Friday, February 17, 2006

Playing the game of Health Care Russian Roulette

We are living in a generation of extreme games ~ for instance fear factor and survivor. I have been playing the most extreme game of them all and had been playing for years before I realized it was an extreme game ~ one where you put your life on the line. On the last day of March in 1999, I was jolted from a peaceful slumber and awakened to a real life nightmare. The game took a turn for the worse and my husband who rarely sneezed was having a full-blown grand mall seizure.

Time moved in slow motion ~ like in a dream ~ emergency workers came, I stood in the hospital, I looked at the CAT scan, listened to the doctor, heard the dreadful word ~ CANCER ~ all the while wondering what we were going to do? For the last three months we had been living on unemployment, there was not any insurance, Insurance was a luxury we could not afford. With a baby on my hip and my five-year-old daughter, grasping my hand my heart screamed “What Now?”

For us playing the game was not a choice, we had to play the health care form of ~ Russian Roulette.

As in any game, we each take our turn ~ with Health Care Russian Roulette we spin the virtual cylinder on the revolver of health loaded with a bullet of sickness. Sometimes we are lucky and when the chamber locks into position, it is empty. However, under some circumstances, the barrel is loaded and if you have insurance, are unemployed or underprivileged, you can get the care needed.

Nevertheless, what happens to the multitude of uninsured who do not qualify for assistance? Three main groups are playing the Health Care Russian Roulette game: low wageworkers who do not receive insurance from their employer, healthy people who want “Pay as you go” health care because of the continued rising costs and people who are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The solution to end the game will be found in more than one idea.

National Statistics provided by the Kaiser Family State Health Facts website gives insight to the National Crisis we are facing when it comes to health care. In 2003 over 38 million people were hospitalized with an average cost around seven thousand dollars. Of those hospitalized twenty – eight percent were uninsured and unable to receive state assistance in the form of Medicaid. This twenty-eight percent reflects those who are above the poverty level. How much above? The heartland institute examined the current population survey and their findings reflect that close to one third of the uninsured have annual incomes of fifty thousand dollars or above.

These players want to beat the odds, and are willing to take the chance that when the spinning stops ~ the sickness bullet will not land in the barrel.

According to the Census Survey, low wageworkers generally work for smaller companies who are unable to provide health insurance because of the escalating costs. Insurance companies are becoming more stringent in the requirements, discriminating against less profitable patients. As an example, I was speaking to a friend recently who was trying to get individual care insurance from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They denied her coverage because of a history she had of a frequent runny nose. She was a cost risk the insurance company was not willing to insure. She currently has filed an appeal and is waiting on a decision. In the mean time, she like so many others will take their turn at spinning cylinder on the Health Care Revolver.

In the 1992 JAMA an article entitled “Socioeconomic status and risk for substandard medical care” looks at the iatrogenic events uninsured are likely to suffer. “The uninsured poor are twice as likely as those with private insurance to delay hospital care; among those delaying care hospital stays are longer and death rates are higher” Those with major health risk factors as well as ailments that are treatable have a twenty five percent higher Mortality rate than those with insurance.

Is there one solution that will solve the health Care crisis? No. but if we take a look at the plan President Bush is promoting we will find that in the whole it provides great strides in making major adjustments on how health care benefits are distributed throughout the nation, so that everyone will be able to receive preventive health care, as well as treatment for their ailments. His plan, which embraces several ideas, will enhance what is currently available and make it user friendly. This plan will empower consumers, allowing them to choose doctors hospitals and treatments.

In his proposal, President Bush wants to expand the Health Care Savings Accounts allowing larger deposits and making them available to the self-employed. His plan will provide both income tax deductions and credit on income taxes for any payroll taxes associated with the premium. Employers will be encouraged to offer portable Health Care Savings Accounts thereby allowing employees to move or relocate and keep their accounts with out loosing any previous contributions. In the President’s plan, Health Care Savings Accounts will be treated as IRAs and there by rewarding those who take advantage of the Health Care Savings Accounts opportunity.

Look at it this way if you or your employer contributes to the Health Care Savings Account you will only have to tap into the account for your own ailment not for the ailments of everyone else including those who tend to abuse their bodies.

To answer the problem of patients not receiving preventive health care President Bush wants to Expand Community Health Centers adding an additional 1,200 new sites, which would serve and additional six million patients. Federally funded grants will be made available for non-profit and faith based organizations who will provide health care services. Medical pools where groups of individuals pay for each other’s medical expenses over and above their contributions into their Health Care Savings Accounts can receive start up assistance from federal funds made available with the Presidents plan. Insurance will still be available, catastrophic policies will become the norm.

Playing the game of Health Care Russian Roulette is a game millions of Americans play every day. The national Health Care Crisis affects us all with higher costs and restrictive screening by insurance companies. Uninsured patients are having a difficult time surviving when the trigger sends a bullet of sickness out the barrel. The President’s plan will take a huge step towards solving our national crisis in establishing preventive care and alternate sources besides insurance.

You want to hear the rest of my story. Alternate treatments were not available and after four months my husband died, he lost the game.

The health care revolver is loaded and ready; will you be the next player?

1 comment:

Chuck said...

I am sorry for you and your kids loss. You have strong words and it would be great if more people listened. Seems like you do your homework. Keep huging those kids and talking with God, he has a strong back, big hands, and wide shoulders, I hear tell we are made in his image. Peace