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Posted on 4. February 2011

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

By Tammie Allegro

There has been a lot of talk about making health insurance mandatory and charging a fee for those who don’t carry it. And there are arguments to be made on both sides of the fence. So many people go through life thinking how things will directly affect them and their inner circle. Yet, very few people view life with an understanding for the other guy.

One of the controversial issues of healthcare reform is the provision that makes purchasing health insurance mandatory for all Americans, with fines for those who do not comply. Many bristle at the idea of being forced by the government to buy health insurance if they feel they don’t need it or simply don’t want it. But the simple fact is that premiums from healthy individuals help to offset costs for the chronically sick.

In a day and age when life has been made PC to the point of absurdity, people take this issue of “brother’s keeper” very seriously. It is easy for someone to ignore the issues facing another person, as long as it doesn’t affect them directly. Long gone are the days of taking time to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. In my opinion, that is the primary reason why this potential law has so many people aflutter.

On one hand, there is the healthy single man who only really needs preventative care, if he ever uses that part of his coverage.  Why should he have to pay for insurance for something that might never happen? He will probably never get sick enough to really need that insurance, but his premiums offset care for those who frequently get sick.

Then, there is the family of four. One parent and one child are both chronically ill. They cannot get good coverage with low deductibles because the system isn’t balanced. Why should their child go without much-needed care just because some don’t want to pay for insurance they may never need?  

Many states, including the state that I live in, have mandatory car insurance requirements. In addition, it requires fire and flood insurance on homes, as well as life insurance. There are two reasons why people pay for insurance. One reason is the “What if” scenario: “What if my house burns down?” “What if my spouse passes away?” The second reason is because it levels the cost for everyone paying in. If every person who was using the medical industry paid for insurance, the premiums and coverage would improve tenfold.

We live in a free country, but that freedom isn’t free. There are costs associated with everything we do and everything we have. Can one really put a price tag on the value of saving one life? My uncle was recently diagnosed with cancer. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he doesn’t have insurance. It has been so hard to watch him not get the care he deserves as a human being just because he is “uninsured.” He has worked his whole life and has always had insurance. But, now when he really needs it, the insurance isn’t there.

As a chronically ill person, what do you think about mandatory health insurance coverage? Do you feel like it only makes things fair? Or do you feel guilty for needing the assistance in the first place? Is there a better answer to our current healthcare situation?

Categories: Need to Know

Comments (8) -

mark in cleveland
9:38 AM on Friday, February 04, 2011

We are a family with three CVID patients.

There is no question Obamacare contains crucial benefits for our community; guaranteed insurability, without regard for preexisting conditions;  elimination of lifetime caps; coverage of children until age 26; supposed state pools for the uninsurable to name a few.

If we could just have that and no more it would have been a miracle.

However, I believe that the bill also contained measures that will greatly reduce the quality of our overall health system. To think it is possible to add 30,000,000 new individuals without increasing cost is ridiculous. To think that the measures in the bill will not radically reduce innovation; new drugs, research and procedures, is totally naive.

I believe the bill is a godsend for the uninsured and underinsured, while it will greatly reduce the quality of care for the 80% who have employer plans or Medicare / Medicaid. For those of us who have excellent employer plans there are a lot of negatives.

The bottom line is how we view Obamacare depends on how we look at the role of our society. Is it more important to cover the 5% of people who have been abused by the system or is it more important to create the finest medical system in the world for the 80% who currently have it good.

That personal decision will govern how one looks at Obamacare.

Of course I am very biased because we are a family with a life long, chronic, very expensive disease.  I know how I view the role of society. But it should be obvious to all of us that the majority of our society does not have our bias.

In any event it is the law of the land and I doubt we can ever go back.

nynah mason
3:18 PM on Friday, February 04, 2011

     Wanting healthcare to be available to everyone has been my desire for about 48 years.  If we, as a society, can provide an interstate highway system, a federal defense system, underwrite millionaire farming conglomerates, incarcerate more people than other free countries(and at a higher per capita cost than sending them to Harvard), provide a public school system, put humans on the moon and in space, send telescopes into deep space, bankroll scientific endeavors of questionable need and merit, export healthcare to third world countries, squander unimaginable sums of money on poitical campaigns, and bail out the robber barons of wall street the reality is we simply lack the moral fiber to take care of our people.
    Insurance companies are parasites that prey on our fears and discard us if our fears materialize. I have always believed that if you subtract the for profit insurance companies from the equation and tally up the money it can be done and done well.  Other countries have been doing it for quite some time and doing it well. Are we willing to admit we lack the desire, will and ingenuity to do this?
     I'd rather give my money directly to Medicare and enjoy the security of knowing they won't drop me because I'm sick.  Thank you, Medicare.

PS: One artice I read stated that 50% of us are on some  government based program NOW.
                                Love and Blessings, Nynah

susan watkins
3:35 PM on Friday, February 04, 2011

Not so fast.  It is not yet the 'law of the land'.  2 judges have found it to be unconstitutional and currently in contempt of court.  Our constitution cannot mandate or force people to buy something they may not want.  I believe that ObamaCare will be dismantled and picked apart.  It's a shame that things were done in such haste.  A large majority of Americans do not want this in its current form and I believe there is nothing but trouble ahead of us now.

