Log in

No account? Create an account
Loki riding

Health Care in America

Yay! I got my new health care card today. I haven’t had employer-provided health care insurance for nearly two years now, and the cost of my private policy was draining me dry. (I’ve been working since I was 16; I’ve never been unemployed before; I’ve never been in danger of being without health insurance before, so these past two years were quite a shock to my system. See “long story”.)

I sure hope we have real health care reform in this country soon. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been walking on quicksand, quicksand that has sucked under some of my friends, and I’m only too aware how treacherous life’s pathway has become for so many.

Waves to the Canadian friend on my flist who, when I told her and one of her friends a year and a half ago what was going on with my health insurance, spontaneously began singing “O Canada!”

December 2006: I learn my boss is retiring and selling her business to a new owner – who doesn’t provide health insurance. Retiring boss told me she’d been informed it wasn’t possible to get COBRA continual insurance on the policy she’d been providing as it would no longer exist, so I converted the policy I had with her to a $$$$ private policy. I was able to do that conversion because even though it was an individual policy they couldn’t deny me coverage under their conversion rules. Nor could they cancel the policy for any reason but nonpayment. (For non-US friends, US insurers who provide individual policies are notorious at cancelling them on any pretext if someone actually needs the policy; the companies often make these cancellations retroactive in order to avoid paying out any medical bills their client might have incurred.)

Then in August 2007 the new owner lays me off and I spend the next year on unemployment, sending out lots of resumes, and doing temp work. (I did take the opportunity, when not sending out all those resumes, etc., to learn how to design websites – finally!)

I was really scraping to pay for that expensive private policy, including selling some of my stuff on eBay to pay for it. I tried to find a cheaper policy, but got the middle finger from other insurance providers, despite the fact that, aside from my wonky ankle/foot, the only thing “wrong” with me is hayfever. But as pretty much anyone in my position has found out, insurers will refuse to sell private insurance policies for any trivial reason, including hayfever.

I finally found a new permanent job, and started August 2008. Now that three months have gone by, I’m eligible for the company-provided healthcare policy. What a relief!



My, do I know the problem, but the costs here in Germany for privately paid insurance are much lower and the public health insurances can't send you away. It's all regulated and as long as you pay a sum of 250-580 EUR (depending on your income), you are insured *knocks on wood* The insurances get slightly more expensive much too often since the politicians don't succeed in forcing the health system to limit the costs but that's a lot better than not getting any insurance at all.
Absolutely! I just cannot understand why we haven't had some kind of basic universal health care in the US - every other industrial nation has it. I know in other countries people can buy supplemental policies on top of the basic health care, but the "bottom line", everyone is covered.

I had an uninsured friend, years ago, who had to have emergency surgery, and she was harassed by collection agencies for literally years after that. My brother has his own horror stories, from when he was unemployed years ago.

There's been so much paranoia about "universal health care" in the US for so long - all kinds of scary stories that we'd have to "wait forever" to get care. What I want to know is, how is that any different from the 6 months it took for me to see a dermatologist for a suspicious mole (which turned out to be fine), while my insurance company screwed around with authorizations. (I have tons more stories like that.)

If you're over 65 in the US, you get guaranteed basic health care. I'd like to see that apply to everyone.
I saw two US friends sucked under by health insurance and a third who struggled badly, but at least got the care. One was screwed totally by her insurance company (they claimed she'd missed a premium, which she hadn't, but was too ill and broke to afford the legal help she needed to fight them).
I'm so sorry about your friends.

The insurance companies count on people being too ill and unable to advocate for themselves, or unable to afford representation. I read in the paper yesterday that at least 18,000 deaths in the US can be attributed each year to lack of health insurance and a huge proportion of bankruptcies every year are caused by crushing medical bills.

The "system" is completely broken, but it will be a tremendously complex job to fix it. I'm hoping now we'll have the political will.

Edited at 2008-11-23 07:36 pm (UTC)
Agreed. I didn't mention that one of the friends committed suicide - it was probably caused by the cost of her dying husband's medical treatment. What kind of a system insists on keeping dying people alive, then forces their families to pay for it?