I met Barack Obama in September of 2007. Before I go any further, I need to qualify that I wasn’t granted much more than a handshake. Still, at the time I remember being quite excited at the prospect. The venue was the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta and as one of several volunteers I was assigned specifically to crowd control. A large gathering of people being correctly corralled and directed into the room where the event would be held, I settled in like everyone else to enjoy the presentation. After a lengthy number of speakers that came before Obama, most notably the R&B singer Usher, the candidate himself finally appeared. Unsurprisingly, he was as good as advertised and I found myself nodding along with every point he made. Oprah had but recently endorsed him, though he was still very much in a distant second place to Hillary Clinton.
Nov 04 2010
Mar 08 2010
Over the past several months I’ve continued to document my problems with our broken health care system, particularly focusing on the options provided by those who are either unemployed, disabled, or who work low-wage jobs in which their employer does not provide the option of coverage. My hope upon doing so is that more people will recognize the depths of the problem beyond just the soundbytes, the smears, and the distortions. I aim to record the truth, not the fear-based rhetoric that many accept as God’s honest truth. What I have discovered is that the problem goes much deeper than a position statement and only modestly resembles the demonizing propaganda disseminated by those who would kill reform altogether. The real issues are just as troublesome, though they are far more ordinary and less inclined to high drama.
Today’s latest hassle involves a matter of incorrect bill coding. An insurance claim for lab work was not processed properly, so I opened the mailbox Saturday to find an eye-opening bill for a mere $1,323. To say that I couldn’t exactly pay it in full would be an understatement. Along with the bill was an itemized statement listing the cost of the twelve separate tests that were run. Those who have a chronic illness of their own recognize that upon seeing a new specialist or doctor, he or she will often order several lab profiles at first as a means of eliminating other extenuating circumstances that might complicate the treatment of a primary diagnosis. Sensible enough, except that many these tests are very expensive. A test for Hepatitis, for example, cost $366, and a full drug screen cost $217. Those with excellent insurance never blink an eye about the prohibitive cost, of course, because for them it is almost always covered in full.
For those with sub-standard or nonexistent coverage, however, the situation is quite different. As I have mentioned before, I have bipolar disorder, and as such take Lithium to stabilize my moods. Lithium is a notoriously difficult drug to regulate because the most minor changes in environment or other seemingly innocuous changes will cause the levels in the bloodstream to vary considerably over time. There is no other way to accurately measure its concentration in the bloodstream except through drawing blood and over the years I have gotten used to it, as best as one can under the circumstances. Still, I report with much frustration that even a simple Lithium serum level costs $64 without insurance. Someone who also has bipolar and is living in poverty could not easily afford to spend this kind of money and would likely choose to either go off his/her medication altogether, or stay on the meds and go months without having a lab profile, both of which are extremely dangerous options.
Nov 03 2009
The current squabbling over whether or not abortion would be government funded in some kind of back door fashion accentuates how conflicted we are as a nation regarding the procedure. When many private plans cover the procedure, I find most unfair to expect somehow that government coverage would not include the same provision in the spirit of strict parity. If some are holding government to some kind of moral higher standard than the sainted private sector, then I guess I can’t understand why anti-choice legislators are attempting to impose their will upon a supposedly evil, fallen entity whose name is government in ways that they are unwilling to extend to business, whose radiant goodness is known to all. This discrepancy continues to show how much of a shill certain politicians have become for the rich, the powerful, and the well connected at the expense of sense and even their own stated convictions.