Healthcare. For everyone.
It's been on my mind and probably yours too if you're reading this post. If you're like me, someone with lifelong conditions like asthma and allergies, who has used or will use medications daily that in some cases are lifesaving (or at least, minimally, you cannot be without) then you cannot be without health care coverage. Thus, who is going to be elected and how they are going to clean up our current health care system is of great concern to us.
I was thinking about health care specifically as I was watching the Democratic National Convention. Sen. Barack Obama spoke so eloquently (and strongly) about what he stands for, about what is important to him, his party and his campaign. And about health care as a national issue of concern. Although I have health care coverage, I was thinking about a friend, an uninsured woman recently diagnosed with uterine fibroids and facing surgery without health insurance.
She's the third woman I know who has uterine fibroids. "African-American and women of Jewish descent are three  times more likely to develop uterine fibroids than Caucasian women." My personal experience completely corroborates those statistics.
One girlfriend, who is Jewish, has her "grapefruit" as she calls it. She had it during her pregnancy five years ago and it's still there. Even though she has health coverage, and her husband's a doctor, she doesn't go in; she doesn't want to know what her gynecologist will say.
Another friend, who is African-American with great health coverage through her law firm, had her uterine fibroids removed two years ago. Doctors told her it would be unlikely that she could get pregnant. Currently, she's five months pregnant. Mom and baby are both healthy and she goes in for regular check-ups.
My third friend, also African-American, just found out that she has uterine fibroids. What makes this story different is that this friend doesn't have health insurance. A few years ago she left her job with a city college, moved out west to live with her sister and has been freelancing ever since. Needless to say, she has been going without health coverage since she left her city job. That was working for her until now. She went to see a doctor because periods have been irregular, heavy, painful and lasting around 45 days. She finally had to go to the doctor where they discovered a grapefruit-sized uterine fibroid that needs to come out.
The new health care coverage plans?
So what will Obama do if he's elected to help someone like my friend, who is self-employed?
From Sen. Obama's site:
Obama's Plan to Cover Uninsured Americans: Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress.
The Obama plan will have the following features:
1. Guaranteed eligibility. No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.
2. Comprehensive benefits. The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care.
3. Affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
4. Subsidies. Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.
5. Simplified paperwork and reined in health costs.
6. Easy enrollment. The new public plan will be simple to enroll in and provide ready access to coverage.
7. Portability and choice. Participants in the new public plan and the National Health Insurance Exchange (see below) will be able to move from job to job without changing or jeopardizing their health care coverage.
8. Quality and efficiency. Participating insurance companies in the new public program will be required to report data to ensure that standards for quality, health information technology and administration are being met.
I think it remains to be seen how this will actually play out if Obama is elected. It sounds too good to be true especially given the state of managed health care and the hold that they have on everyone: doctors, hospitals and we the ones who pay for the services. Besides, the changes will take year to implement, my uninsured friend, in the meantime, has some hard choices to make right now.
Published On: September 03, 2008