The Crushing Health Care Crisis: How it Affects MS

Mandy Crest Health Guide
  • It gets an eye-popping response. An incredulous look. A momentary stare. That’s what happens when you get specific about the numbers. The numbers being the dollars and cents of health care.

    I’ve been writing about the crushing costs of health care for some time now, but I’ve been preaching to the choir. Writing for a multiple sclerosis blog, my readers are generally people with MS, or people who live with someone who has MS. They already know and understand all too well.

    When the topic of the “health care crisis” comes up in social situations, I see the eyes glaze over when I mention that it is very real. But then again, I never really got down to the numbers. It just never seems to be the appropriate setting to get into it.

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    When MSFocus Magazine asked me to put my numbers in writing for their summer 2008 issue, I was happy to oblige. Naturally, most of the readers of MSFocus are members of that same choir. So I started to show other people. I made a PDF file and emailed it to far-off family and friends. I showed the magazine article around town.

    At last, I’ve seen -- and heard -- the dawn of understanding from people who did not know that

    * In Virginia, where I live, only one insurance company MUST offer an individual insurance policy to all applicants. However, they can limit which policies they offer and there is NO CAP on the premiums they may charge.

    * Virginia does not have a high-risk pool.

    * COBRA is limited to 18-36 months.

    * There’s something called a “Tier 4 Drug,” meaning that insurance companies can set up different, much higher, co-pays than for other prescription drugs.

    * That the only MS disease-modifying drugs available have NO GENERICS and cost from $1,700 - $3,000 per month.

    * My insurance premium is $519 per month. My “Tier 4” co-pay is $500 per month. All told, there are $20,000 in deductibles on my plan.

    They get it now. I get it now. When discussing the state of our health care system, we’ve got to be specific. We’ve got to preach outside the choir.

    There IS a health care crisis in our country, but many still deny it is so. What they don’t realize is that unless they are super-wealthy, they are only a job loss or a major health problem away from finding themselves in my (our) shoes.

    I know this because just five years ago I was one of them. I had full-time work and a good group insurance policy. I heard about this “crisis” and I cared about folks with no insurance, but I didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem. I had never heard the term “under-insured.” I thought I was healthy.

    Out of the clear blue, my health began to fail and I found myself cut back to part-time work. Then came the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Then came the end of COBRA. The rest of the story is in the numbers.

Published On: September 05, 2008