Matthew Holt

Why health insurance reform really matters

Just occasionally we get a really heartfelt comment on THCB that is passionate and rational, and reminds us why for all the bile spewed about the topic the essential part of the health care bill—making insurance available to everyone—is really important. This comment from CF Mother was left on my post “Thinking the unthinkable” on Friday. And of course, this could happen to anyone—including you. And frankly the Democrats need to do a better job explaining this—Matthew Holt

Questions for those who do not support health care reform:

Twenty years ago our cheery toddler was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Afraid, we dug into the medical research to understand the disease that threatened his future. We healed through optimism, roused by the news eight days after his diagnosis that the gene that causes CF had been found, opening the door toward a cure. We knew that our heroes, the researchers and his doctors, would continue to find ways to protect his future. We were no longer afraid of CF.

The fear that woke me in the night was of losing our health insurance because our son was on every insurer’s no-fly list. While my husband’s profession was periodically roiled by layoffs, he decided against the security of opening his own firm because the cost of carrying coverage for our eldest son was too high, the thread on which his health care dangled too slight.

With luck, we made it through our son’s childhood without a gap in coverage. Now 22, he’s kept his health thanks to his medical care and his own glorious determination not to allow CF to cramp his style. He earned his black belt, went to college, joined a fraternity, and drives a 1961 Buick LeSabre. He spent a year in China, learned Mandarin, and discovered that even the drug that enables CF patients to digest food couldn’t help him digest raw sea cucumber. He backpacked through Thailand, had his wallet and passport stolen, but managed to hang on to his meds. This spring he will graduate with a degree in chemical engineering from UMass Amherst’s honors college, with a concentration in biochemistry. His resume includes summers researching the transmembrane conductance regulator, the protein channel in our cells that, when malformed, causes cystic fibrosis.

We can’t wait to see what this kid is going to do next. Next, however, has filled me with that old middle-of-the night fear. Our son will age off our family policy in April. He must shape his future not according to his dreams and ability, but in ways that will ensure that he keeps his health insurance. He must find an employer with health benefits that will hire a new college graduate in a poor economy. Or he must extend his full-time student status until he’s 25, putting off career plans and his desire to support himself. Despite his wanderlust and world-wide opportunities, he must remain a resident of Massachusetts, an isolated island where CF patients are not pariahs to health insurance companies.

I tell our story not because it is unique. Other families have been harmed, rather than merely threatened, by the ruthlessness of American health insurance. I tell it to ask a question. It is for you, the person reading this who does not wish the current effort to reform health care to succeed, who calls it “Obamacare” and “socialized medicine”. Help me understand your position, because I am mystified.

Are you a parent? Do you know that the bill under debate will prevent insurers from dumping people with pre-existing conditions, like my son or, perhaps, someone in your family? Do you believe that anyone who needs health care can get it somehow, or that illness happens only to other families?

Are you a fiscal conservative concerned about cost? Do you realize that the current system discourages small business development and blocks young adults’ opportunities to succeed, the foundations of a growing economy? Do you believe access to health care is not as essential as access to education in preparing our next generation of skilled workers?

Are you are an insurance executive? Do you devise new ways to make it difficult for my son to obtain prescriptions and services as cost-saving measures? Would you prefer to cover the cost of his lung transplant, because he has not been able to get the treatments he needs to stay healthy? Or have you decided that the ultimate cost-saving measure is to let CF patients and other chronic burdens to your bottom line die young?

Help me understand why, rather than reforming the American health insurance system, we should turn our backs on my son and the promise he and other young Americans like him offer all of us.

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Thomas MccruddenCCsarahChristineWithRegenceAIM Health Insurance Recent comment authors
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Thomas Mccrudden
Guest

As a good Newbie, I am always glad to find posts to help me Thank you

CC
Guest
CC

I am appalled at the post by Nate. The CF mom isn’t asking for a handout here. I too have a child diagnosed with CF at the age of 18. One prescription alone cost $1,200.00 a month. This medication will be needed by my daughter for the rest of her life. Who can afford that amount? I know that I can’t and as a full time college student she is unable to work enough hours to afford the medication herself. The issue here isn’t the fact that anyone is looking for a handout…the issue is the high cost of health… Read more »

sarah
Guest
sarah

This is so American, talking of humans that might possibly die without healthcare, as a price tag. Out of all the developed countries, this might be the most religious country. Yet so selfish and only concerned about money. How funny the irony is. Especially Nate who left a comment where he said he is scared people will take advantage of the system, and not paying for insurance until they get sick. This is the core of the right winged mentality; there is always a fear of some evil creature lurking around the corner, waiting to take everything you have. Wake… Read more »

ChristineWithRegence
Guest
ChristineWithRegence

This video makes you wonder about the strangeness of our health care system:
http://www.whatstherealcost.org/45secondstoshare

AIM Health Insurance
Guest

Nate,
The HIPPA laws you refer to apply to HIPPA compliant (mostly group) insurance policies.
Your creditable coverage in no way guarantees your approval for an privite major med policy. Neither does in waive your pre existing condition period (normally 12 months). In fact, most privite major med policies do not honor your creditable coverage.

