Friday, October 16, 2009

The True Faces of the Uninsured

American’s have a stereo-typical idea of the uninsured. They are thought to be minorities, and more than likely illegal immigrants, people that are lower class and do nothing to help themselves, and more than likely jobless and riding the system for handouts. Although I’m sure the stereotype might be true in some cases, it is not the majority, and probably only a small fraction, of the uninsured. Even so, they too deserve to have health care as it is a right and not a privilege or a luxury! But, in actuality, the true faces of the uninsured look just like you and me. They are Christa Vasquez, age 31, who says “I have a pre-existing condition and nobody will approve me." They are Mader Glenn, age 60, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent chemotherapy and was then laid off from her fortune 500 company, as they “couldn’t wait for her to get well.” She had Cobra insurance for a couple of months, but was one day late paying her premium and the insurance dropped her. They are also people like Alaina Ronewicz, age 23, who is a full time college student and does not have a full time job to help her attain health insurance. They are people that have lost their jobs due to the American recession, like the Houston gentleman who attended Dr. Oz’s free clinic at the Reliant Center in Houston. He lost his job and then could no longer afford his home and had to move into a motel as he could not find another job. On top of the stress of being jobless he had a cancer scare that went unscreened for over a year. It wasn’t until he attended the free clinic, that he found out that his polyps were benign, but reflects on the fact that there would absolutely be nothing that he could do if indeed the test did turn out to be positive for cancer.

The fact is, 70% of the families that are uninsured have one or more full-time workers, and 12% of the uninsured families have part-time workers. We have got to put a human face to our health care crisis. Pretending that “these people” are different from ourselves is a lie! These faces could very easily be our own faces some day.

I remember when I, myself, was uninsured. I remember my father’s insurance dropping me once I turned 21. I was a full-time college student and a mother of one. I had a part-time job, but could barely afford my car insurance much less health insurance. I had severe chest pains that would attack at random times, but never sought medical help as there was no way that I could pay it. Finally, the pains became so bad that I did go to the ER. They did numerous screenings and never found the source of my problems. I walked away with a $2,000 bill and an uncured chest pain. I never did find out what those phantom chest pains were all about as they eventually went away.

There was one other time in my life that I did not have insurance. It was after I was married and we had three kids, and my husband had been relieved of his job. He decided to make a go of his own law practice. During the four months that we did not have insurance, we had a son who had severely broken his leg and required x-rays every week to two weeks, we had a son whose ear drum ruptured during the middle of the night from an ear infection, and the same son who broke his leg also decided to swallow a penny. That also required more x-rays as pennies are made of zinc and could become poisonous if it did not exit his body. However, it eventually did exit the day before he was scheduled for surgery. Thank goodness we had credit cards to help pay those medical bills that came to about $2,500, but it took more than a year or more to pay those credit cards off. To tell you the truth though, I really don’t feel much safer with insurance. When my daughter was born, we pretty much came out of pocket for the delivery and hospital stay as we had not met our deductible yet. I have to wonder, what was the point of paying $900.00 a month for insurance if it didn’t even begin to cover my daughter’s birth? That money is just being pocketed somewhere! You are pretty much damned if you do have insurance, and damned if you don’t! Something has got to change!

Thanks to: for help with some of the stories I spoke about above.

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