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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So. Asthma. And a Rampage About Health Care in our Country.

OK, so I touched in my last post on the fact that Finn was officially diagnosed with asthma. I'm annoyed. You know, the whole time Finn had cancer, I never asked why. Because really, why anyone? I didn't ask why my kid because it could be anyone's kid. Or husband, sister, mother, friend, etc. It sucks no matter how you slice it.

I didn't ask why when he had to get glasses.

I didn't ask why when he was diagnosed with the sensory issues.

But now, I've had it. Asthma? Seriously? Why? Why does he have to deal with something else?

This kid should have a free pass from now on as far as I'm concerned.

I'm just pissed off and annoyed. I'm annoyed that my kitchen counter once again looks like a pharmacy. I'm annoyed that he has to sit on the couch with a tube in his mouth twice a day so he can know what it's like to breathe freely like the rest of us do. I'm annoyed that his medication is currently running about $150 FOR A TWO WEEK SUPPLY--that's our share after the insurance pays it's share.

I remember when we were paying for chemo. When Finn was ready to start preschool, he was just finishing chemo, so we said to ourselves, "Well, chemo money will now be preschool money." When Finn finished preschool, we found out we had to pay for all-day kindergarten. So we said to ourselves, "Well, preschool money will now be kindergarten money." And then during kidnergarten, we had the added bonus of paying for occupational therapy for his sensory issues. Not exactly a drop in the bucket.

So this year we thought we'd be pocketing some cash for a change with no OT, no kindergarten tuition, no preschool or chemo to pay for. Ah, finally something to look forward to.

Apparently not.

I cannot get over how expensive this medication is. Granted, hopefully we'll only have to pay this outrageous price for a few months, then he'll cut down to taking it only once a day and our outlay will only be half as outrageous.

I just want you to know where I'm coming from right now.

I'm mad at the world.

And, just to get everyone really riled up, I'm so mad at the way our country is being run right now.

I'm not a Republic or Democrat. Seriously, I'm not affiliated with either party right now because frankly, they're all a bunch of crooks (and that is said with apologies to the ONE, and I mean only one, politician that I have ever encountered that I think is the real deal--really working for the people instead of himself, Hank Brown from Colorado, I interviewed him for an article and was amazed by him--but I digress).

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right. I'm in a rage about Republicans and Democrats alike. Nancy Pelosi? I wish a tree would fall on her. Right now. I know, I know, it's such a hateful thing to say, but I don't know how someone can stand up in front of God and country and say how hard they are working for the people when you have as much going on behind the scenes that is total bull as that woman does.

And health care reform? What a crock. What's missing from all of "their" proposed bills, plans and big ideas? Hmmm? Maybe REFORM? If I showed you the tens of thousands of dollars in health care bills lying around our house, you'd freak. Ever taken a look at what big ticket items, like, say cancer or nearly cutting off a few fingers in a saw will cost you? Medical bankruptcy. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

As an example, Eamonn has been working with the local hospital and physical therapy office to deal with the exorbitant payments we owe on his hand (and I'm not telling you all of this because I want you to feel sorry for us; I'm telling you this because it could happen to anyone. We're all just one quick medical nightmare from bankruptcy. And I want you to be mad about it so that something gets done to change it.).

So, back to Eamonn and the hand. We still owe many, many thousands of dollars to cover what insurance didn't cover. Eamonn was talking to the PT place and found out that the PT facility has already received from our insurance company MORE than it would have received from a Medicare patient. Hmmm, so someone who comes in with Medicare pays a different rate then we pay because we have different insurance? And so, because we had "better" insurance, we are left holding the bag for thousands more. Many of you may already know this. We're just discovering the joys of all of it now.

And don't even get me started about how only one person in our house (Declan) qualifies for "normal" insurance right now. The rest of us all had to go on different state plans because no one would give us covereage because of pre-existing conditions. A bad pap smear. Yep, it will keep you from getting insurance, even when the result was wrong and a biopsy proves it. They won't care.

