My health-care bills and the Health Care Bill

$20,000. What can you purchase for that amount of money? Pay one year off a mortgage, purchase a nice used car, buy a whole bunch of stuff.

I finally got an ‘explanation of benefits’ (EOB) letter from my insurance company about my initial 15 treatments (The hospital accidently tried to file the claims with my old insurance company). According to them, the whole process, including the pre-ECT exams, cost close to $20,000. Upon getting this letter, I thought this may be a good time for me to bring up the whole topic of health care, or more specifically, health insurance and the battle on Capitol Hill.

Because I do have insurance, a large portion of the treatment is covered (When I get the real bill from the hospital, I’ll post the amount). Obviously, this is something I am very thankful for, especially since it wasn’t that easy for me to find insurance – and I’m in my 20s! I was even turned down by several companies simply because I have bipolar disorder. Thank goodness for my insurer, Golden Rule/United Healthcare. Even though my monthly rate is close to $400, it is worth what I save on medical costs. There are some younger, healthy people who may not see the need for insurance, and  they may be against the new health reform because according to the new proposal, it would require that everyone be enrolled in a health insurance program. What they need to realize is that an insurance is just that, an insurance when those unforseen events arise. Obviously, they’ve never seen the base cost of a simple procedure or a doctor’s appointment, because even seeing just the true cost of one prescription would make a person realize why health insurance is so important.

What about for those who need electroconvulsive therapy but can’t get insurance? Currently, over 40 million Americans are uninsured, many not by choice. Under the new plan, insurance companies will not be allowed to turn people down simply because they have a pre-existing condition. And those who are uninsured and cannot afford insurance will be helped by an expanded form of Medicaid. Even those nowhere near the poverty level will be given an insurance subsidy to help pay for their insurance.  Now, ECT clearly isn’t for everyone, but shouldn’t everyone be given all medical options when choosing treatment? I know that had I not had the ECT, I would have been dead by February.

To put simply, I can’t imagine being without health insurance. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to afford ECT nor would I have been able to afford some of the non-generic medications. And I certainly wouldn’t be seeing my psychiatrist on a regular basis. But I see all of these items as being crucial to keeping me alive. Moreover, I’m sure there are plenty of others who need these services even more than I do yet do not get them because they cannot afford or are denied health insurance. It’s easy to say that one is against “socialized medicine,” but does one realize what it’s like to try to get medical care when they don’t have insurance? Do they know just how much medical care costs without insurance? It’s utterly obscene. Call it ‘socialized medicine’ if you’d like, but is it such a horrible thing if it’s going to allow someone to get the care they truly need?

Though I’ve been for health care reform, I admit I haven’t been paying to much attention to the debate. However, seeing that EOB gave me a good ‘shock’ to my senses about just how much relevance this topic has in my life and others and how important it is that I become more aware about this issue.

FYI: A quite concise editorial “Health Care Reform and You” was in the New York Times on Saturday.

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