I am not an advocate of 100% government-run health care. It seems un-American. But it also seems un-American that so many of our citizens, particularly children, are allowed to fall through the cracks of our present healthcare system. I believe in choice. The government must put safeguards in place so that basic health care is available to all. Somewhere between entirely government-run and our present 'system' lies a fair and workable solution.
The system in its present form puts much of the decision-making process in the hands of people sitting in the cubicles of insurance companies. Without medical degrees, without patient contact, they make decisions about our health based on their bottom line.
Recently, after several months of waiting, I sat in a doctor's office believing help was at hand at last. The doctor spent all of two minutes with me, said I would need an MRI and left the room. It took me a moment to realize that he wasn't coming back. In came a nurse to tell me that I could go home now. “The doctor said I need an MRI. Don't we need to schedule that?” I asked the nurse. “Yes, go home and wait for a letter” was her reply. “It's our policy. We will contact your insurance company. If they okay it we'll send you a letter telling you when it is scheduled. You should get something within two weeks.”
There was no opportunity for discussion regarding my alternatives should my insurance company deny the MRI. No time for questions. The decision rested squarely in the hands of the insurance company. This is just one small example of how health care is being handled on the front lines. Gone are the days of doctors sitting with their patients and deciding the best course of action together.
Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the enormous stress that has been my companion comes not from the MS itself, but from problems associated with insurance company hassles, maintaining affordable medical insurance and the lack of doctor/patient consultation time. Doctors have less and less time to give their patients, less time to develop a relationship. They've had to increase patient load in order to pay the staff necessary for all the insurance paperwork. Round and round we go.
It shouldn't have to be this hard. Ironically, when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, you are urged to reduce stress in your life to avoid aggravating your condition. Fat chance. If you haven't got good, solid group coverage in place, brace yourself.
The government is planning on stepping in to help those who are experiencing “mortgage crisis”, people who have made conscious financial decisions which aren't turning out so well. How about stepping up on health care for those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in health crisis?
“I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” - George W. Bush, July 10, 2007, Cleveland, Ohio
It's just not that simple. Those of us who live with chronic illness see things differently. America can do better than this. Come election day, let's insist on it.
Published On: January 07, 2008