START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
1,454,513 people care about Health Policy

The Savage Arithmetic of the Pre-Existing Condition

The Savage Arithmetic of the Pre-Existing Condition

 

Written by William Rivers Pitt

Five years ago, my wife and I took what turned out to be the longest walk in the world to Brigham & Women’s hospital in Boston to get a diagnosis for her that had been six months in the making. She was 25 years old, and her right arm had gone sideways on her over the last nine months with a collection of symptoms – numbness, tingling, and tremors of such severity that her good hand was all but useless for anything besides waving at friends – that we had run out of explanations for. Nerve damage? Carpal tunnel? We didn’t know. She had gotten an MRI two days earlier, and the doctor had called that day asking us to come down and talk about it. The conversation began with, “You have multiple sclerosis,” and that has been our undeniable reality ever since.

Multiple sclerosis, for those not in the know, is a disease in which the body’s own immune system goes to war against its own brain. My wife suffered her symptoms because the disease gnawed through the myelin sheaths of her own higher nervous system and annihilated the nerves that control her right arm. Over the intervening years, her brain has taken it upon itself to figure out some good work-arounds – to wit, when the road collapses, you build an overpass – but her hand will never again have the same functionality (until stem cell research bears fruit, fingers crossed).

I give her an injection every day to control the disease, and she takes a variety of other drugs to manage the symptoms. All told, multiple sclerosis – between the doctor visits, the MRIs, and the drugs required to keep a lid on things – costs upwards of $50,000 a year. Thankfully, she is gainfully employed with a major retail company with a stellar insurance program, so a large portion of that cost is defrayed by the insurance she pays for with every paycheck.

Without that insurance, she would be at the mercy of those who think pre-existing conditions are basically God’s funny joke on people, i.e., ha ha ha, you’re screwed.

She is not alone. I went to the doctor last month, and found out that I have pretty damned high blood pressure. The doctor had me come back four weeks later to do another check, and, yup, really really high blood pressure. I am now on two different drugs to bring it down to a manageable level, drugs that I am going to be on until they wind me in my shroud. I am on my wife’s insurance, so again, the cost of those drugs is manageable, but mine is now a house filled with pre-existing conditions.

What if she gets fired, or the company goes belly-up? She is incredibly good at what she does, which means some other company may try someday to tempt her away…until they hear about her pre-existing condition, and mine, and how much insurance coverage for those conditions will cost thanks to our truly insane for-profit health industry. If my wife leaves her company for any reason – especially if/when Scalia and his merry band of ridiculous fascists decide to curb-stomp Obama’s health care law – we are both well and truly screwed. It’s like Ayn Rand herself was allowed to draft the rules for getting sick in America.

But that’s me and my wife.

Here’s you.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 81,000,000 people in America suffer from one or more forms of cardiovascular disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 11,000,000 people in America currently suffer from some form of cancer.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million people in America currently suffer from diabetes, and the Center for Disease Control has estimated as many as half of all Americans will suffer from the disease by the year 2050, thanks to our deplorable dietary habits.

According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed in America each year.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, some 400,000 Americans currently suffer from MS.

That’s a pretty substantial portion of the population, with more being diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and MS every day.

Do the math.

It’s you, too.

Hundreds of millions of people in this country are sick at this moment, or will be sick tomorrow, the next day, or somewhere down the line. The numbers are spinning like the fare meter on a New York City taxi cab, ever higher every day. If you’re not sick, you will be one of these days: bank on it…and in the meantime, at least one person you know is in that tribe.

That’s fact.

We’re enveloped in a national debate about insurance mandates and the political leanings of nine Supreme Court Justices. That’s all well and good, but entirely beside the point.

A nation that does not care for its sick and infirm is a nation that does not deserve to exist. A nation that actively profits from the pain and suffering of those sick and infirm deserves to burn in Hell. A nation that throws those sick and infirm to the wolves is so far beneath contempt as to beggar description.

Two years ago, Republican Mike Huckabee compared people with pre-existing conditions to houses that have already burned down. Just the other day on the Leno show, likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney voiced a very similar opinion.
They both have awesome health insurance.

Do you? Forever?

One of these days, you are going to have a pre-existing condition.

Hope for the best, but expect the worst. “The worst” is exactly where we are headed, if matters continue as they have.

Straightforward stuff, folks.

Think it over, while you can.

We’re on borrowed time, after all.

How are you feeling today?

This post was originally published by Truthout.

 

Related Stories:

House Passes Ryan Budget, Calls It “Vision” of GOP In Charge

When Did America Give Up?

