Beacuse of our Campaign For Health Care Choice, which has run nearly 1,000 cable TV spots already in Arkansas-- and because of the writing Ken and I have been doing about the health care debate-- we've been swamped with letters from readers about their own health care perspectives. Although we sometimes refer to them, this is the first one we decided to publish. It comes from a longtime reader who has asked to not be named for professional reasons.
Your blog is so
close to home on health care and taxes, I feel like I could be a poster child. I have been "through the looking glass over the past 5 years. Especially under Bush, but it concerns me that Obama has not stood fast to reverse those policies.
I have and had an injury that caused me to be completely out of work for 3 years... and I'm still recuperating from a rib/ligament injury that makes it tough to breathe... sometimes impossible, until it resolves during a given day. In fact, for the first 3 years, I had such difficulty getting off of our living room floor, the only place I could breathe comfortably (and only on my right side).
In the first 3 years, 2004-2007, I was in one of the nation's “Top 10” hospital systems. (I came to find that rankings are based on financial income, not patient outcomes.)
They were happy to do multiple standard MRI's, scans and so forth, though never finding the problem, and often making fun of me because it was outside their realm. The insurance companies were happy to pay for the many MRI's, CT scans, and a multitude of (unhelpful) drugs they had me on. While this was going on, I had to stop working and was housebound for those 3 years.
While not claiming disability, and while taxes to the very wealthy were being cut, I got audited for "being a hobby" because I could not work. I produced my hundreds of pages of medical records. Amazing. And fortunately, my records, as they always are, were immaculate. Still, I had to hire lawyers for $10k to fight it. I won; the IRS decided that, over a 3 year period, I had to
owe for mileage: $200, because they didn't want to "couldn't be wrong"-- or had to find money anywhere they could... just not from the wealthy. I actually didn't, but paid it. I also heard from many middle income friends during that year who were also being audited for the first time in their entire lives. (It was my first, too.) By the way... I was not able to write off my legal fees for that fight... but let's not stop there!
I found a doctor who was an osteopath for the Pirates and Indians baseball teams, who started a very new procedure (and who, unlike many-- not all-- docs, still goes to school half of his time to keep up) that included help from the massage therapists for the Steelers who noticed my swollen back. The doctors at my famous medical center never touched me once in 3 years, although they ran many many tests, before telling me to live with being disabled.
The massage therapists unwound the 3 years of muscle spasms, allowing the doctors for the Pirates to find the real injury, a ligament that was stretched, which holds in a thoracic rib. His treatment was to centrifuge my blood to the white blood cells (PRP therapy) and reinject it into the ligament to re-tighten it, which the other doctors said was not doable. It worked IMMEDIATELY. My insurance company (Blue Cross) approved it... then, after I had it done, withdrew approval, leaving me with a $1200 bill. (The same procedure was used on Hines Ward for this year's superbowl by this doctor, and it was big news). I've had it done again, with pre-approval-- then had it denied after the process-- leaving me with a bill again.
Much of this of course would go on credit cards, as surprise medical and legal (IRS battle) bills can... and my massage is never covered although it is the only thing that helps.
Because of this, I am on my feet and working... but paying out of pocket for the treatments. Insurance won't cover it, although they are still happy to cover any more MRI's and medications I would want (although they do not help).
But let's not stop there
. On the move from my former city to my current city, our current home, we actually made some money on our house sale in a down market by not being greedy and not overpricing. We paid off all
of our credit cards/medical bills, got great credit, and enough for a down payment on a house here in our new city. Given the current difficulties in the market, we never use our credit card, and found a nice house in our new town.
However, I continue to have to pay for the only procedures which help me (although they'll pay for any drugs and MRI's I get without any question)... and our new house?
Well, the loan has been re-sold 3 times since June 1st of this year (after the banks were bailed out for doing just this) in a month by the mortgagors'... Bank of America to Chase to ironically, Fannie Mae.
I say "ironically" re: Fannie Mae, as we would have liked
to have gotten our original loan with them, because a loan with them allows us to forego mortgage insurance, an additional several hundred dollars per month. But we were told we were ineligible. Yet, they were happy to end up
with the loan... and we still have to pay the extra mortgage insurance.
each one sends in notes asking for payments, saying they are the ones to get the payment and a late payment will incur a penalty-- even with good credit and wanting to make the payment to the proper people! So the banks surely have not learned a lesson. It required a lot of time on our part to determine which of the companies saying “Me ! No.. ME!” actually was due the payment.
Meanwhile, my new bank in my new hometown started a new policy of only allowing a certain number of transfers between accounts... both with reasonable sums in them... before they levy the equivalent of an overdraft fee, though neither are overdrawn or even close to being overdrawn.
And they have instituted a policy that only clears portions
of checks I deposit... even from accounts in the same bank, which caught me by surprise, causing a few overdrafts in one week when the change was made. But in the scheme of things a few hundred dollars is small, even though it all took place in the 10 days after they instituted the new policy without informing us about it. They also say this is a federal policy, using that as the reasoning. It wasn't an issue previously.
I wrote you this long note because I think your blog is both good and powerful; I feel as though things are upside down and not being remedied and I feel like we are currently living in Wonderland... or as the Red Queen said..."We're painting the roses red
(Oh, and we never ever use credit cards anymore-- zero balance-- and have changed banks and started fresh with the new one. And we enjoy our new home thoroughly.)
Hope you're well..and perhaps this capsulizes modern times in one story
A footnote... of all people, former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill (also former CEO of Alcoa) who was forced out under Bush for being rational, has started a new company
I feel is very valuable. It's sole purpose is to rank hospitals based on patient outcomes, and not on revenue, as they currently are.
Not surprisingly, the hospitals are showing reluctance to adopt his policies or work with his new company, but he may be a good person for President Obama to consult as he reaches across the aisle to the last few pragmatic Republicans.
Labels: health care