Yesterday was a very happy day. Why? Well, in case you (somehow) hadn’t heard, Obamacare passed.
From CNN: “the law makes it illegal for any health insurance plan to use pre-existing conditions to exclude, limit or set unrealistic rates on coverage”
Hey. You guys. That means me. And anyone else out there with MS. We can all get insurance now.
Which is great, because my medications cost around $5,000 a month without insurance. Luckily, I’ve been on my parents’ plan so I’ve never had to pay anywhere close to that. But, not gonna lie, I was totally freaked out about what would happen after I couldn’t be on their plan anymore. How would I get a job right out of college that was good enough to get me good insurance? While many young adults are healthy and would simply not get insurance so they didn’t have to spend the money, that was never going to be an option for me.
Some thoughts I have on health insurance:
1. There are a lot of people on the internet who are talking about Obamacare like it’s some big conspiracy to get us all to buy something that we don’t need. No, this is just how civilized countries do it. I know we’re a little backward (especially here in PA, where we apparently don’t allow expert witness testimony in trials… what?) but this is good news. Universal healthcare is a good idea. People being healthy is good.
2. Our public health insurance system is a little convoluted, and I’m hoping that now that more people will be on public health insurance, the system can be reexamined and fixed. If you’re not sure what I mean by convoluted, here’s an example: A woman who is already on the California version of Medicaid, Medi-Cal, who needs breast or cervical cancer screening, must also apply to the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP) and then, if she also needs screening or treatment for cardiovascular problems, must sign up for a third program, WISEWOMAN. There’s no good reason for those to be three separate programs, as far as I can tell, and I spent a semester studying the whole system. Hopefully Obamacare will lead to some streamlining of public health insurance!
3. Many people seem to be upset about the “healthy” people taking care of the “sick” people. This is really bizarre to me. Health is not a permanent condition. People always ask me how I got MS, and they always seem to be hoping for it to be something that I did. They want to blame it on me (do I drink? do I smoke? do I not eat enough vegetables? do I not exercise enough? do I watch too much TV? do I get enough sleep?) so that they can have some way of avoiding it. If they can figure out what I did “wrong,” then they can just not do it and stay healthy. That’s not how it works. One day I was healthy and the next day I woke up nauseous. One day I thought I might have Lyme disease and the next day I knew I had MS. For a lot of diseases, it’s not about doing something “wrong.” They just come out of nowhere. Cancer can hit anyone. MS can too. Healthy people are not likely to stay that way, and perhaps they should be a little bit nicer about taking care of us “sick” people. Because they’re probably paying it forward.
4. People’s idea of “expensive” medical care is very strange to me. In a class I took last semester, a professor defined “expensive” medical care as being $5,000 per year. As I already mentioned, my meds are $5,000 per month. AKA $60,000 per year. When I first tried to talk about this to some of my friends, I wasn’t explaining it that well, and their response was “yeah, but you’re not the average person.” The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that many other people are in my situation. My syringes cost $143 each and can only be used once. I need one per day. That’s true for everyone on Copaxone. There’s probably a similar cost for other injectable medications as well, including medications for diabetics and blood-thinners. Sometimes it seems like people are mad at those who use the ER for doctor’s visits because they don’t have insurance or people who are on a lot of prescription meds that they don’t need, and think of those people as the only ones with “expensive” medical care. That makes “expensive” medical care seem unnecessary. That’s not the case for those of us with chronic illness, and I think our situation needs to be publicized and discussed. We have “expensive” medical care, in numbers too big for a lot of people to even fathom. And it’s very, very necessary.
Aside from that, apparently CNN mis-announced the results at first, leading to a slew of highly embarrassing “Goodbye Obamacare!” happy facebook statuses. I love when Republicans look dumb. Lucky for me, the Tea Party keeps talking!
TL;DR health insurance is important for sick people, and healthy people don’t always stay that way so they should be happy too. Yay Obamacare!