I have been uninsured most of my adult life. Even when our kids qualified for TennCare, even when for a brief happy time we were able to insure John via TennCare Standard thanks to his existing medical conditions, unless I qualified via pregnancy, we could not afford to buy private insurance for me. For the most part, in retrospect, that worked out well for us. We gambled on my continued good health, and we won. It would have been nice to be able to go to the doctor for checkups like insured folk, but I was never hit with a medical catastrophe while uninsured.
It’s a gamble taken by many young healthy people, and one some of them don’t win.
Let’s take Jake, my twenty-year-old son, for example. Jake was covered by TennCare until he aged out. He was briefly uninsured until we obtained our policy through the Health Insurance Marketplace earlier this year. If it were not for Obamacare, he would have joined the ranks of the adult uninsured.
Just about a month ago, Jake was cutting some sheet rock with a box cutter when his hand slipped. He ended up in the emergency room with a deep laceration to his right pinky. And a little over a week later he was at the orthopedist’s office being diagnosed with a severed tendon. Then came surgery, and now rehab. So far, we have been to various medical providers seven times. We are just getting started. We will be billed by the hospital, the emergency room doctor, the orthopedist, the surgery center, the anesthesiologist, the supplier of medical equipment, and the physical therapist.
According to the Blue Cross website, about $9,000 in bills have been processed so far. What have we paid? About $150. I realize we will be paying much, much more. We have already met our deductible and have to pay 20%; but we won’t be paying $1,800 of that, because as insured folk we are offered the negotiated rate which is much, much less. Also, as insured folk we are offered the courtesy of being billed. Only the surgery center insisted on being paid up front.
Without Obamacare, this would have been a financial catastrophe. What would we have done? Well, what we would have done probably is gotten help from family members to pay the necessary up front charges, then paid off the rest in installments. But what would happen to a young working man with no family to help him? He could end up without the use of a finger on his dominant hand, permanently affecting his grip and his ability to write, not to mention causing disfigurement. That should not be an option in the United States of America.
Jake has to endure two months or so of not being able to work or drive or write or do much of anything, and that sucks for him. But at the end of it his hand will be almost as good as new, and we won’t be bankrupted by the bills. BIG WIN for Obamacare.
Less dramatic wins . . . John has lost 30 lbs. since his first check up. His cholesterol and triglycerides are now within normal limits, and his diabetes is under control. He will see the doctor for more blood work to monitor his progress in November, and there’s a good possibility he may be able to ditch some medicines then. My third appointment was today. I’ve lost 46 lbs., but much more impressive and important is that my cholesterol and triglycerides are now within normal limits, and every one of my numbers improved since my last appointment. I still have a few points to go on my blood sugar, and then I will be able to sign my name on the “normal numbers” poster on the doctor’s office wall!
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