Friday, June 12, 2009

Do You Feel Lucky ?

I heard from another friend today who has someone within his circle who has just been diagnosed with a form of lymphoma.  The person in question is a single, 38 year old interior designer who was recently laid off from her job.  So you know where I'm going with this right ?  Yep, you got it - no health insurance !  This is a topic that's never far from my mind but this story really got to me.

Imagine, if you will, what it is like to hear the words "you have cancer".  Before you have even had time to process that horrible thought, try piling on "and you need these treatments in order to save your life, and how do you intend to pay for them if you don't have health insurance ?".  My head simply spins when I think about this and I can't really fathom the horror of this poor woman's situation. 

I am one of the "lucky" ones who has excellent and affordable health insurance through my husband's employer so I only have to deal with the "you have cancer" bit of the nightmare.  But that's the point.  Yes I am lucky to have the health insurance but WHAT IF ?  What if he lost his job and couldn't find another one by the time COBRA insurance ran out ?  What if he decided to divorce me ?  What if something catastrophic were to happen to him ?  What if I were unable to find a job carrying health benefits ? 

What if , what if , what if ..............

The reality is, if I were to find myself without employer-sponsored health insurance, I would need to try my luck at buying insurance on the open market.  That's about the time that you get hit with the next whammy.  As the "lucky" one living with cancer, you are automatically deemed to have a pre-existing condition by the insurers so in order to protect their downside risk you will be faced with having to pay an enormous monthly premium in order to maintain your policy.  That's if you are "lucky" enough to live in a State that mandates your right to buy health insurance despite a pre-existing condition.  (Click here for further information on obtaining health insurance in your State).

Now I'm no professional commentator on health care reform in the U.S., but as an ongoing consumer of health care in this country, something just doesn't feel right.  Health care   shouldn't be sold as a luxury commodity nor should access to it be something that's determined by your station in life.  

So to all of you who feel "lucky".  Remember this.  You might only be one "what-if" away from being in the same horrible predicament that my friend's friend currently finds herself in. Health care is a necessity and no-one should fall through the cracks just because of an unlucky what-if.

Further reading:

1 comment:

  1. I've never understood the health care in the States, I live in Canada. I have the same health insurance working for the government, as the neighbor who works for McDonalds or the student across the street.

    For that, I am very thankful. I couldn't imagine the horror that comes from making treatment choices based on money and lack thereof, rather than what the top treatment is. Yikes.

    PS - how many comments do you think I can make in one day? Lol.


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