When I first married, we had no medical insurance. Actually, we didn't have any insurance until we'd been married nearly three years. Our first two children arrived without benefit of health insurance which meant that we paid both hospital bill and doctor bill on our own. Fortunately, the hospital bill for the first one was around three hundred dollars and the second one was a tad more--around three hundred and fifty. The doctor bills for delivery were one hundred and seventy five dollars each. Of course forty years ago that was still a lot of money. My take home pay for a month was two hundred dollars.
Now--now hospital bills are outrageous and doctor bills are that high just for an office visit. Unfortunately, nothing much as changed. Most young married couples have no health insurance because they're working in dead-end, minimum wage jobs where health benefits are not provided. My husband and I will be facing the exact same thing when he retires--minimal health benefits that we have to pay for out of our retirement income. If for some terrible reason he were to die before retirement, I wouldn't even have minimal health insurance. And with the raft of pre-existing conditions I have, buying it would cost more than my pitiful income.
How did our country reach this impasse? Why are our elderly forced to decide between food and medication? Why are our children missing critical well visits? Why do our young adults have to put off non-critical surgeries?
And more importantly why are insurance companies deciding which health services are eligible for coverage? Why to they get to decide that I should have surgery for a stubborn kidney stone rather than a newer, less invasive lithotripsy? At some point, something went wrong. Now doctors find themselves prevented from serving the patient's best interests because of the limitations set by the insurance company. And as they say, the insurance companies have us all by the short and curlies. Who can afford to pay for their own medical costs?
It will be interesting to see what Congress does under new leadership after November. Will there be changes? Or will we continue in the same self-destructive path we're on?