I am quite sure that there is a better answer for our current health system, I just don't know what it is.  I can barely consider it as I am blinded with guilt by my own enormous consumption of health dollars.  CVID is so incredibly expensive.  I am embarrased by how much it costs to keep me alive and allow me to live a life.  The numbers are breath taking and I can't help but feel unworthy of so much.  I think to myself, well, at least I was diagnosed later in life so that's a little less.  But, then I think of how much was spent getting to that diagnosis.. well, I am humbled.  

nynah mason
4:56 PM on Friday, February 04, 2011

I,too, suffer from guilt about the cost involved with keeping me alive and well. One small comfort is knowing there was nothing in my "lifestyle" that caused it.  (I did not drink, smoke or use drugs.)  However I do wonder if the CEO of XXX insurance company experienced any feelings of guilt related to the $22 million dollar bonus he received a couple of years ago. I wonder how many people like us he figuratively kicked to the curb?  As to being forced to buy something one does not want, we are all indirectly forced to buy things we do not want.  For instance I've never wanted an atomic bomb or aircraft carrier but my tax money has contributed to both.  At least if people are forced to contribute to health care they have the option to partake of the health care system.  Is it what we, as patients, need in it's present form?  It was crafted by poiticians who have a generous heathcare package.  The solution is simple: we shoud have what they have...or vice versa.  Either we all get the healthcare package they have or we take theirs away from them.  We are all created equal.  Many of them think they are more equal and that's part of the problem.  I'd rather not give my money to a money grubbing insurance company whose true goal is to insure that they make obscene profits.

mark levethal
8:14 PM on Friday, February 04, 2011

So i guess from your comment that you think the alternative the republicans have offered over the past 10 years is better for our community. Do you prefer that we leave the system as it is; lifetime caps, denials for preexisting conditions and 15% of the population uninsured? I am a lifetime Republican who believes my first responsibility is to my children who both have a PIdd. The bottom line is the Republicans offered nothing. Obamacare has many many warts and major major problems, but it offers protection to my kids, something the Republicans ignored for the past 10 years, many of them when they were in power. They had the opportunity, but ignored our problem. Sadly Obamacare will reduce the quality of medical care for the entire country, but this is personal. For my kids it is the only protedtion offered.

Donna Hiebert
5:18 AM on Monday, February 07, 2011

KNOWING I COULD NOT BE DENIED COVERAGE BECAUSE OF MY CONDITION IS VERY APPEALING TO ME.  I have a chronic illness and go to a job I hate everyday to keep my insurance coverage.  I am a reality of this current system.  I do not believe I can leave the job because who will insure me now knowing I have a chronic illness.  I will be 59 this month and know I will never be able to retire because my treatment would not be covered by the current system because it is not a recognized treatment for Myasthenia Gravis.  The IVIG treatments have given me back my life.  With the current co-pays and deductables every year I work just to stay alive and nothing more.   I can not even remember what my life was like when I worked and the fruits of that work gave me something that added to my life.  Now the fruits of that work only afford me a life and never anything more.  Chronically ill people are American citizens also and should not have our dreams taken away just because of our illnesses.  These are a few of the frustrations we Chronically ill people face every day.  

Nynah Mason
8:54 AM on Friday, June 08, 2012

The US is just about the only Western country lacking a national healthcare system.  We pay more for healthcare and get less for our money.  If one were to calculate all the money spent directly and indirectly on healthcare the sum would be mind boggling.  But the funds could be used more efficiently and in. a way that everyone could be covered.  Among other tactics
countries with univetsal coverage have the leverage to bargain with providers of medications and equiptment.  Here they dictate what we must pay.  But I want to bring this to a very personal level: My brother was poor and uninsured.  He wouldn't go to the doctor because he couldn't pay and their limited funds were needed for scraping by.  The coroner stated that his death was due to congestive heart failure.  He could have been helped.  He was only 35has years old.  Ehile his death certificate read the cause of death was "congestuve heart failure" it should have read, "lack of insurance".  If we can fight wars around the globe and put a man on the moon why can we not provide healthcare for all American citizens?  The insurance companies can pay multimillion dollar bonuses to their CEOs while denying services to policy holders.  What is wrong with our country, our priorities?

9:53 AM on Friday, June 08, 2012

We are a family of 6 and each of us has one or more disabling chronic diseases.  Only 4 of us currently have insurance (Thanks in part to Obama's law) and we are much better off than the 2 who do not.  None of us asked to be sick or chose it in any way.  If the US doesn't do something to equalize the benefits available part of my family suffers needlessly and dies earlier.  How is that like anything but "third world country?"  Obamacare may be very troubled, but it is a Godsend to my middle daughter who had nothing until it came.  We can barely afford medications and food.  Something has to give for those of us who are stuck in the chronically ill boat or else why not just shoot us all and put us out of misery?  That is what life without treatment amounts to.

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