Oh good grief. What a rambling rampage I'm on. I think the frustrating thing is that I see no light at the end of this hideous health care tunnel. If you are anything but a perfectly healthy person, you're screwed. And you may think you're healthy, but that nosebleed you had last week? Well, the insurance company is convinced you have a brain tumor and will send you a letter telling you they'll cover everything except to any current or future ear, nose, throat, brain or cancer issues.

All of these reforms people in our government are talking about? It's all just window dressing so they can say they're doing something for the people. What people???? I think it's the people with nothing. The rest of the "middle class" is totally getting screwed. I just read an article about how the privately insured will still see huge premium increases under "ObamaCare." Huge increases? I got nowhere else to go, people!

And don't get me started on the whole topic of why are our legislators designing a health care program for "the rest of us" when they won't even be using it? I want to be on their plan! Hell, I'm paying for it!

I'm going to go take a valium and calm down. Oh wait. I can't. My horrible prescription coverage makes valium too expensive.

A few deep breaths.

So my point here is to put a face on this health care dilemma. It's not just the homeless and jobless and illegal immigrants who are having trouble. It's people you know. It's my family. A two-income family that just happens to be privately insured, who has worked their asses off and has nothing but boxes of medical bills and fricking EOBs to show for it.

And has a child who has survived cancer, for which I'm grateful, just in case it sounds like I'm not. I'll trade financial solvency for my children's health any day, just so you know.

But it shouldn't have to be this way.

And so what does all of this mean in my twisted mind? Do we need government run health care? No. Why? Because no government run by either party could run it effectively, in my mind. They're all crooks and bandits and couldn't successfully run an ice cream stand at the beach in the middle of July without a whole bunch of paperwork filled out before you could purchase your artificially flavored popsicle, which was approved by the FDA, but is killing you.

What we do need is reform of the insurance industry, which frankly, will never happen because of the lobbying that goes on in this country. We need reform of the medical system simultaneously. They say they charge so much because the insurance industry reimburses too little. So frankly, they both need a kick in the ass and some good penalties to force them to get their respective acts together.

Most importantly, and more important than the ravings of a crazed woman like myself, what is happening with Finn? For now he'll need to use a nebulizer two times a day to get him straightened away and breathing normally. Hopefully we can cut that down to once a day. And then hopefully he'll grow out of it.

But until then I'll be exploring all sorts of other things--changes to diet, accupuncture, voodoo, etc.--to see if there's a better way to help him. Let's face it, did you expect that I'd do anything less than explore some whackadoo alternative medicine? Admit it--you'd be disappointed if I didn't.

Yours in Nuttiness,
Natalie

PS--I don't know how to make our government see what is happening to the "little people" and make them understand, and my frustration stems from that. Let's see if my blog post can go viral on the Internet. Send every person you can to this post and maybe I'll end up on the Today show talking about the real face of health care!

17 comments:

sportzmom said...

Amen! You made my blood pressure rise just reading your post as insurance companies and I don't get along at all. I cannot believe how little they cover and how much I have to pay for the coverage. (oh and how much I have to pay for what they don't cover!) I'm sorry Finn has asthma. Two of mine used to have infection-induced asthma and they both outgrew it. Hopefully, Finn will too.

I will help spread the word about your post. Happy Tuesday!

in a world surrounded by men said...

Good points and I'm with you about Pelosi and the politicians.

And, oh, I heard that Double Stuff Oreos are good for mothers of kids with asthma.

Kathleen said...

Amen. I feel like I have been on the same rampage lately on this same topic with no one agreeing with me. All of my friends think I am be overly dramatic in my opinion of our lovely government.

Anonymous said...