Nate
Guest
Nate

nl, versus those mothers who freely admit their kids have no potential and should be garbage men? The mothers of all the gardeners and labors in this country when did they know their kids would never amount to anything meaningful like a biochemist or cultural link and thus aren’t worthy of CF mother’s kid’s special privilages? What if her kid ends up q failure or normal and never does anything meaningful will we get a refund? What CF Mother and the rest of you are asking for is myself and others to subsidize them so they don’t need to worry… Read more »

nl
Guest
nl

Any kid with a degree in biochemistry who speaks fluent chinese is not asking for sympathy or a handout, and is not going chasing bands on the public dole. The mom’s point–and it’s not a sob story–is that the young man has got a lot of potential to be a real contributor, but his chance to succeed is limited by his need to not risk losing his health insurance because he can’t get it back that easily. He can’t work for a start up and invent a new biofuel for the rest of us. He can’t live in China and… Read more »

archon41
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archon41

anyone recall the saga of the “Little Mother” floated during the Great War? A little mawkish, perhaps, but a remarkably effective recruiting tool. So we need someone to fund for the young fellow under discussion a broad policy of insurance of the type typically provided by employers to employees. And just who might that “someone” be? The insurers? And they are not going to pass this expense to the rest of us? And what the many millions (including those covered by Medicare) who do not enjoy such broad coverage? Well, you’ve driven me into a corner here, and I see… Read more »

Carl Chapman
Guest
Carl Chapman

To Lynn, Paolo, and anyone else out there who sympathizes with the hijacking of the American healthcare system. For decades Congress has had the opportunity to control healthcare – who gets it and who doesn’t – through legislation. It’s legislation that requires emergency rooms to take patients no matter what their ability to pay. It’s legislation that enables employees via COBRA to take their health benefits with them when they are laid off. It’s legislation that tells companies that executives cannot have a better plan than their subordinates. It’s legislation that sets coverage levels, the ability to model pre-existing conditions… Read more »

Nate
Guest
Nate

jlg I see you don’t know anything about insurance and just regurgatate the crap your feed. Not sure what they based this on but it doesn’t appear to include non state sponsored plans. i.e. in Nevada the local chamber sponsors a guarantee issue plan for small businesses. In Ohio they have health something pools sponsored by an organization with another primary purpose like a chamber that is exempt from premium tax. There are all sorts of options out there, proof that we don’t need government to solve this we just need government out of the way. Paolo her son is… Read more »

Robert
Guest

“Just occasionally we get a really heartfelt comment on THCB that is passionate and rational, and reminds us why for all the bile spewed about the topic the essential part of the health care bill”
I would argue that we get those more than “occasionally”…

jlg
Guest
jlg

Nate,
Please. Ignorance and lies?
“Almost every state has guarantee issue community rated plans as well”
11 of 50
http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=351&cat=7

Paolo
Guest
Paolo

Kim, your post is right on.
The taxpayer should help provide a basic and humane level of care to all those in need along with strict supervision to ensure that the money is spent wisely. Then, people who can afford more can spend as much as they want on health care as long as it’s with their own money.
Instead, we have a system where some groups of people get unlimited amounts of wasteful care (and feel entitled to it) at the expense of others (usually the taxpayer), while others get almost no care at all.

Greg
Guest
Greg

Nate
You really need a Valium!

Paolo
Guest
Paolo

** Nate said: “Since HIPAA passes as long as you don’t have a 60+ day gap in coverage you are guaranteed the ability to buy insurance. Your entire BS sob story doesn’t hold water.” Not true. HIPAA only provides portability when moving to/from group insurance. HIPAA does not provide portability between individual policies. If you are chronically ill and your individual policy raises premiums (or treats you poorly), you are stuck with it, forever. No federal law helps you transition to another insurer. Of course, you could get a job that provides health care, or you could get a job… Read more »