An unhealthy system

Magalia resident Molly Armfield is 47 and married with four adult children and three grandchildren. She is active in an online community for multiple sclerosis.

As I write these words, people all across America are dying because an insurance company has denied them life-saving treatments—or they’re among the 47 million with no insurance at all.

The last thing that should be on the mind of a sick person is will my insurance cover this treatment? The last thing that should be on the mind of an uninsured person with chest pains is should I call 911 or have someone drive me to the hospital so I can save the cost of an ambulance ride? The last thing that should be on the mind of concerned relatives is will we lose him before he can get proper care?

The only way to get health-care reform is through honest change. When politicians are paid by insurance companies to keep their mouths shut and not rock the boat, we have a serious problem.

So, I’ve decided to rock the boat. The best way that I know how to do this is to tell my story.

In 1999, I was struck with multiple sclerosis. I had COBRA coverage from my ex-spouse’s employer. They were good benefits—a PPO as opposed to an HMO—so the red tape was reduced. I had those benefits for 36 months, and I paid handsomely for them.

What happened when those benefits ran out? Well, I could have continued to keep them at double the price, which I couldn’t afford, or I could apply for Medicaid, since my income was low enough to qualify. However, I found out I had to share the cost, to the tune of $754 a month, before the state would help pick up my tab.

Fortunately (in an ironic way) I became disabled enough to get Medi-Cal, with no share of cost at this time.

Doctors with private practices would love to be able to see patients on Medi-Cal, but with what the state is willing to pay, it’s impossible for them to stay afloat. So patients get sent to clinics that are bogged down with a lot of sick and poor people. The patient with a chronic disease like mine only has one thing to do: wait, and wait some more.

I’m frustrated as hell trying to get the latest treatments for my M.S. The only thing I’m asking for is the same treatment as our elected officials—what Rep. Wally Herger would get if he were to suddenly come down with a life-threatening illness.

We need affordable, decent health care for all Americans, not just the privileged few. Do not think for one minute that just because you’re poor or in the middle class that you don’t have a voice.