Team Obama Finally Embraces ‘Obamacare’

 

Read more: , , , ,

Photo from Thinkstock

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

78 comments

+ add your own
10:23PM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

The Obama plan will, if SCOTUS lets it.

9:17AM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

I WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT THE OBAMA HEALTH CARE PLAN DID AWAY WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS. THIS WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST SELLING POINTS TO GETM THE BILL M THROUGH CONGRESS. WHAT HAPPANED TO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALSO WHY WOULD ANYONE IN CONGRESS WANT ANY CHANGES IN HEALTHCARE, THEY HAVE EXCELLENT HEALTHCARE AND WILL KEEP IT FOR LIFE AS LONG AS THEY SERVE ONE TERM IN CONGRESS.

MY OPINION IS THAT ALL OF THE INSRANCE COMPANIES SHOULD BE FORCED TO OFFER THE SAME HEALTHCARE BENEFITS AS ANY SENATOR OR CONGRESSMAN FOR LIFE. I ADMIT I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE STAFF OF THE SENATORS OR CONGRESSMAN RECEIVE, BUT I WOULD GUESS CLOSE TO THE SAME BENIFITS

1:25PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

I have a pre-existing condition & haven't had insurance for 2 1/2 years, since my husband was laid-off. We both are working now, but no insurance has been offered in either job. I have been denied insurance, & my husband, who is very healthy but over 50 has been offered very bad insurance for a very high price. Even the Federal Government insurance is beyond our means, with high costs, high deductibles and covering only 80% after paying $600 a month with a $2,500 deductible. My out of pocket expenses to my doctor for my condition are currently less per year than the one month premium charge! I would be out of my mind to deprive my family for the sake of having insurance that is really like no insurance at all. I would very much be behind a one payer system.

12:38PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Ann C., that is doable. I live in the State of Washington which has done exactly that. The
pre-existing condition clause has been illegalised.

I was born with a defective heart valve which would make me uninsurable from birth. Perhaps the insurance companies agree with the Spartans who put less than perfect babies on the hillside to die of exposure

12:16PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

I BELIEVE THAT INSURANCE COMPANIES A ROBBING THE CITIZENS OF THE US. THEY HAVE A MONOPLY ON WHAT INSURANCE YOU CAN BUY DEPENDING ON THE STATE OR COMPANY YOU WORK FOR. THE PRE-EXISTING CONDITION CLAUSE IS THEIR BEST WAY OF ROBBING THE PUBLIC.

EVEN IF OBAMA CARE IS STRUCK DOWN BY THE SUPREME COURT, WHICH I AGREE IT SHOULD BECAUSE FORCING EVERYONE TO BUY INSURANCE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THE PLAN.

THERE ARE STATE INSURANCE BOARDS IN EVERY STATE THAT CAN PASS RULES GOVERNING INSURANCE, WHY DONT WE USE THEM.

3:17PM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

I too have a preexisting condition. It's not just health insurance that affected, but life and long term care insurance as well.

But that's not my only point. Examine the Explanation of Benefits your health insurance provider supplies. Look at the charges and payments. What you will see is that the providers charge twice as much as the insurance pays. This is consistent whether it is the doctor, the pharmacy, or the laboratory. What we have here is a massive price fixing scheme designed to drive patients into insurance.

It makes the mafia look like a bunch of amateurs. And it is illegal.

4:26PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

Noted!

3:10AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

Pre-exsisting conditions have been problems for long as I can recall, really no change. If you have cancer a new insurer might not cover and we all have seen this.

11:12PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Sad truth is insurance companies play fast and loose with promises of insurance when in fact they have a cornucopia of excuses they can resort to in order NOT to pay, and that the very nature of the pre-existing conditions is in fact an inherent characteristic of what it is to be human... that is, to be mortal; and all that are associated with being mortal, is the pre-existing propensity to have any pre-existing condition that could be listed as an excuse to NOT pay out at all. It is a SCAM.
OHHHH, I'm sorry, but your family has a pre-existing condition you FAILED to mention specifically, that they were mortal, and died!!! (actual cause makes for a nice 'cover'; even though the specifics of the cause of death is really irrelevant, because it works for any cause).

3:03PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Although there is a lot of truth in the article, I was very turn off by the tone. It was a total negative tone. He would have made a better inpact on the likes of me, if he had given his story, with facts and some positive possible solutions that we all can work for. I'll give you one vote out of office every Republican you can.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free
CONTACT THE EDITORS

Recent Comments from Causes

Good for Teresa Lambert, hosting a radio show which helps women military vets, obviously needed.

You GO! ..New York :)

AMAZING! I am so glad it was shared.

meet our writers

Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.