Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oh, the Joys of Health Insurance Changes and Our Economy!

Well, while I think that health care reform is a wonderful idea and is definitely needed, the insurance companies have used it as an excuse to raise premiums, thereby forcing people to pay up or reduce their coverage. In our case, my husband's employer had to choose the higher deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance to keep their employee's premiums about the same (which still increased a bit). That was a wise decision on their part, but there was no way to get around the problems those changes pose. I have heard calls to repeal health reform, but doing so will not reduce the premiums. They are up and the insurance companies will not just bring them back down to where they were. They are here to stay. Hopefully the health care changes will make a big difference when they are implemented.

So, despite no increase in income, there are lots of increases in expenses. While it is easy to say "trim the fat", what if there is no more fat to trim? What if the fat is the outlay of money for medical bills? How do you cut that? Do you stop the medical treatment that is helping? In the case of Eosinophilic Esophagitis, where you need to do food trials and have endoscopies to determine if those foods are safe, do you stop the food trials and just be happy with the formula (if it's covered by your insurance)? Do you choose to push forward because your child's well-being relies on getting more "normal" foods so he/she can eat in the lunchroom and socialize with others vs having to take a box of formula and a feeding bag wherever he goes and explaining it to everyone? Do you choose to push forward and face those medical bills or do you choose to pay the mortgage to keep a roof over your heads and buy food to sustain the rest of the family?

What if you also have other issues to deal with in addition to the medical ones? What if you also have to address educational issues, mental health issues, developmental issues, therapies and so on? Sometimes, insurance doesn't cover some or all of the latter 3, and it never covers the educational needs. Those educational issues that are not handled by the schools (or necessitate legal representation to get the schools to handle) are out-of-pocket expenses, and they are very costly. These are often things that need to be addressed right away, yet what if you can't do that and make ends meet? There are so many more potential expenses, depending on the individual family.

On top of all of that, what if you are a single income family, not by choice but by necessity. What if the 2nd spouse wants to work (REALLY wants to work), but with all of the medical needs, etc, that person would not be reliable and would not be able to keep a job (if they were even lucky enough to find one)? What if only one spouse could work and bring home a steady paycheck, and the other had to be home (and constantly on-call) to take care of all of the other needs of the family?

This is the reality of so many people. There used to be at least a little help available to some in the form of minimal stipends and/or programs that varied by disability, state, etc., but with all of the cuts being made due to the economy, that help is being phased out or has already been cut too. So, there is even more hardship when those little lifelines are cut.

I have no answers, only questions. If I had answers, I would be sharing them with the world!

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