I have been a candidate for office, so I guess you could call me a recovering politician. These are my thoughts, right or wrong, they are mine!
I have to be honest, I have probably stolen from you.
How do you ask?
During the late 90s, I did not have the insurance that I needed to access decent health care. Being a Type One Diabetic, that meant several hospital stays. Hosptial stays that I could not afford. Bills that were left unpaid.
So you were left with hospitals having to absorb that cost. They made it up by raising their rates. Insurance companies adjusted to this by raising premiums. If you live in a hospital district, people like me and I caused your taxes to go up. Others saw their Insurance Premiums go up.
I would be hospitalized every few months because I was taking Insulin blind. Then I was guessing at my glucose level since I could not always afford my test strips. I had to ration my insulin some months since I did not always have enough money for more insulin. I have reused syringes because new ones were not affordable. Follow up appointments were out of the question. A specialist without insurance could cost over $200 a visit. That was a choice between electricity or the doctor.
So in a sense, I stole health care. And you paid for that in higher taxes and higher premiums.
A Little Better, then Back Again
After about 1999, I was able to receive insurance through my employer. I was more productive at work than ever before. I was able to buy my insulin, my test strips, and even follow up on appointments.
Life was good.
I was making more than I had ever made before in my life. With increases in my salary, I could afford better coverage.
Then life wasn’t so good.
A significant car malfunction made it impossible to work. So I soon lost my job.
No job meant no insurance. In an instant, I was back at where I started.
I did find a minimum wage job that I could walk to every day. It was maybe a fourth of what I was making before. Eventually my wife was able to find another job, and we could afford a very used car that wasn’t much, but still got us where we needed to be.
With that car, I was able to find a job as a substitute teacher. Later that led to a career as an aide.
That job offered insurance. I gladly took it, though it cost me half of my monthly pay.
I Became an Insurance Nightmare
A foot in
From walking to work and all of the time I was up on my feet as an Aide, I started developing blisters on my feet.
Especially one in particular. It healed. On the outside. But on the inside, it evolved into staph and tunneled into the bone.
In December of 2008, I spent six weeks in the hospital fighting an infection with IV antibiotics and some surgery.
My podiatrist told me that ten weeks of IV antibiotics and I would be infection free. After six weeks, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Texas said that I no longer needed to be in the hospital. I was back in the hospital less than six weeks later with the same problem.
Hospitalization was a common thread for the next couple years. My doctor was setting one course and the insurance company choosing another. Then back in. Usually, I ended up losing a toe or some bone in surgery.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
By the time that the infection had caused so many surgeries that my foot could not support my weight.
In June 2011, I lost my right foot.
Have a Heart
So after my amputation, I became restless. I wanted to prove that I could be just as productive as everyone else. I guess that I went a little overboard. Heck, I ran for Congress. Not once, but three times. The last time I had run for anything, was for school board in 1994 while a senior in my high school.
The amputation made me feel 10 foot tall and bulletproof.
Then I got pneumonia. March of 2016. In the middle of a stressful campaign that was exasperated by a frivolous lawsuit. My diabetes, the stress, and the illness created a perfect storm that saw me in the hospital. One evening my wife asked me if I was alright before she left. I told her I was having some sharp pains in my chest. I had had them for a few weeks, so figured it was the illness.
It turned out to be a heart attack. That revealed the need for a Double Bypass.
At this point, you are wondering why you are sharing all of this.
But, there is a reason.
Let’s be honest. Without insurance during my foot infection, there is no way the hospital keeps me in that long. No way they find an orthopedic surgeon willing to take the job of amputation.
Do I die of blood poisoning?
When my heart was sick, without insurance what were the chances of hospitalization for the illness, instead of being prescribed some antibiotics I couldn’t afford?
In that scenario, I continue thinking my chest pains are nothing to worry me. How close was I to having a massive coronary and dying?
In America, it is cheaper to die than to live in America.
Look at me.
For me to afford to be a healthy member of society without insurance, I would need strips to check my blood sugars at least four times a day. That is about 120 strips or more a month. Over the counter for an average monitor can cost you about $70 if not more. If you can afford an endocrinologist visit, that will set you back about $250 at least four times a year, if not more. The best insulins will set you back about $250 a vial. I go through 6 bottles a month. Then between needles, special shoes, and everything else I need to be productive, I need to make at least $2000 a month to afford and adequately care for my Diabetes,
That is before I pay for electricity, taxes, food, or anything else.
So I need to decide if I want to work to put a roof over my head and slowly die by determining which medical service I don’t do. Or live on the streets. After all, I cannot afford a car if all I am working for my Diabetes.
The Alternatives in Health Care
Some people are opposed to any national health care program at all. I am not going to go into their reasons. Most of it is, they feel that they should not be required to pay for someone else’s medical. Or that there is a religious or political reason to oppose it.
In many circles, we boast about having the best medical care in the world. My question is, what purpose does it serve if only a few can use it?
In the end, I boil it down to the decision that they are more comfortable with their fellow citizens dying of preventable diseases than be forced to toss in a few bucks a year in taxes.
I have to say this; the Affordable Care Act was not affordable. I supported many of the measures of it, but feel that the correct health care funding cannot rest with private insurance. Not completely. That does not cut costs.
We have a system already in place that with a few changes would work for all Americans.
We need Medicare for all. It has worked for all that are part of it. And there are Medigap private programs for people that want coverage beyond what it covers.
The courage to make these changes is not political; it is moral. I refuse to believe that a nation that won two world wars, put a dozen men on the moon, and built probes that have left the solar system can not find a way to create a national health plan that is available to all.
Are you okay with your fellow Americans dying when it can be avoided?
That is the question in the end.
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