Thursday, March 22, 2007

Health insurance is expensive...IF you can get it at all

The state of healthcare insurance is just dismal unless you're around 20 years old, don't drink, don't smoke, have never been sick or seen a doctor for anything other than routine vaccinations and checkups, are perfectly proportioned height and weight, and have an incredibly perfect genetic background. And you make tons of money doing something you simply adore doing.

Otherwise you're gonna get hit with a big bill -- unless you work for a large enough company that your healthcare benefits are great and the employer portion foots most of the bill. And then, of course, there's always a good chance you'll eventually get laid off and have to find new insurance or choose expensive COBRA. And if you choose self-employment ... well, prepare yourself.

Blue Shield has notified the group with which we have our (self-employed) health insurance that it will not renew the contract. While the association is seeking an injunction to buy some time to find other insurance options for the 8000+ members who are going to be dumped, there's no guarantee that'll happen. So we've been looking at other options.

Like nearly everyone who is baby boomer age, we have our health issues -- they're fortunately not terribly scary ones, but we've seen doctors faithfully for years and continue to be successfully treated. About five years ago, I came down with a gangrenous gall bladder that was misdiagnosed as a cardiac incident -- and that lurks in my healthcare file like some bomb waiting for the hair trigger to be tripped. I defy you to find anyone in my age group whose arteries DON'T show *some* plaque.... it's just that mine happen to have been investigated and documented.

Oh, it had an enormous effect on me (fear will do that). I eat healthily, I lost weight, I walk, I'm careful about stress. I get regular checkups. Far as we know, the doc tells me, I'm healthy. The couple of issues I have are controlled and cause no problems long as I'm continuing to do the right stuff.

But it's fairly unlikely, I'm told, that an underwriter will approve my application for health insurance because of this, and because it's happened within the last five years == I'm three months shy of that fifth anniversary.

I know I'm not alone in this. Millions of Americans are uninsured because the premiums are so high -- if they can get it at all -- that they can't afford to have it AND have things like food, shelter, transportation, clothing. Every political candidate agrees that something MUST be done about healthcare, about the high cost of insurance, about the difficulty in getting insured. But nobody seems to be able to come up with a plan that will stand up to the deep pockets of the insurance lobbyists.

Pardon my cynicism, but our Congressional representatives don't see this from the same perspective as do their constituents. Our elected representatives are set with health insurance for life. And it's GOOD insurance... no $7500 deductible for them -- at least from what I understand. Oh, they know their districts may be concerned about the high costs of healthcare and want them to support legislation that will reform the industry -- and okay, okay, some of them are very proactive about it and really have tried to make a difference.

But it doesn't hit them where they live. It doesn't affect them personally. Politically, yes. But they have insurance.

We'll get insured one way or another, although our premiums may soar and we may have higher out-of-pocket expenses. But some serious illness or accident without insurance would wipe us out otherwise -- just as it has so many, many thousands of Americans.

It ain't right. It's not fair. It's depressing to work hard at keeping yourself healthy and then get slapped with a rejection of coverage.

I suppose I'm anticipating gloom and doom -- it hasn't happened yet (this time). I'm trying to think positively and find that nugget of gratitude -- but it's covered right now under piles of medical records, I think. Maybe tomorrow I can see more clearly. On my two-mile walk...after my high fiber oatmeal and skim milk breakfast...because I'm trying to stay healthy and live long (and prosper...)


Anonymous said...

I am an uninsured American who is playing the medical risk game ( hoping to stay healthy until medicare kicks in). There is no way I could have afforded health insurance AND take an early retirement - so I opted for the early retirement. I may regret the decision but there was only one way to find out.
I have joined a fitness center for one year at the cost of what it would have been to continue health care FOR A MONTH (actucally the cost was less for the gym membership).
I may be crazy but I do have a secret weapon - I keep both my fingers crossed.

Tacita said...

Good words.