Today in the United States Senate, Chris Dodd (D-CT) gave one of what he's promised will be daily talks on the Floor about health care reform. He started to tell the story of a constituent, Theresa, who has several auto-immune illnesses and doesn't have health insurance.
This story came from my book, It's Too Hard to be Sick In America, which is available for free on our website.
Here's Theresa's story:
Theresa has a cluster of auto-immune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and connective tissue disease. She has applied for Social Security disability, but she is having problems documenting her illnesses and treatments because she has no health insurance and, thus, cannot see a doctor. We tried to find her free clinics, but they will not let her see a specialist, and the internists at the clinics don’t feel that they can treat her complex needs.
No money means no insurance means no health care means no Social Security which means no money. A vicious cycle, indeed.
I wrote Too Hard to be Sick because it's clear to me that many people, including many of those making health care policy, don't understand what it's like to live with a chronic illness.
They claim, for example, that a tax on benefits would be good for us because we shouldn't think for a minute that our health care is free -- and since we have insurance, it's as if it were free. I don't know about you, but my insurance premium is $996 per month, and I spend no less than $200 per month on prescription drug copays -- and that's a good month when nothing extraordinary is going on.
They claim that prevention and wellness will reduce the cost of chronic illness. To the extent that some illnesses are related to obesity, tobacco use, or other lifestyle choices, sure. But my autoimmune disease, Crohn's disease, wasn't preventable, and I don't like being blamed for being sick when I'd have done anything -- I'd still do anything -- to escape this awful illness.
They make a lot of claims they couldn't and wouldn't make if they really understood chronic illness.
So read It's Too Hard to be Sick in America, and then let's talk about how to control the cost of chronic illness.