I'm so with you! My 25 year old was recently hired permanently at his workplace and they just kind of threw the insurance paperwork at him and didn't give him much time to look it over before choosing a plan. When he went to the pharmacy to pick up his four prescriptions, he found out that he doesn't have any rx coverage. His meds run about $500 a month. He's going back to giving himself a shot of testosterone every 3 weeks (that stuff is as thick as Karo syrup and you have to use a HUGE needle) because it's hopefully a little cheaper than Androgel. It's a good thing he still lives at home, because he'd never be able to afford it if he had rent to pay!
Good luck with Finn's asthma, hopefully it will get under control soon and he won't need as many meds and will get to the point where it doesn't really affect his daily activities. I'll keep him in my prayers!
Sheila in Minnesota (and a FB friend)

The Professional Bag Lady said...

Bravo! You hit the nail on the head - and now you need to hit a couple of senators on the head!!!!

I am so sorry for Finn's asthma issues... as an asthmatic myself, I know what a frightening thing it is not to be able to catch your breath. The one thing I am thankful for is that there is treatment for it... albeit pricey. I have insurance through the school district, but it isn't that great... but vs. being uninsured which I was for almost 5 years.

Being over 50 and having pre-existing conditions... it makes buying insurance for myself very prohibitive and actually out of reach... so I continue to work in a low (very low) paying job in the school district in exchange for health insurance.

So I hear you... BTW I too have met Hank Brown and just thought he was a great guy!

You ought to put your rant in letter to the editor form and send it to the Denver Post, Boulder Daily Camera, and wherever else you can to get the word out!!

Love to all of you!
Sherrill

1dreamr said...

Kudos for a *great* post.

The rich can afford insurance and medical care, the poor get it for free, and we - the middle class - are taking the brunt of it. We're getting screwed up, down, and sideways.

Step into the ER at Riverside or St. Ann's. Pay your $150 copay just to *walk in the door*, then look around. I'd venture to say that 75% of those in that waiting room aren't paying a dime. They're on welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid, and you and I are footing their bill in addition to our own.

Health care in this country is a travesty, and sadly, I don't have much faith in things improving.

And, you're right. We're ALL on the brink of medical bankruptcy and *that* is terrifying.

Kristie said...

Natalie, I'm so sorry for your frustration. I've said repeatedly that if it weren't for Blaine's military health care, we'd be bankrupt ... not once, but twice. It saved us with both cancer diagnoses and I will be forever grateful. Ironically, though, for the "normal" stuff, it offers benefits not much better than Medicaid, so many MANY private physicians refuse to take it. My husband works for the government, with 20+ years in the military, and our insurance is basically crap that no one will accept. But I'd be willing to bet that the big-wig men and women working in the "government" don't have this issue of trying to find doctors that will even accept their plan. I don't know what the answer is, but I like your idea about a big tree falling on all of them.
PS. Kendrie has exercise - induced asthma ..... do you know any statistics for kids getting diagnosed with asthma post-cancer treatment? Hers is mild, though .... hope Finn's is calmed down soon, as well.

Amber said...

I COMPLETELY agree. My youngest was diagnosed with asthma 3 months before her first birthday (she turned 3 in Sept.) and she has been doing a minimum of 2 breathing treatments a day, if she gets sick - it's 8 per day. We've tried inhalers instead of the breathing treatments (they are cheaper), but they cause her face to break out in eczema. So back to the nebulizer. If you have any questions, please email me!

Anonymous said...

SING IT, SISTER!!!We too are self insured. And while I thankfully have a very healthy family, our daughter takes daily medication for ADD...it does not come cheep! But it helps her, so we find a way to include it in the monthly bills. In the spring, one of our sons was very ill with a strange virus and was hospitalized for 3 days. He made a full recovery...and I am so very lucky that our insurance paid for most of his treatment (We only have a small amount that we are paying off). But when I saw the itemized bill...I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES. One of the medications he recieved was $30,000. Yes, $30,000!!! What could possibly cost that much??? So I agree with you...we need a total overhaul. From insurance providers to drug companies...it is all a racket. And the big wigs in those companies are living large while the rest of us try to scrape by...I don't get it.
Meg...CT

jean said...

I could tell that you were (are) really upset about this subject, b/c your spelling was off. :-)

How long does a pre-existing condition stay on your file? Forever? I thought in OH that they had to cover them after 1 yr, but I could be wrong.

