Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Financial side of things

As we don't yet know how much therapy I'm going to need in the future, we don't know how much of that we can afford, and how much financial gap there is. Mehmet makes the decision that whatever needs to be done, needs to be done as quickly as possible. The first 3 months are critical, and then the first six months. Somehow the pliability of the brain decreases with time, we find out. The more you can recover earlier, the better it is. Although there are exceptions this is the general wisdom. So my husband is ready to do everything, regardless of the cost, as early as possible. He says, we will figure it out later. I have no say in that. On the one hand, I am afraid that it will bring us near financial ruin, on the other hand I envision myself being speechless or talking only basics like a toddler, therefore being only a burden on my family for ever, I also opt for the former... The more we can do to help me go back to my old self as quickly as possible, the better it is. My husband also decides that we should cover this within the means of our family. We decide it is OK to get help from our parents, but nobody else. Hence, we turn down offers from friends for financial help. We have a lot of friends dispersed around the US and in Istanbul, our home city. They cannot come and be with us, provide emotional and hands on help, but they want to help never the less. The one thing they can offer is fundraising for therapy. But we say no to that and instead, we ask for information, for research, whatever they can do in terms of gathering on line knowledge. They are very happy to do this.

But this incidence makes it once more very clear that we need a universal health coverage here in the US. If we were employed in any of the European countries, we wouldn't be in this situation at all. Therapy costs would be included in insurance policies. In Germany, we find out, Stroke patients are immediately shipped out to centers of excellence, where they receive full day therapy.
This is what I have written about the need for insurance coverage, to be presented at a "Toast Masters" club meeting, 2 years after my stroke, before Barack Obama got elected.

"A case about universal health insurance

Throughout the next couple of minutes I will try to persuade you, why universal health care is a must and not, as some people think, a “nice to have” .Also, excuse me in advance for having to be a bit depressing. Health matters are always an emotionally charged subject.

I want to take you to the year 2050, for a quick peek into the future:

Well, in this future there is no universal health care. On the contrary, Medicare and Medicaid also have been eliminated. The government is very small. Every service government used to provide, has been privatized, and running for profit…

So, in this future there is no public education. If parents want education for their kids, they have to teach the kids themselves, or they have to pay 20 000 $ a year for a private institution.

There is no public police force. So that if you are a victim of a crime, the first thing the police asks you is your crime-insurance card. No crime-insurance no police prosecution.

There is no fire department either. You have to have fire-insurance before you call the fire department.

The list goes on and on. For everyday activities like infrastructure, people have to pay as they use it for example roads or bridges. For more risky services like police or fire, people buy insurance. Rich people thrive, the poor are on the streets, uneducated and sick…

That is one scenario. It is a conservative-capitalist dream scenario maybe. But there is another scenario, a more altruistic scenario, where the more fortunate among us give back to the less fortunate. Especially when human life is concerned.

So, what does it to do with universal health insurance? EVERYTHING!

I assure you, that every one of us in this room, however inconceivable it may seem, is going to die sooner or later. Death and taxes are inevitable. But the problem is how to do that, and not leave a terrible financial and emotional burden behind. Because with the current system this is what’s happening.

Sooner or later most of us is going to face a major and expensive disease:
1- Cancer: We are going to have cancer, it is not a matter of “if”, it is a matter of “when”. One in two men and one in three women get cancer over their lifetime.
2- Cardio Vascular Diseases: 1 in 3 of Americans have some sort of CVD, as a result of which you may have bypass surgery or stroke related rehab.
When we get an expensive disease the options are: go bankrupt, or not receive the necessary treatment.
The #1 reason for bankruptcy in America, responsible for more than half of bankruptcies filed nation-wide, happens to be ill or failing health.

Let’s take my case: The mean lifetime cost of ischemic stroke in the United States is estimated at $140 048. To Medicare, the negotiated costs that is. Plus it only contains a limited number of rehab visits, or limited mental health coverage, when you are depressed. Just my speech therapy in 2006 alone cost $30 000.

Let’s take early stage breast cancer for instance: nine months of treatment: No hospitalization involved: $225 000

1) Not everyone has health insurance: Data released by the Census Bureau show that the number of uninsured Americans stood at a record 46.6 million in 2005, with 15.9 percent of Americans lacking health coverage.
2) Among the insured many claims are denied. In 2003 one whistleblower in Humana testified that officers get higher bonuses when they deny claims.

There must be a better way! US of A is the richest nation on earth. A behemoth. The others don’t even come close to our GDP. If we cannot provide for our sick, it is a shame. There shouldn't’t be a price tag on human life.
We have done it with education, with police, with fire, with infrastructure, with the army…. For this nation, whatever we set our hearts and minds into there is no escape, we do it.
This election year, we have a chance. Whoever you favorite candidate, McCain, Obama, Clinton… Push for it, the power is in your hands. .. "

1 comment:

oostar said...

My husband's insurance does not cover speech therapy for stroke victims. Only for minors with autism or a cleft pallet. It was a shocking discovery. He is a government attorney! Would you rather have him sitting home collecting disability than pay for his therapy?! So we're paying for his therapy while I'm waiting for an official denial of our claim so I can do an appeal for medical necessity. They're really dragging out the denial for something that should have taken 2 minutes because the policy doesn't cover it. They said it would take 7-10 days unless it was urgent. I told them it was urgent! It's now been 12 days. I think they're hoping I give up and if they take so long to do the denial, I won't appeal.