The state of the economy is front and center in virtually every newspaper and newscast. The mortgage meltdown, stock market troubles, job losses, and increasing costs of everything from food to fuel are impossible to ignore. These are trying times for the family finances.
Health care is a major budgetary item and can take quite a bite, but if someone in your household lives with a chronic condition, such as multiple sclerosis, that bite could be a whopper.
In most households, the mortgage or rent takes the lion's share of monthly income. Each month in our home, premiums on our individual health insurance policies, plus my co-pay for MS medication, trumps the mortgage payment. In a month where a doctor's visit, medical test of any kind, or an additional prescription is required, the toll is even greater. Our rates have increased dramatically with each calendar year, and we are expecting that trend to continue.
I think twice, perhaps three times, before I call the doctor. I don't necessarily agree to follow up visits. I say "no" to additional testing, absent an overwhelming reason from the doctor. I keep my fingers crossed. Naturally, if I thought for a moment that I was in a life and death situation, I wouldn't hesitate to take the necessary steps. I just have to hope that my judgement in that regard is accurate.
I've thought long and hard about giving up my MS medication due to cost. Unlike a diabetes patient who must take insulin, I know that I will not die if I stop the daily injections. On the other hand, it is my only hope that I can keep permanent disability at bay. That's a mighty big incentive, so the scales tip on the side of hope.
The cost of health care is closing in on millions of families from every angle. There are the uninsured and the under insured, from all income levels and economic circumstances. Premiums, out-of-pocket co-pays, and the rising price tag on prescription medications lead me to question how long it will be before the well runs dry.
The emergency room is often touted as the safety net for people with no insurance, or limited financial resources; the ER is of little use to patients who need to keep a chronic illness like MS under control.
How has the state of the economy impacted your household? Have you considered giving up your medications? Are you in danger of losing your insurance because you can no longer afford the premiums? Share your story here.
For more information on the major healthcare issues, like cost control, that will have a big impact in this year's election visit HealthCare'08!