I LOVE my job. I LOVE the people I work with. I figured I’d work in this particular position until I retired. MS had a different plan. I had to go part time in January. The stress – both physical and mental – had gotten to be too much for me. I can’t remember having a more gut-wrenching decision to make. Even leaving my ex-husband wasn’t this difficult! But – I was slipping. The cog fog was definately fogging up my planning and execution abilities. And I was sooooo tired when I’d get home from work, all I could do was lay in the recliner or go to bed. Not really fair to my husband and our 2 little girls. Oh – and there’s that other thing – it was making me feel worse, older, sicker, more MS’y. So – I talked to my employer and they were nice enough to work it out so I could have a 4 day weekend each week – giving me time to rest up in between my jaunts at work. I was elated that it had all worked out – until Friday – when I got a bill for an MRI I had recently. I’m covered by my husband’s health insurance and coincidentally, their coverage had changed. The MRI’s that used to be fully covered, are now, to my great surprise and dismay, only covered at 80% – and that’s after satisfying the $1000 deductible (per member). So – I now owe $1051.66 for an MRI that thankfully showed no new lesions – on my neck. Had I known about the difference in cost, I would have asked that they take a look at my brain while they were at it. This was ordered by a spine specialist due to pain in my back and neck. Now I have a whole new type of pain in my neck!!
I’ve written before about the difficulty with healthcare costs – especially here in the U.S. Thanks to this site, I’ve acquired friends from all over the world (hello world friends!) and the vast majority of them tell me a very different story when it comes to their care and the cost of their care. They don’t have to apply and wait for – agonizing over the seemingly random decision – patient assistance – because their drugs and their doctor visits, and their MRI’s, hell, even their massages – are COVERED. WHAT?? That’s right – they’re covered. And well they should be. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not provide healthcare for it’s citizens. Period.
This disease – any disease – is difficult enough to manage, much less having to navigate through a nonsensical, money-making, politician “influencing” maze like the health insurance industry. I recently had a conversation with a family member about how this country can continue to ignore what should be a basic human right. I think, like anything, until the masses push this issue to the forefront of the docket for our legislators, it’s going to take a back seat. And the masses will not push until either they or their immediate family is personally affected. Because no one who has been put through this mill could even question the legitimacy of need to restructure this entire healthcare system of ours. There is no teacher like experience. Sad but true – until more people feel this on a personal level and rise up to their representative democracy and make their representatives represent their needs and desires, there will be no change. Oh, plenty of people are feeling this – but unfortunately, they are too busy either caring for themselves or their loved ones through their own private hell to pick up a phone to call their congressman or senator. We can’t leave it to the weakest among us to work for change and “help themselves” while we sit back and reap the benefits of that change. It’s not going to happen. But what can happen is – we can go – up to Capitol Hill in Washington or to our state legislators, and speak for them. We can go to those political rallies and raise our hands with questions about their stance on healthcare. We, each one of us, has a duty to ourselves and one another to demand better representation of our views. I’ve heard too much complaining about those “jokers in Washington” and how so many have made a career of political office. We put them there. Our vote is their term limit. We simply must pay attention and make the change that we feel best reflects this country’s needs. I happen to think that’s healthcare – that we need to find those people, willing to serve, that we can put in place to make a change to our healthcare system. I’m proud of President Obama for making it a priority in his presidency and taking steps toward a better system. We’re certainly not where we need to be, but we’re much closer than we were when he took office. I’m heading to Washington next week to speak to some of our legislators about healthcare on behalf of the National MS Society, and to tell them my story. It’s not real to them – it’s a news story, a blog post, a book. I’m going to introduce them to a real person with MS. And I’m going to ask for their help – for all of us.