Friday, June 17, 2011

Repeal Obamacare? Over my dead body!

Actually, in the title above I reversed the order of potential events. A recent battle convinced me this dire prediction isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the back story:

I’m sick. Really sick. I’ve dealt with serious illness all my life. I don’t usually mention it, except when it comes up naturally in conversation, I need accommodation for my condition, or it’s relevant to my writing about the economic necessity for the country to provide comprehensive and preventive health care for everyone without exception.

My experience shows the profit-driven medical industry is irreparably broken. That’s why I’m sharing this account of my latest conflict with Big Business. The problem occurred because of two factors:

  • The few drugs I take are vital for my survival. Previously, doctors gave me other drugs, but serious reactions proved I’m taking the best, safest drugs for my combination of conditions.
  • I have an extreme allergy to the chemical food dyes--red, yellow, blue, green--that make pills pretty. Two years ago, I took two colored pills one at a time almost two months apart and landed in ICU for two days.

That’s why I’m so careful about drugs. No pretty pills. One drug comes in capsules, but I transfer it to clear gelatin capsules purchased separately. The process is tedious, but it beats ICU.

My sensitivity began gradually years ago until it became life-threatening. I’m well aware another exposure could send me straight to that windowless basement room with refrigerated compartments. That’s why I’ll never eat another bite of food or take another pill that’s pretty enough to die for.

Meanwhile, drug companies are cutting product lines, so it’s hard to find certain medications; insurance companies designate where clients can purchase drugs; and people like me get caught in the vise. Two months ago our designated mail-order supplier (which I’ll call MO, for convenience) informed me generic capsules were unavailable and my “choices” were pretty-colored tablets. When I explained tablets are verboten, I was told to find a source myself.

I contacted the manufacturer that produces the brand drug in capsule form. When I called MO back, I learned they only buy drugs through authorized suppliers. No exceptions. After two months they finally said my local pharmacy could order the brand drug, but when my drug store did that, MO denied payment.

Then someone at MO sent me a bottle of pretty blue pills! My initial reaction was that they were so tired of hearing my complaints, they wanted me to take the pills and die! Then they wouldn’t have to hear from me again.

When I called MO about it, I mentioned the “poison” pills often. Finally, MO said my local pharmacy could request an override of the payment denial. Finally! Of course, now I have to pay five times as much each month as I used to pay every three months. Meanwhile, MO did charge for those poison pills, and they’ve made no attempt to pay it back or credit our account.

But there’s a bright light ahead. My husband is retiring soon. Medicare and supplemental policies allow greater choice, including our local pharmacy’s mail-order service. They were our provider several years ago, and their customer service is superb. We can’t wait.

This experience demonstrates two vital points:

  • Just as with all battles I’ve had to wage to obtain diagnoses and care, the time and energy I spent on this quest for a simple but necessary treatment has made me sicker and kept me from doing my real work.
  • The only way to correct our fractured medical industry is to establish a universal single-payer health care system in which anyone may choose any provider and all providers must adhere to a national standard of care and serve each individual’s medical needs.

If I hadn’t had to spend so much time and energy researching, educating, and fighting for every little thing I needed for my care over the years, I wouldn’t be as sick as I am today. And my experiences are not unique. Numerous reports indicate this kind of thing, and worse, occurs to thousands of people all over the country.

We must stop wasting human resources and start helping everyone enjoy the most productive lives possible. Instead of repealing Obamacare, Congress should improve it and expand coverage to everyone in the country.

No comments:

Post a Comment