Friday, June 29, 2012

Politics and Diabetes

As many of you have read, the new Health Care law was upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday.  Although I am traditionally very conservative in my political opinions, primarily for national security purposes,  I cannot help but breath a major sigh of relief that the law is being upheld for the time being.

As it currently stands in the United States, insurance companies can refuse insurance coverage to any one with a "pre-existing condition." This means that if a patient demonstrates medical necessity for continuous coverage ($$$), many insurance companies will not provide coverage and therefore leave the cost of self-care entirely to the patient.  If you haven't picked up on the implication thus far, type 1 diabetes is considered to be one of these pre-existing conditions.

On one hand I completely understand why insurance companies would look at patients like me and want nothing to do with the cost of supplementing my pancreas...  Several months back I did an estimate on the out of pocket cost of operating my insulin pump, using test strips and regular (every 3 month) visits to the endocrinologist and I was shocked to learn that I could be spending up to $6000 per month just to stay healthy and ultimately alive.  I was at the pharmacy just last week refilling my test strips and the price per box of 50 test strips (lasts me five days or less) is $130 each... that racks up to $800 a month in test strips alone without insurance.

Fortunately, when I was diagnosed in January 2011 I already had full coverage under my HB's insurance provided by his employer and we are fortunate enough to have a high deductible plan which leaves us several thousand dollars of costs up front but free coverage after the deductible is met. Needless to say, we meet our deductible in under a month so that currently works out beautifully in our favor.

The problem comes in that if my husband were to change jobs for whatever reason without the new health care law fully implemented, I will be unable to get insurance through his new employer because of my diabetes.  Although I can currently thank God for the secure financial position He's placed my family in, the implications of non-coverage for the one member of the family requiring regular medical care significantly impacts the financial future we can provide for our children.  I can do without the fancy house, vacations and whatever other luxuries, but I can't accept that in the worst case scenario we'd be making choices like saving for GW and Baby to go to college OR refilling my artificial insulin.   Absolutely unacceptable.

Much still depends on the election this November on whether the bill will continue to move forward toward implementation in 2014 or not.  So, even as a registered Republican, for very personal reasons I'm casting my vote for Obama in the ardent hope that this discriminating exclusion of "pre-existing conditions" wont affect other people who find themselves in my unexpected position in the future.

(Plus, for whatever it is worth, this extremely security conscious American thinks Obama has actually done a better job than I expected in 2008 and I also think Michelle Obama is a miracle worker in fighting the epidemic of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes).

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