Imagine that you have spent most of your life in one job. Now, imagine that you lose your job tomorrow. Along with losing the security of a steady paycheck and retirement benefits, you lose your health insurance coverage as well. No matter where you are perched on the political fence, the lack of affordable health insurance in the United States is a serious problem.
According to Infoplease, 14.2% of Maryland residents had no health insurance in the year 2004-2005. The lack of affordable health insurance in the United States is a serious problem which affects all of us. I know about the serious problems that result from the lack of health insurance, because I am writing from experience.
Since taking over my Grandfather’s business in the early nineties, my Dad has been a self-employed office furniture dealer. Like many other self-employed people, Dad could not afford to carry me on his company’s health insurance policy. The expensive insurance premiums which Dad would have paid to carry me on his company’s insurance policy were mostly due to my having a physical disability. Since I have Cerebral Palsy, a preexisting condition, carrying me on his health insurance was a very expensive proposition. At the time Dad took over the business, my family could not afford to carry me on his company’s health insurance policy.
As a result, I was without health insurance for seven years. During this time, I discovered many and obstacles to receiving quality health care. This is especially true when you are a consumer with significant medical needs. For any medical issues related to my orthopedic needs resulting from Cerebral Palsy, I received medical care at two different free clinics. One of the clinics was located in my area. God wired me to be an optimistic woman. As you can imagine, I expected to receive excellent care, at least from the clinic in my area. I was both surprised and disappointed in the substandard care I received at both clinics.
It is certainly not encouraging for anyone to be treated as an object and not a wonderfully God-created human being. However, I am saddened and dismayed to report that this was my experience with the no-cost options for my health care. I am blessed to be a bright, articulate and intelligent lady. Unfortunately, I was not treated like an intelligent lady by either of the two doctors who provided me care at both of the clinics. Looking back, I now realize that I was treated more like an object than an articulate woman who has thoughts, feelings and viewpoints that matter.
The only reason that I even consulted with clinic doctors was due to the fact that I was experiencing a very serious and painful medical situation related to my disability. After almost fifteen years of efforts to keep my right hip in the socket
using several forms of physical therapy, I learned the very painful lesson that our bodies don’t always agree with the desires of our hearts. My hip went out of socket in January, 1994. In retrospect, I had years of warning about my hip, but the doctor was a difficult and arrogant man. This particular doctor remains very well-known for how he performs surgery. However, the fact that this doctor lacked warmth and sensitivity and had the bedside manner of a tree stump was a major red flag to me. Although this doctor originally diagnosed my right hip as going out of socket in May, 1993, I chose not to authorize him to operate on me. At the time, this was the best decision because our doctor-patient rapport was not the best. We were socially acceptable, but we really didn’t get along at all.
The longer that my family and I searched for a knowledgeable, trustworthy and caring doctor, the more intolerable my pain became. Eventually, my pain reached the point where my only comfortable position was complete bed rest. If you have ever traveled to another country, then you can probably appreciate how fantastically blessed we are to be living in the United States of America. Ironically, as wealthy as our country is, there still exist horrible differences in the treatment of the people who have health insurance and those who do not. As both an American and a patient, I am saddened and angered to share that this is the unacceptable reality of our current healthcare system.
Physically, I knew that I could not take the pain much longer. Imagine that someone is constantly sticking your leg with hot, prickly, pins for over seven years. It is excruciating! That is how I felt all the time. I knew I needed major surgery to be comfortable again and have any chance of regaining my ability to function in my daily life. So that I would receive much needed health insurance for an operation which I seriously needed, my mom went to work part-time as an Attendance Secretary for the largest school system in our state.
A month before my senior year of high school, I underwent hip relocation surgery. I was in a full body cast for three months during the hottest time of the year! My recovery, which was originally expected to only last six weeks, in reality lasted three and a half years. As a result, I underwent many hours and forms of intense physical therapy. When you are sixteen, you don’t always appreciate the end goal. During this time, I did not understand why I still hurt, or why my therapist Cara was motivating me with music to work until I screamed and cried. Looking back now, I love Cara very much for her dedication, encouragement and commitment to me and my healing process. I knew that my healing process was in the Lord’s control and timing all along!
I am so incredibly thankful, both for the improvement and return to normalcy of my health, and God’s abundant blessings in each new day. Sadly, the lack of affordable health insurance remains a serious problem for many Americans. In my opinion, this is pathetic and unacceptable. We are in a healthcare crisis in the United States and are in serious need of a national health insurance policy. As both a patient who receives healthcare on a continuing basis and a tax-paying citizen, I hope and pray that the important issue of establishing a national health insurance program is addressed by our next President.