Our health insurance worries wouldn't be so worrisome if we had just started the discussion. But we have been discussing this for almost two generations now. We're going to discuss ourselves into a hole. Let's set a timetable for making some hard decisions and force ourselves to confront the demons.
I have an MBA and lost my job. COBRA health insurance ran out after 18 months and the premiums increased to $800 a month. My wife, a registered nurse who has helped people all her life, became disabled with a severe back injury.
Medical bills totaled $40,000. She requires $600 a month in medications. We applied for bankruptcy. My wife needs $100,000 for a spinal fusion operation. The alternative is to become paralyzed, an invalid, and go insane from the tormenting horrific pain.
No insurance company will insure us.
The American people are being taken for suckers and are in a dream world, waving flags and worrying about terrorism. The real terrorists are the pharmaceutical/insurance/energy/financial mega corporations.
I regularly order my prescription drugs from Canada or England. From Canada, I get Effexor XR (75 mg 100 capsules) brand name for $145. It would cost me $303 at CVS. I order all three refills at once to save on shipping. They are exceptionally kind, courteous and efficient.
From England, I order Fosamax (70 mg 4 tablets) for $44 for my wife's osteoporosis. Here at Walgreen's it cost $88. My wife is also on Percocet for severe pain. You can't order that online because it is a controlled drug.
Out of curiosity, I called up a retail pharmacy in Toronto, and Percocet sold for $145 for what my wife has to pay $255 for here. We can't travel to Canada to get that drug. But we can kill ourselves here with all the alcohol and cigarettes we can get.
The greatest economic depression this country has ever known is about to befall us all due to the greed and corruption of the insurance/pharmaceutical/health care/energy industries. America desperately needs universal, single-payer federal health care for all.
Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Back in July, I felt really ill when I returned to Charleston from taking my son to camp in Pennsylvania. I had a terrible pain in my stomach, was sweating from time to time, was exhausted, disoriented, and generally felt just awful. I figured the odds were pretty even that either I had food poisoning or was having a heart attack.
I had a heart attack several years ago — caused not by heart disease, but by a systemic infection — so I know what one feels like, and this could have been it. The problem was, because of my concerns over health insurance for me and my family, I was terrified to go to the doctor.
I am self-employed and have to pay for my family's health insurance. My business is pretty successful, but the insurance premiums of $1,150 per month present a strain that we cannot bear for long. Even if I can find insurance at an affordable rate, I will be forced to re-qualify for that insurance every year. So if, for example, I or someone in my family develops a serious illness, when it comes time to re-qualify, the insurance company is free to charge as astronomical a premium as they wish so as to make it impossible for us to renew.
I am very healthy and strong. I am not overweight, nor do I smoke. My blood pressure and cholesterol are good. Grueling 15-mile mountain bike rides several times per week are not uncommon. In the winter, I run on a treadmill regularly. Health should not be a concern for me.
If I was diagnosed with a heart attack, though, it would have made it impossible for me to secure insurance. So, instead of seeing the doctor, I stayed at home and took aspirin, fish oil, and Ginkgo Biloba to thin my blood; Benadryl to try to relax; and tried to rest as much as possible, just in case I was having a cardiac event. I also took grapefruit seed extract, garlic, olive leaf extract, and ate lots of yogurt, just in case I had food poisoning.
I wonder if George Bush, Shelly Moore Capito or Rush Limbaugh ever find themselves in such a horrible quandary. I wonder if they ever were faced with such a terrible dilemma, would they feel differently about nationalizing health care? I wonder if I were a member of their family, would insurance company profits still be more important than my access to decent medical attention now and in the future. A $1,150 premium is pocket change to these people, so I'm certain such concerns would never cross their minds.
A week ago, I applied for a Medical Savings Account insurance policy in order to cut my premiums to about $500 per month. Today, I received a rejection letter stating I am ineligible because of my cardiac event of several years ago, even though I have no heart disease. Would the health plan to which Ms. Capito subscribes deny her for such a history? Would Mr. Bush be rejected because of his history of alcoholism? Would Rush be refused because he is grossly overweight, has hearing problems, and smokes Cuban cigars?
I would gladly pay 10 to 15 percent more in taxes in order to cover everyone and spread the risk pool to 250 million instead of a relative few, as in current group plans. Such a system would be much more just and compassionate.
Elliot M. Namay, Jr.