Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I Want Government to Take Over my Health Care

I was raised in a faith-healing cult. Because the government doesn't intrude on religious belief "or the free expression thereof" my family was permitted to deny me health care until I reached 17 years of age (even though I was covered through my mom's employer health benefits for the last half of that time).

I worked several part-time and full-time jobs over the years. In fact, until this past February I have been steadily employed my entire life since I was 7 and got my first job at a florist shop. I have never had employer health insurance coverage, unless you count the Worker's Compensation I had to use when I tore my right rotator cuff in a slip and fall.

I've also used health insurance after a couple of car accidents I've been in. My sister and I got rear-ended when she was newly licensed, and although I didn't get pain medication or see a real doctor, I went to a chiropractor. When my brother and I got rear-ended a few years later I got more chiropractic, but I also got physical therapy. When I was 17 my mom finally took me to an orthopedic surgeon to deal with my limp. My right hip had been dislocated near-constantly for three years. I went through multiple rounds of physical therapy and surgery was considered.

When I was pregnant I had Medicaid (government run health care!) and got the most comprehensive treatment I have had at any point in time. Does the paperwork suck? Yes. Is it a battle sometimes to enroll in the first place, and to keep coverage over time? Absolutely. Medicaid is not designed to be a lifelong solution, and the health insurance companies serve as HMOs within Medicaid so that can bog things down as well. But when my son went into fetal shock, I didn't have to consider the price tag of going to the ER.

I didn't have health insurance a few weeks after Little Man was born, when I broke my ankle. I waited a few hours in the ER waiting room, but it was going to be hours more before they'd see me, as I hadn't been shot or stabbed. My ex-husband was a whiny prick, and my infant son was surrounded by sick people. The stupid wheelchair I was sitting in was so confined I couldn't nurse my son while in it. I gave in to my feckless husband's nagging and we went home. I never did get a cast for it, and my family knew and watched as I left my husband, moved in with my mother, and cared for my sickly infant son, hobbling on a broken ankle. And they did nothing to help.

A few weeks after that a boil on my stomach just wouldn't go away, and my home lancing attempt was unsuccessful. I persuaded (begged, sobbed, cried) my mom to loan me the $500 to go to the walk-in clinic and have it lanced. Apparently I'd had flesh eating bacteria for over a month. I would hold my son against me to nurse him, against the same stomach that was infected with flesh-eating bacteria. Because I didnt have insurance, and I was already trying to save up money to get my ankle taken care of, I waited a month, until I was in so much pain I couldn't hold my son, to see a doctor. They lanced it - it was disgusting. I sobbingly told the nurse that I had no insurance and no money for medication, and she smuggled me a 2 weeks supply of antibiotics and wrote me a script for vicodin to handle the pain from my ankle.

And even since then, while I don't have insurance my son is still covered, Knowing that I *can* take him to a doctor when he needs it is a tremendous relief. Since he has insurance, I can also keep up with routine check-ups and other preventative measures. Also, because he's enrolled in Medicaid and because I pay attention, I was able to get my son's hearing checked when he was 11 months old and showed signs of being deaf. (He was completely non-responsive to verbal and auditory cues, like clapping or whistling.)

Two separate tests (which yes, took time to schedule, these were specialists) ruled out any hearing problems, and instead we were able to learn that my son had other developmental and communication delays. As a result of early preventative care and testing, my son has been receiving speech therapy since he was a year old, and from one to three also had an "early interventionist" who came by our home or his school to help with him with things like emotional self-soothing and increasing his attention span (first tested at less than a second). All of these special needs services were covered under something called Medicaid- Part D, which has separate funds and more specialists and treatment options available, for children who need it the most.

Except for a few catastrophes were I was lucky enough to have health insurance through Worker's Comp and auto liability, and the government-run health care program known as Medicaid, I've lived without health care my whole life. I *want* government run health care! Please, because right now I'm screwed. I can't believe people are trying to stop this, are saying "Screw you, I got mine". Crying "socialism" and "death panel". The insurance company that drops a cancer patient because they've determined the tumor was a "pre-existing condition" is a death panel. The insurance companies that screw over patients every way they can to make profits, and then want a bailout of public tax dollars when things get hard? They are the socialists.

Tell Pres. Obama you support his health care proposal - spelled out here. The more support the White House and Dems in Congress know they have for a public option, the harder they'll fight for us. Right now the loudest voices are from screaming mobs. Don't let the reasonable voice be drowned out of the debate.