Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
For more than 25 years now, my world has revolved around securing health care for my family and myself. I am glad the kids are grown and gone now so they can access care on their own more effectively than being chained to two aging parents with health issues. Even at that, I think the kids have also struggled with the costs of accessing appropriate care when it is needed.
Seems fitting today when we jumped over the half-million mark for those who have gone broke this year due to medical crisis and debt that I talk about how many of us who have walked that path try to keep from walking it again. Bankruptcy stinks -- especially when you have insurance, you are working, and you are even paying to make sure others can access care. So far this year, 501,417 Americans have gone bankrupt for health care. That's a lot of suffering and a lot of health care deferred and delayed.
I am sick of thinking about the costs, etc. I was able to visit one of my physicians today, and he advised me that if 100 physicians saw the results of my tests that 100 of those doctors would advise a certain course of treatment. I believed him. But I also know I still have a hefty portion of a deductible to pay this year, so I told him I would have to go home, talk to my husband, research the out-of-pocket costs and get back to him. I will do that, but I also know I likely will decline to do anything yet this year unless it is an absolute emergency.
My priority is and must be the money. My health and well-being must be secondary. For more than two decades, keeping myself just healthy enough to make enough money to pay the health insurance and out-of-pocket costs has been critical. But most of that time, unless I was truly in a dire situation, I opted not to get care that might have made me much healthier in the long run because I needed to work in the short run.
Health care costs and needs have kept me from meeting my own health care priorities. I think much of America lives this way. One person in the family may have a condition that is more serious and potentially life-threatening, so others go without. And often those who go without or who opt for sub-optimal care are those paying the bills. It's ugly.
So, do I want to spend whatever is left of my life in the same emotional and mental stress? Nope. Do I have a choice? Not really.
I load 16 tons and what do I get,
another day older and deeper in debt,
St. Peter don't call me, 'cause I can't go,
I owe my soul to the company store.
If we have an improved and expanded Medicare for all for life health care system, more of us might have a chance to think about getting quality care when it would be most effective in assuring our long-term health and well-being. That would be a wonderful way to change the dynamic for millions of working class people in America.
September 13, 2013 -- Today's count of the health care dead and broke for profit in the U.S.:
The 2013, to date, U.S. medical-financial-
industrial -complex system dead: 31,375
The 2013, to date, U.S. health care system
** These figures are calculated based on the Harvard University studies on excess deaths in the U.S. due to lack of insurance coverage or the ability to pay for needed health care, and the Harvard University study that calculated the high percentage of personal bankruptcies attributable to medical crisis and debt in the U.S. 123 people die daily due to lack of coverage or cash to pay for care; 1,978 go bankrupt every day due to medical crisis and debt though the majority had insurance at the time their illness or injury occurred. This statistic is also based on the 1.2 million bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and calculating those medically-related bankruptcies from that number.http://www.healthcareforallcolorado.org/endorse_right_to_health_care
To follow Donna "American SiCKO" Smith's daily blog: http://donnasicko.blogspot.com/
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