Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No One is Asking for a Handout, Just a Hand

It's time to revisit the cause in light of the inevitable attack on the Health Insurance Rights (yes, that how I will refer to it because that is what this really is, no one gave us socialist healthcare benefits as the looneys would like you to believe) we all had fought so long for. This issue is so important and complex its difficult to know where to start. So in the interest of time and in effort to help put a face on it, I am going to tell you a story, not a fairytale.

There is a couple in Orange County, who on the outset of their marriage had well paying jobs with medical benefits. They bought a house, (one that they could afford with a 30 year fixed rate) they were about to have a baby, and life was pretty good.

Shorty before their new baby's first birthday the man got sick. As it turned out, at the age of 29 he was put on a dialysis and on the waiting list for a new kidney. After 9 months of dialysis, numerous appointments with various doctors and testing of potential donors, he received a kidney transplant. There were many medical bumps on the road to recovery but he returned to work with his health much improved.

Unfortunately, immunosuppression is required to keep the body from rejecting the new kidney, in turn one is left susceptible to infection. Colds turn into a visit to the emergency room and every sinus infection has deadly potential. Amazingly, this man was able to continue working since he had a home office and he had great insurance. It was not easy but it wasn't impossible.

Despite his illness, he enjoyed 11 years as a top salesman for Gillette. Unfortunately, his new boss informed him that his career was over. Devastating news to be sure, for there had been much personal sacrifice on his part to achieve the success for which he had worked so hard.

It was time to move on. He secured a job with Schick and within the first nine 9 months he was the only sales person making his numbers. Everything was great, he received a good review with an increase in salary. Pfizer decided to buy Schick and they gave large cash payments to all the employees that they wanted to keep, not everyone got them, but he was happy to one of the chosen few to get one of these checks.

As soon as Schick found out he was sick, his performance appraisals began to tell a new story. He had to go on medical leave for a second kidney transplant and upon his return, the harassment towards him began and his family worried that the stress of it would have devastating effects on his health.

Also, the 25 year old who unselfishly donated one of her kidneys to the man was unable to acquire any health insurance for herself due to the fact that she just saved someone's life.

Schick changed insurance companies and all of his prescriptions had to be paid out of pocket and then wait for reimbursement. The out of pocket cost for a transplant patient is well over $2000 per month.

He was fired after 4 short years with Schick. COBRA benefits for the family cost them well over $1000 per month, so they dropped the wife and the children from the policy and they had to go without any coverage.

With his wife also out of work and now with 2 children, they had to live off of their retirement savings. As you may or may not know, the IRS frowns upon that. It took two years for the man to find another job, and the wife had found work as well. And then, the IRS came calling and payment required to keep them happy made it impossible for the family to cover their tax bill and their astronomical medical expenses. The children were pulled out of private school and they struggled to make ends meet. Their entire savings and retirement funds were wiped out.

Soon his wife was laid off and they were unsuccessful in securing a loan modification for their home due the loan being sold by Indy Mac to a group of investors who had no intention of working with the couple to keep their home.

In the wake of the nation's economic disaster, the man was laid off. There was some relief from COBRA benefits as the Obama Administration made changes that drastically reduced their monthly payments for a short time.

The investors decided to auction the home so the couple had no choice but to sell it for well below market value.

The couple was thrilled when the New Health Insurance regulations passed because their whole life is a pre-existing condition and their entire lives are at the mercy of their medical insurance company.

Currently the money from the sale of their home is running out and the man has been out of work for over a year. His wife's unemployment benefits have been exhausted. His COBRA payment is about to double to over $1000 for the family and the man's unemployment benefits are approx $1600. Last week the man was informed that the house they are renting is going up for auction.

Oh, and they are still making payments to the IRS.

So, the next time someone lies to you and tells you that the free market is the answer and it will offer choices for everyone, think about the family in the story...because this is my story.