Last summer I posted a diary about my daughter's partner, who suffered a health catastrophe while uninsured, because it sadly illuminated everything that's wrong with our health care 'system'. This healthy young man started having seizures out of the blue, suffered acute renal failure requiring dialysis due to non-stop seizures, and was found to have a brain tumor. Every avenue toward obtaining some kind of health insurance, either Medicaid or commercial, was blocked by deliberately constructed obstacles in his conservative Southern state. Rep. Grayson's right; the Republican health care plan? Get sick—hope you die quickly and cheaply.
The dust has settled since then, and in my family we have much to be thankful for...but America's health care "system" still sucks. Follow me for an update if you're interested.
My daughter's partner had a discharge interview with the hospital's billing department. At my suggestion he requested an appointment with the hospital social worker—and was repeatedly stiff-armed & put off. The hospital repeatedly tried to pressure my daughter to sign a declaration that she provided financial support to him, so they could get her (very limited) assets on the hook. She quite sensibly refused. At discharge her partner was presented with a bill totalling about $50,000. "Will that be cash or charge?". Um, well, let's see: lost his job due to North Carolina's Bankster melt-down 7 months earlier, minimal savings like every other hard pressed young worker...is there another option? He ended up meeting with social workers after discharge, and found himself down the rabit hole of Southern health insurance rules. Not eligible for Medicaid because it's extremely difficult to qualify (by design). Commercial insurance? With a brain tumor? Hahahahahahahahahahah.....
Well, North Carolina does have slightly subsidized 'risk pool' insurance for folks in his situation...oh, but gotcha! There's a 12 month 'pre-existing condition' provision, so it won't cover a nickel of his costs. Evidently this was designed to be a sick joke, sort of like pulling a chair away as some poor sucker is about to sit down.
Fast forward, to their credit the docs in North Carolina did the right thing and treated him without worrying about payment. MRI confirmed a brain tumor in an accessible location, "probably benign", and he elected to have it removed. More seizures, and the tumor grew 50% in just a few months. To the immense relief of all, it was successfully excised and turned out to be a benign cavernous angioma. Seizure drugs for at least the next six months, but a good prognosis long term.
Oh, and another bill for another $50,000. Cash or credit?
My daughter and her partner are spending this Thanksgiving holiday with us, and we're all supremely thankful for how it turned out...medically. He's ruined financially of course, $100,000 in debt and essentially unemployable. He's also uninsurable under our current system, unless real health care reform happens. Outlawing pre-existing condition clauses will be pointless without a widely available robust public option, because the for-profit insurance vampires will simply jack up the premiums to the sky for patients like him.
We'd been anticipating a wedding; now that's not going to happen, because my daughter would instantly be chained to her partner's crushing medical debt. "Well," she cheerfully informed us, "I guess our kids will just have to be bastards".
Ah, those Republican family values.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.