasted of their Christianity, I witnessed a great deal of not so Christian actions. Being gay has helped me see “church”, Christians, and even God in a much different light. I saw the principles of the Democrats relate more to Christianity than the “religious right”. I wrote a blog specifically to try to engage people to explain how “conservatives” were Christian (http://wp.me/pKLa8-GU) and e-mailed a blog that asked the same but in a friendlier tone than I had be able to muster! (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/11/time-for-christians-to-make-a-choice/) Republicans extol their Christianity but for me it conflicts with their politics and I feel the Democrats live it by their politics.

I see Jesus as someone that would spend time with gays, having wine and talking with them, not standing in line at Chick-fil-a so the company has more money to prevent gays having equality! I see Jesus touting the GOOD of Obamacare, not worrying how it could affect his personal coverage if the uninsured get access to care! This creates for me my biggest struggle – it makes me see my dearly devoted, Christian mother and others in my family as hypocrites! They already dislike me for being so different in how I think… how could they deal with being viewed as hypocrites? Or possibly even racist because of things they say about Obama? Oh yeah, that is why it was such an internal struggle for me to live that close to them. I hate myself for seeing my family the way I do. We DO love each other… but there is no respect unless there is agreement and I just can’t agree with them. They refuse to listen to my points because I think they do not want to see the hypocrisy. But any attempts I make to talk and try to understand only ends badly! I am a critical-thinker and NEED more than rhetoric and “faith” to understand things! Now I live far away and even at a distance it still hurts me!

My father was diagnosed with Dementia and suddenly Fox News was not on the tv as much (if any actually). A few months later he had a stroke, then 9 days later died. At his funeral, all that spoke (including me) mentioned his trademark little, old, piece of crap Toyota trucks he had over the years.  I did eventually get a little money and had the opportunity to travel to see my friend I call Little Buddy (one of my FAVORITE people in the world) and when I returned from that trip – I bought a little, old, piece of crap Toyota truck like my Dad used to have. I was looking forward to putting my Obama stickers on MY little, old truck, but they were thrown away because no one considered them relevant at that house  – the same as me… discarded without consideration or concern!

P.S. I do love my family and they do love me… like my facebook relationship status says – it’s complicated! My writing is to express feelings I am unable to share otherwise and this is how I feel now.

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Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This, That & the Other – Really Don’t Matter!

This, That & the Other

Desperation and necessity makes my decisions for me – who or what makes your decisions?  Americans (for the most part) always feel the freedom to make whatever decision is best.  But for some of us…. we lack the freedom.   Actually we have the freedom, but not the money to back the decisions we want to make.  I know people who have choices and I envy them.  They complain about this, that and the other.  If they saw things from a different perspective, I think this world would change.  I have a friend here in Bogotá that gets upset (like I do) about the lack of common courtesy used by Bogotanos in public ( in private, it would be very difficult to find friendlier people).  I told him “you may not be able to change the world, but you can change YOUR world”.  Smile, say hello, be nice and he has noticed what I said is true, he is changing his world – in general people are more polite than at first.  He made a good decision and has changed his world and I do feel changing the world is possible – one step at a time!

Desperation helps make nontraditional decisions.  But is the a decision-making process you are familiar with?  I am too familiar with this process.  Two years ago, I found myself one of the millions of Americans with no health insurance.  I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and 2 years with no insurance made me desperate to find a solution.  I tried and exhausted all possible solutions I knew to try.  I even found living only on social security, I made $14 a month too much for Medicaid.  That close but still to far!  After all traditional alternatives were explored, I tried being creative.  After my private insurance quit paying my private disability I had begun to explore places to live on limited a limited income and Colombia was high on the list.  Soon I found they had a government option health care system that even as a resident I could participate in.  Desperate for insurance I made the move to Colombia, South America.

Necessity also makes bad decisions for us.  Some decisions are made and made too late even when necessary.  A friend from junior high school was on disability due to cancer and had a 2 year waiting period for Medicare (same as me) and he had used his COBRA time during the approval stage of getting on disability.  The cancer returned during this waiting period.  There was a front page story about his situation in the local paper and still, he found no help.  I chose to share my stories.  Necessity left him seeking help even from having his story shared with strangers to no avail.  Healthcare reform came too late for him. Charles Aaron Jackson III, 43, died November 21, 2009 at his residence in Osyka.  I often tried to remind myself – it could always be worse.  I hate my friend was one that had it worse. I shared the struggle and when I reached out, it was too late.  Cancer got him before Medicare did.  Insurance was necessary but the decision was out of his control.

This – I often see “this” is little to complain about.  As I complained to a friend about what I felt was a desperate situation, I saw a homeless man walking up the street and picking trough a garbage bag.  My problem is a big problem, but it could always be bigger.  I am not homeless or dying from cancer.  I need that homeless man and the memory of my childhood friend to remind me to keep things in perspective.  I am so lucky, I will NEVER be homeless, my family let me sleep on their floor until they find me a bed.  Even with little medical assistance I will ALWAYS have help getting out of the tub because when my legs are too tired to stand in the shower, they are also too weak to get me out of the tub and again, my family (even elderly parents) help me out of the tub.  More than once, I have NEEDED a cocktail and I have friends that will buy me a drink (lol) even when I am broke – I will ALWAYS have great friends because they care more about helping a friend than hoarding their money.

That – “that” is not my problem.  In the last few years, I have had so many problems I NEVER thought I would have.  As with the healthcare debate, I saw it from a different perspective being one of the uninsured.  Why do we have to find ourselves in a situation before we empathize.  President Obama was faulted for wanting empathetic Supreme Court Justices.  I like that a judge can empathize.  To understand law, I think a judge should empathize with the writers of the Constitution to understand how the law should be applied and also to empathize with the people who the laws are applicable to.  Only a politician would think empathy to be a bad thing!!

& the other – It is not me so why should I worry?  I was told that I gave up my right to share an opinion about healthcare reform because I had “chosen” to leave the country (actually a cousin told me that – distant cousin).  Her complaint was she worked hard for her money and did not want to be paying for others insurance.  I have been so surprised that there is a price for life and health and there is a point people think it is too much to help.  I have alienated myself from religion because of attitudes from Christians like this.  I am happy she can find comfort in her faith because it repels me from sharing her faith.  Maybe she even prayed for Aaron, but thank God she did not have to pay more taxes to save his life.

So let’s try keeping in mind desperation and necessity hinder decision-making.  We will be desperate at times, but knowing we are not the most desperate can help keep this, that & the other in perspective.  We will feel things are a necessity at times, but keeping in mind people are doing without necessities ALL of the time makes this that & the other less important.  This, that & the other are things we need to keep in perspective, empathize with others about and also know how our actions reflect to others our priorities.   In desperate times we should know it is a necessity that “this, that & the other” are kept in true perspective.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ignorance Is Bliss

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!”

Categories: Colombia, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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