Currently in Washington, elected officials, lobbyists, and advisers are debating over health reform. One major point of contention, a public option, is what I wish to discuss in this post.
Along with a more-than-super majority of the American people, I want the option of purchasing public health insurance for one simple reason: I was rejected by a health insurance agency. I have blogged about this. I have struggled through this. Without the advent of COBRA policy, I would not have insurance today.
With the option of COBRA, I am paying $435 a month to keep my health insurance. Every time I write that check, I question if it is worth it. But then I remember my SO’s debt due to an appendix emergency, and I write the check. But this can only last until June of next year, at which time my 18 months is up.
I would love to have health insurance. I would love to have applied, been accepted, and not have to weigh in on this debate (no pun intended). But that did not happen, so here goes.
We need a public option. Too many people in this country are denied health insurance for medical reasons that seem ludicrous to me. For instance, I am overweight. I was rejected for this. In order to obtain insurance, I need to drop at least 60 pounds. For those of you who don’t know, this is incredibly hard. While watching a daytime talk show, one expert sited that most diet & exercise attempts to loose significant amounts of weight fail. And by most, I mean 85%. That’s right, I have a 15% chance of succeeding. With those odds looming over my head, I’m trying.
But I don’t see why I have to hinge my personal financial security on this. Why couldn’t the insurance company I applied for just charge me more? Insurance companies already charge more for being a woman (if you are of child bearing age 18-35, which some states are attempting to make illegal). Why not just charge more for the “preexisting condition” they reject people for? As much as it would hurt, I would accept that to simply have a plan. Of course we all know they do this to insure they make money. But shouldn’t my health be worth more than their profits?
Not having health insurance in this country is equal to waiting to be financially bankrupt. Any serious surgery will cost you thousands of dollars. For a year after college, I did not have health insurance. A doctor’s visit for me jumped from a $10 copay to $60. And that was for a checkup. When I had a toothache that wouldn’t go away, I found out I needed to have a specialist perform my root canal. That one procedure cost me $950. To completely fix the tooth totaled $1700. It all went on a credit card. That is not the way a recent college graduate should start their financial life.
Speaking of that, I don’t want to file for bankruptcy because I fell, broke my wrist, and now have thousands of dollars in medical bills. But that is just what happened to a good friend of mine. She hadn’t even reached 21 when she fell and broke her wrist outside her home. Before she could legally drink a beer, she was in debt up to her eyeballs. She had a moment of bad luck. You think it can’t happen? It happens every day.
Ella, upon her death, left behind stacks of bills that went unpaid. She could barely afford her rent and the bills. Something had to give. So the health insurance went away. And then she got cancer and died. If she had had health insurance, if she had a lower cost basic option, maybe she would still be here. I don’t want to die because I can’t afford to go to the doctor.
A public option gives people like me a chance. If a private insurer won’t even accept me, what am I to do? Why am I deemed to roll the dice when I am ready and willing to pay for insurance? The system is wrong. It’s is unfair and needs to change.
Insurance companies argue that a public plan will put private insurers out of business. I disagree. I suspect the majority of people who will opt for the public option are those who have been rejected from private insurers. Should people go to the public plan because they prefer it over the private ones is only a testament to being over charged or under provided. The failure of private companies will be their own fault, not the government’s.
While a public option does not fix every situation, it gives people like me an chance. It is my plan, and my hope, that I will loose the weight and apply again for insurance. Should this bill pass, I will apply for it as well. Whoever gives me the best coverage with the optimal rate will get my business. I don’t care if I’m paying a private company or Uncle Sam. All I want is health insurance.
So it is my hope that our President and the Congress is able to make this happen. Otherwise, come next summer, I may join the ranks of the uninsured once again, not by choice, but by commerce.
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