Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thinking About Health Care Reform

{how fitting for an Art Historian}

I was working on my art history research this evening...and pretty much every evening lately, but I took a break to check my email and blogs.  Kairol Rosenthal over at Everything Changes posted this great explanation of the healthcare laws that took effect in September, and it made me think about my own views about health insurance and how having cancer has changed them.

I'll be completely honest, before I was diagnosed with cancer, I never worried about health insurance.  If I had a job that offered benefits, I took whatever plan I didn't have to pay for and didn't really worry too much about the fine print.  I always figured I would never need it.  For a while, I worked only part-time and had no insurance, but didn't give it a second thought.  I have always gone to a doctor at a clinic in our neighborhood that was income based, so yearly checkups and sick visits were always available to me and I went, if needed.  I was rarely sick, had never had any major surgeries (or minor surgeries for that matter) and could never have fathomed a lung cancer diagnosis.

Less than a year before I was diagnosed with cancer, I got a job at museum that was run by the city I live in, so I became a "City Employee."  Though the job didn't pay much, it came with health insurance.  I didn't think much of it then, but I am so very lucky to have been diagnosed when I had this job.  Had I  been diagnosed only a few months earlier, I would have had no coverage.  Who knows if I would have even gone to the doctor?  If I had been diagnosed with this rare cancer with no insurance, how would I have been able to pay for the type of care I ultimately received?  Where would I have come up with the $250,000 (and counting) to pay for my surgeries, proton therapy and follow-up scans?  It's a scary and overwhelming thought, and it often leads me to wonder whether or not I would be alive today if I didn't have health insurance.

As a seemingly healthy 27-year old, health insurance wasn't a priority.  Cancer changed all of this.   I now realize how important affordable, accessible health care is for everyone.  In her book, Everything Changes, Rosenthal shares her own story and those of other young adults who were diagnosed with cancer and either had no insurance or that had to fight with their insurances to gain coverage for their medical care.  (She discusses other issues as well in both her book and on her blog, and when I was first diagnosed, her website and book were immensely helpful and continue to be a favorite resource.)

Having health insurance and access to healthcare should never be something that anyone has to worry about.  After my diagnosis, I often found myself worried about what would happen to me if I lost my job or if I decided to switch jobs or insurances.  I have the dreaded "Pre Existing Medical Condition."  My medical treatment will be life long (and being only 28-years old, I intend to be around for a long time) so I don't want to have a cap on my lifetime medical expenses.  This healthcare legislation is so important and such a giant step in the direction.

Read her blog post at Everything Changes, and if you haven't read her book, you must.

Image via Etsy  

Everything Changes

1 comment:

  1. A great post.
    Interesting and informative.
    Thank you.