This is my fourth grandchild, Stephanie. She is a very sweet and loving child. She loves to read to her Nanny, still fits on my lap for relaxation in a rocking chair, and her eyes are either blue, turquoise, or gray – depending on what she is wearing. She is shy and occasionally stubborn, but she comes by that pretty naturally.
Stephanie has missed school again this week. She has another sore throat and fever. She has a lot of sore throats, and strep throat more than any little being should endure – because Stephanie has huge tonsils. I’ve seen her tonsils and they nearly close off her throat. Sometimes she must sleep nearly sitting up, and she snores like an old drunken man. Because she has huge tonsils.
Stephanie still has those monster tonsils because she is not covered by insurance. Her parents are both working, and although they are not destitute by any means, they are struggling to make ends meet. Neither has employer provided insurance for dependents. Her mother COULD cover her children (she has another daughter from a previous relationship) through coverage offered by her employer, but the premium is exorbitant would eat up approximately 3/4 of her paycheck. That is not an exaggeration. The insurance, while very pricey, is really not a great policy – it has a high deductible, big co-pays, and additional charges that are euphemistically described as “co-insurance” charges. These costs would easily consume the rest of Mama’s paycheck.
Stephanie also does not qualify for state-sponsored insurance programs designed to provide children with affordable access to health care. One program is not available to anyone who has access to insurance (regardless of cost). The other program has income guidelines – and Stephanie’s parents make just more (and I do mean JUST more) than the guidelines allow. Because they are working adults who do not receive government assistance, Stephanie’s parents are expected to pay cash for any health care services they seek.
Stephanie’s situation is not all that unusual, given the economy and rising costs of health insurance premiums – both for employers and employees. I get that. There is resistance to “socialized” medicine (the physician and insurance industry PACs are well funded, very organized, and persistent and have the most to lose). I get that, as well. Our legislators are mostly wealthy, and have access to great medical care. I get that, too.
As a nurse, I have seen much waste, fraud, and stupidity in the provision (or not) of health care services. But I am trained to provide care to everyone entrusted to me, and I believe everyone should have access to affordable health care.
Then I read this post by amostlyseriousnurse. In this post, she discusses a heroin addict’s abuse of hospital services in which he received free medical care, via uncompensated hospital admissions, FOURTEEN TIMES in one year to have wounds cared for – self-inflicted wounds resulting from injecting heroin directly into his buttocks because his veins are shot. I am sickened by stories like this.
There has to be a better way…there are the haves (insured) and the have-nots (uninsured but eligible for assistance) and a very large portion of the population (the working poor) who could be bankrupted by medical costs. Parents should not have to choose between groceries or insurance premiums for lousy coverage. They should not have to watch their child struggle with yet another bout of strep, or administer yet another antibiotic (thankfully – free due to pharmacy sponsored programs). A child should not have to suffer repeatedly in this, a country with exceptional health care facilities and services because her parents are neither rich enough to pay cash, nor poor enough to qualify for services.
I think I’ll either have to spring for some insurance coverage, pay for a surgical intervention, or introduce Stephanie to heroin…