Monday, June 25, 2007

Health Care doesn't care

My family makes up four of the 50, 000, 000 Americans that do not have Health Insurance. My parents own and run a small store, yet can not get insurance as a small business because they do not have enough employees. Furthermore, it is difficult for my father specifically to get health insurance because he has a preexisting condition, Cerebral Palsy. Yes, that is a condition one is born or gets as an infant or toddler. Up to this point, my family has been very lucky as none of us have gotten extremely sick and we have somehow managed to pay for the different medications for my dad's neural and blood pressure problems, along with my sisters enhalers and asthma medication. My mom told me that one day when she went to the pharmacy to get numerous medications for my sister and father, she ended up spending over 300 dollars. Three hundred dollars a month is quite a bit of money for a family to be spending on medications.

The fact that my family has had a hard time getting insurance doesn't really bother me, I can see why a big company does not want to risk spending a bunch of money on my father if he were to fall or something. I also see that it's not right because my family has just as much a right to be healthy and happy as anyone else. It does irk me that when we did have insurance, we could not afford to keep it and it barely covered any of our medical expensive. My mom worked as a teacher's assistant at a public school, so we had the chance of getting that wonderful benefit of health insurance. The only thing was, it ate up her monthly check and when I went for a physical check up at the doctor's office, it still costed us 50 dollars. Without the insurance, the doctors visit would have costed us 70 dollars. The insurance company paid a whopping 20 dollars. Woo Hoo!

My mother dropped that insurance and went with the option called Flex Spending. This paid for none of the medical costs up front, but my parents were reimberced for whatever medical expences they paid for. This seemed to work out pretty well, but now we no longer get reimbersed for doctor expences, medication costs, or the money we spent on my ER visit, not since my mom left the school to help my dad fulfill his dream of running his own business.

When I was growing up, my family did not have a lot of money. My mom worked in the school systems and my dad worked many jobs, at one point he was working 3 jobs. Because we did not have extra money to waste on things like dental check ups, I made sure to take care of myself as good as possible and not to complain when I was sick or hurt. I lived by the motto, "What doesn't kill you, will make you stonger."

Last summer, in fact almost a year ago to the date, I fell backwards out of my father's Chevy Van while unloading crates of two liters to take into the storage room of the store. The latch that catches the sliding door caught the back of my bare upper arm and ripped the skin as if it were an envelope almost half way around my arm. I landed on the sidewalk, the only real pain I felt was in my ankle which was not really harmed, just bruised. My father ran over to help me when he saw my arm he told me to get in the car, that I was going to hospital. I did not want to go to the hospital, I knew that would cost a lot of money and the last thing I wanted was to be a financial burden on my parents, just because I am a cluts. I told him no, I would be was only a scratch. My jaw dropped when my dad said he could see my triceps. Reaching around I felt the gash in my arm along with the six inch slither of skin that hung from it. On the ride to the hospital I worried about whether or not I might have nerve damage or muscle damage, but mostly I think I worried about how much this would cost my parents because we did not have health insurance.

It may seem a bit hippocritical that I want to go into a health care profession, because in the U.S., health care workers are limited to the amount of help they can give based on how much insurance companies are willing to pay. This is a system I completely disagree with, as I am hoping to become a physical therapist and I would like to think that I will be able to help people until they are cured. However, I had a friend that tore her ACL and damaged a few other things in her knee. She was in my dorm room when a man came with a machine that she needed in her recovery. He showed her how to use it and set the timers and everything. This was all fine but what disgusted me was when she asked the man about how long she would need the machine, the man answered somewhere along the lines of "Your insurance company is paying for about four weeks." Excuse me, but as a Physical Therapy major, I know people vary in recovery time. What if she needs it for longer? and notice the question had nothing to do with how long the insurance company was paying for it.

My guess is that insurance company workers don't know much about human anatomy and physiology... what gives them the authority to determine how long a young women will need a medical device? OH WAIT, I know! Their authority is based on how much they are willing to dish out of their wallets.

I recently watched Michael Moore's new video, Sicko. Coming from a conservative family, I found this to be a very difficult thing to do. However, I found that I could identify with many of the people in the film as I know what it is like to live without insurance, be denied insurance, even live with insurance that costs an arm and a leg but does not even cover a tooth. I agree that the American Healthcare system is broken, reform is needed. I don't see much wrong with socialized medicine. I mean, we have socialized firefighters. The firemen don't stop to ask if you are preapproved before they put out your house fire, why should a doctor ask the same question before he or she saves your life? As a future physical therapists, I would be a proud to be a government employee, as long as my future patients recieve the care that they need instead of the care they can afford.

For those interested in learning more about the movie visit:


Anonymous said...

Hi Cassie,
I am a coordinating producer for Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, a kids' television program that airs on Nickelodeon.

I found your blog while researching a story about families without health care. We are doing a segment about the uninsured, and are looking for kids between the ages of 12-16 who can talk about a family member being uninsured and how that has impacted the family.

You mentioned your sister -- by any chance is she younger than you and in the 12-16 age range?

If so, do you think she may be interested in speaking to me? I can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 609-279-0863.

Kara Pothier

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