As our politicians in Washington dicker and bicker over the details of health care reform–over how the CBO will score this, or how many votes can we get for that, or how can we deal the president a political blow on this, or what can we vote for and still keep the campaign contributions flowing on that–here’s what happening to REAL people in the REAL world.
A husband and father in Wisconsin, Bill Caudle, has to leave his cancer-stricken wife Michelle and their 14 year-old daughter and join the army, just to get health insurance to cover his wife’s chemotherapy.
“In March, he was laid off from his job as a raw materials coordinator for a plastics company called PolyOne, where he’d worked for 20 years. His severance package had provided several months’ salary, but by August the paychecks were winding down. Soon the cost of his family health coverage was going to triple, then a few months after that, nearly triple again. They needed coverage so Mom could fight her cancer.
Dad’s solution: a four-year hitch in the Army.
…But for weeks before enlisting, Bill had sought other options. He revised his résumé. He answered “help wanted” ads, then watched the companies cut workers instead of hiring them. He interviewed for one job that would have paid $13 an hour – less than half of what he was making at PolyOne. He didn’t get the job.
…The president’s stimulus bill was helping laid off workers pay for the health coverage they had while employed. Between this assistance and Bill’s severance package from PolyOne, the Caudles initially paid $136 a month for their coverage.
But in September, when Bill’s severance package ended, they would pay $497.
In January, when they would be on their own: $1,370.
…Bill’s mother, Marguerite Hemiller, accompanied Michelle to her cancer treatments. Hemiller, a nurse for 27 years, remembered that during the first months of chemo, Michelle would stand in the parking lot crying, not wanting to go inside. Now, Hemiller felt conflicted about her son’s decision to join the Army.
“One half of me says, ‘Go.’ The other half says, ‘You’d better stay,’ ” she said. “I know he’s got to do it. He’s got to get that insurance.“
This is the system our elected officials don’t think needs a complete overhaul. And these are the tactics of the insurance companies many of them are fighting to protect:
“What if a health insurance provider told you that before it would insure you, you would have to be sterilized?
That’s what a Colorado woman told U.S. senators during a committee hearing last week. McClatchy Newspapers reported that Peggy Robertson read a letter from her insurance company. Here’s an excerpt from the McClatchy report:
Robertson testified that because she had already given birth via cesarean, when she tried to get an individual policy in Colorado, her insurance company considered it a pre-existing condition and wouldn’t insure her unless she could prove she had been sterilized.”
Forced sterilization as a pre-requisite for insurance. In the United States of America. We should be ashamed.