SJ Robinson is a nurse-turned-lawyer experienced in medical malpractice cases and author of The Price of Death, a story about waste and profit in our healthcare system, a problem that kills 98,000 people annually as a result of medical error and 18,000 because they cannot afford medical care. As a result of her experience she wrote the book to warn others. Find more at: sjrobinson.com
It Can’t Happen to Me! That is what I always thought. But as I was filling out the multipart, 324-question application form for an individual plan of health insurance, it became clear to me that my financial health depended on my physical health. Having lost my group plan when leaving my employment, I needed individual coverage. I’d had a vague question in the back of my mind before that moment about how hard it could be to get individual coverage, but filling out the application brought the matter home.
If I couldn’t get this individual policy and I got sick, my savings could be wiped out in a matter of months. There is no way anyone but the very rich can afford to pay out of pocket the hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical care for a serious condition.
What has been even more eye-opening is that others seem to be just as oblivious to the potential danger of lack of health insurance as I was. Apparently it doesn’t mean nearly as much until it happens to you. Until then, it’s the other guy.
It’s the other guy who lost his job and group insurance, who discovered that he had prostate cancer and couldn’t get treatment because the hospital wants a “downpayment” of $20,000 before admitting him. See AARP, Cash before Care: The Shocking Truth About Upfront Hospital Fees
It’s the other guy who was forced to file bankruptcy because his employer didn’t realize that the group policy he provided for his employees was from one of the 144 bogus insurance entities documented by the Government Accounting Office between 2000 and 2002. GAO-04-512T. That other guy filed bankruptcy after he found out that he owed thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.
It’s the other guy who felt lucky because he was able to obtain an individual insurance plan, but got sick, and found out that his insurance company cancelled his policy or denied his claim as a pre-existing condition.
Fortunately or unfortunately, we now have Medicare for those over 65. Obviously those who have the insurance are fortunate, but they don’t realize that if they hadn’t graduated directly from an employer group policy to Medicare, how difficult it would have been to find real coverage at an affordable price.
And we even hear about people who are covered by Medicare but have to choose between buying groceries or their medicine. But those are the other guys! It cannot happen to us! We have saved responsibly for our retirement.
The scare prompted me to write a medical mystery novel The Price of Death, to illustrate in real terms the waste and profit in our healthcare system and what caring people can do about it. I hope that neither you nor I become one of the statistics before we have true healthcare reform. Read, learn, and tell others that it can happen to them!