Thursday, April 24, 2008

Note to Self: Don't Be Too Sad

NOTE: are much more stable financially than we’ve been that entire time, so please know this isn’t any kind of under-cover plea. It's just generalized Raging against the for-profit Insurance Machine.

I’ve changed jobs a couple times since this started, and when people become aware of our situation I have to re-explain. I usually sum up: “Cancer. Quit job. Expensive. Sad.” I’ve realized that a lot of people think we got into our financial troubles by not having insurance. This isn’t the case; we’ve had tons of insurance.

It was, after all, my insurance company who helpfully reminded me to choose our anaesthesiologist carefully as we headed toward the ER and Thomas's first round of surgeries.

And I certainly had an insurance company when they rejected our bills from those surgeries, pointing out that our world-class pediatric neurosurgeon was charging more than the going rate that all those other (- what, 4?) pediatric neurosurgeons in Dallas were charging. Because what we really want is a surgeon who's working on the cheap.

And I had an insurance company when they refused to cover Thomas's chemo drugs last year, and simultaneously would not provide a comprehensive list of drugs that were covered, or a clear path to appeal that decision.

Frustrating? You betcha. Depressing, why, no.

I mean, it could be depressing. To some people. But not to me. My friend Gordon pointed out recently that Scott and I need to be careful not to become clinically depressed. That diagnosis would cause us to lose our individual health insurance plans, even though neither Scott’s nor my plan covers mental health at all.

Gordon has been chronicling his family’s struggles with insurance over at his blog, Real Live Preacher. Gordon is a smart guy. College-educated. An entrepreneur. Although Thomas's medical trials have been more overtly dramatic, Gordon’s experience very closely mirrors our frustration in trying to make bureaucracies speak plain English and follow through on their promises. It's hard to believe that people like us can't make the system work.

I know this is an election issue, but I don’t think any presidential candidate is going to solve this problem. But whether it’s my voice as a consumer or my voice as a voter that’s going to make a difference, I am going to have to holler about this for a while. Something’s got to change.

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At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Cindy said...

I'm new to your blog but I think we may have mutual friends. Did you and or your husband by any chance attend Covenant College or have friends that did?

I'm praying for you and your little family. I'm awed by your transparency and total reliance on the Lord for all of your needs. I don't know you but it seems you and your husband are handling a really hard thing really well. Be not weary in well doing.

As for the insurance I'm afraid it all boils down to the almighty dollar as with most things. It's really sad the insurance companies have to be fought to pay what is needed. Have you considered the possibility of going public? Our local tv stations have a segment for consumers being ripped off, like you paid a guy to repair your roof and he never showed. They interview the person and go to the offending party to see if it can be rectified. Maybe the negative spotlight on the insurance company would help bring them around. Or the doctor would be willing to accept what the insurance will pay.

I have 14 grandchildren and I have lots of non biological grandkids I pray for and Thomas has been added on to my 'Nana's prayer list'.

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Thomas, as told to Sarah said...

Thanks, Cindy. We are doing ok at the moment. But the whole issue that Gordon and I have both discovered is that the system is actually supposed to make it difficult for regular, bill-paying, responsible-with-your-health people to get the coverage they need.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Carolyn said...

I had a surgery in 2005 and my son had one a year later. Luckily I was tipped off about the "choose your....carefully" so I called every freaking person who was going to work on me to see if they accepted my insurance. Just before they put me under the anesthesiologist arrived and I freaked out!! I did not call him!! This should not be the last thing on your mind before major surgery!! Oh yeah and I love that BS money maker “above reasonable and customary charges”!!

Preach on sista!!!

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep. it just doesnt make sense. a travesty. you know what they say "if you arent outraged, you havent been paying attention."

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous andrea said...

Odd coincidence, but I was thinking along the same lines earlier today, that the whole idea of a for-profit healthcare industry makes no sense. The profit motive skews everything for the worse.


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