My wife, Alma, celebrates her 60th birthday tomorrow. I use the word “celebrates” loosely. Last fall she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the bone marrow. She has been undergoing aggressive treatment since the diagnosis and the disease is now in remission.
There is a treatment involving the extraction, freezing and re-implanting her own stem cells and massive chemotherapy available which could prolong her life for an unknown number of years. The only problem is that it costs nearly a quarter of a million dollars. We’re hoping the new insurance I have through my work place will cover it, but we’re just not sure that it will. She lost her insurance through her former job when her grace period to return to work ran out. She cannot go back to work, probably ever. Fortunately, she does have disability insurance, and we’re trying to get her on Social Security disability so we can get her Medicaid or Medicare benefits.
Since she’s in remission, the doctors want her to go to Seattle ASAP for the transplant/chemo treatment. When she called the new insurance company, she was told, rather coldly, that there is a one-year waiting period – no exceptions. It doesn’t matter if it’s a matter of life or death; no exceptions. And never mind that they might be breaking HIPPA laws, because there was no interruption of coverage between her former insurance coverage and the current coverage. No exceptions!
I know there are those of the conservative bent who vehemently oppose any kind of national health plan, or as they would call it, “socialized medicine.” Most of the other developed countries in the west have national health coverage, but not the good ol’ USA. It might raise taxes a little so we can’t afford the fancy new RV, boat or summer home we’ve just got to have. We can spend billions and billions of dollars fighting an unwinnable war in Iraq, but we can’t afford a national health plan?
I served four years in the U. S. Navy during the Vietnam fiasco. The current state of affairs in this country – the neoconservatism and the “screw you, I’ve got mine, to hell with you” attitude that so many people have adopted here make me wonder why I didn’t run off to Canada back then. At least the Canadians have a national health plan.