As our new administration takes the helm, hopes are high. Unrealistically so for some, but most of us understand that change does not happen quickly or easily, and anticipate the difficult times in the immediate future of this nation. We’re prepared to be patient.
War and recession and hope and change live simultaneously in our collective consciousness. What can we expect from President Obama’s administration? Hope and change are broad words, subject to interpretation based on our individual life experiences.
We are here in this forum because we share something in common. We are connected through multiple sclerosis. Some of us are patients, some family members, friends, caregivers, and health professionals. No matter what our economic status, profession, or political leanings, MS impacts our lives in profound ways.
MS is what it is. Certainly, our health status will not be altered by the Obama administration. But MS, like other chronic conditions, has far-reaching consequences beyond health. In many ways, the collateral damage of MS is as bad as the disease itself. The economic impact and related stresses can actually aggravate our physical state!
I’m not one to turn to the government to solve all our problems. But when life throws a sucker punch, it doesn’t help that our nation’s health care “system” does the same, leaving us to feel as though we’ve been demoted to second class citizenship.
With the enormous job losses of last year and the expected losses to come, there will be millions more individuals who can no longer carry health insurance. COBRA benefits, while good if you can afford them, are too expensive for most people without employment. Of those who can afford COBRA, benefits last only 18 months.
Individual insurance policies are expensive as well. Too expensive for those who lack employment. Then there are the pre-existing conditions. Laws vary from state to state, but in many cases, a pre-existing condition -- like MS -- is enough to make you uninsurable.
The disease modifying MS drugs are labeled “Tier 4.” Even among those who hang on to coverage, many policies have much higher co-pays for these medications that cost up to $3,000 per month.
Well, there’s always the emergency room. But what good does that do the MS patient? Very little. A diagnosis of MS has backed hundreds of thousands of patients into a tiny corner of health care options.
By now, most people, even those with solid group coverage, acknowledge the problem and understand that they are not truly safe. It could happen to anybody.
So we look to our new president and congress to act on health care reform. They campaigned on their promise to do so and we must hold them to it.
We’re all pulling for you, President Obama. We want you -- need you -- to succeed.
Published On: January 17, 2009