Those of us who are healthy and have company insurance live in a bubble, and can't even begin to imagine what you are going through. That doesn't mean that we should sit back & watch you stress out about your insurance (or lack thereof). The system is broken, but gov't health care is NOT the answer. We'll try to get you on the Today show so you can give a face to this 'solution' they're trying to get us to buy into.

Anonymous said...

If a bunch of us pool our money, can we send you to DC to scream all this from the steps of Congress?
I just went through a process to get an MRI 'pre approved'. Now I get an EOB stating that I owe the full amount for the MRI cause, get this, I've decided to try to deal with the torn laburm in my hip through changes in exercise and Advil for now instead of rushing into surgury. Their point of view, if I'm not rushing into surgery, the MRI wasn't necessary. Oh, and don't get me started on when they wouldn't pay for anti-viral meds to save my liver but would cover a liver transplant. The whole industry is a scam. I love when people use the whole 'people are dying in the streets, we must save them' argument. Uh, no. They are getting their healthcare for free. The rest of us are going broke.
I hope Finn is feeling better and is one of the kids that 'outgrow' asthma. I did.

Laura said...

Amen Sister Amen! Just got a notice here at work that our insurance will be going up. I can barely afford the monthly fees, much less actually going to the doctor, yet my sis-n-law who chooses not to work gets it all for free. I better quit right there.

Cate said...

How do you give a standing O on the net?

Shauna said...

Natalie-Try googling the medication. Sometimes the drug companies have "coupons" for freebies for prescriptions. Also ask the allergist for samples, they should have a bunch of them if it is common asthma meds such as xopenex, etc. Good luck-ugh!

RSM Dianne said...

Oh, don't get me started. My husband has a small business, and it's doing ok, right now. But we just review our insurance, open enrollement, and all that...we now have the privilege of paying $847/month for insurance for our family of 5, with a PPO through Aetna. But wait, it gets better, that $847/month buys us a $3000 PER PERSON deductible, $6000 family max, before our insurance kicks in. My 16 year old son, unfortunately, has horrible acne. Yes, acne. 9 months of Rx for Duac (at $180/month), a couple of months of Pro-Active (save your over the counter money), a month of oral antibiotics and Retin-A, before our insurance co. would precertify and approve generic accutane. At CVS, Sotret, generic accutane, 30 little pills, $580/MONTH! Our derm was fantastic and worked with our ins. and the pharm, so now we "only" have to pay $240/month for his generic accutane, for the next 5 months, on top of the monthly dr visits, and monthly blood work...all for 16 year old acne. He's horribly self conscious and I feel so bad for him, esp. since he's an actor on stage :( We do ok, financially, but still, even with insurance, we pay a buttload...why? Just because my husband has a successful very-small-business? Very frustrating...

Anonymous said...

You rock, Natalie! I do hope Finn will outgrow this new problem.

Now on to meds, don't any of you check the Canadian prices. David's eye drops run $125.00 in the US , I get exactly the same generic from Canada for $35.00. In Paris last month, I asked if they had them and bought a bottle of the NAME Brand for 18 Euros!One of his other meds is $400.00/ 90 day supply in US, same brand from Canada $125.00/90 day supply.

Odering is easy, then you have to fax them the prescription. I ususally get the stuff in under 2 weeks. I use

http://www.canadapharmacy.com/

Even being on Medicare does not stop costing. We pay $500.00 a month for the 2 of us for Medicare and a supplement that picks up what Medicare doesn't cover.


Jody

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a Canadian who has government run health care I can tell you that although the system is not perfect it is much better than the insurance system you guys have.

Our system does not cover 100% of the costs so those that are self- employed still have out of pocket costs such as prescription drugs. Insurance companies here are not allowed to exclude a person because they have expensive drugs to pay for.

In all of Katie's treatments we spent at most $200 per year on medical costs.

I would say that although the politicians are not trustworthy there are many many civil servants that really run the system that are.

Sorry to read that you have Asthma to deal with.