For 14 years, I paid for my so-called health-care insurance on good faith and without fail each month. This was [a prominent nonprofit health-care insurer.]. Shortly after my college graduation in 1992, I was diagnosed with a severe and chronic illness. Immediately, [the insurer] denied all coverage for this illness, stating they exclude “those types of illnesses.” Further, eventually, [the insurer] also deemed this illness as pre-existing anyway, I guess because sometimes it’s hereditary.
Well, the prescription medications alone did cost and still do cost nearly $4,000 per month; my doctors put me on permanent disability; further, I had to become technically indigent in order to qualify for Medi-Cal to receive the necessary medications and treatment. Eighteen years later, I am still on disability and Medi-Cal, and denied the opportunity to work, as these so-called health-care insurance companies will not cover treatment of my particular illness. None of them will. My income is $850 a month; if I make any more than $1,000 per month, I will lose my health-care benefits.
Just to make things perfectly clear, I got my degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in political science with an emphasis on international relations, specifically between U.S.-U.S.S.R.-China. I lived on mainland China for more than one year teaching as a university professor. I speak English, French, and Mandarin Chinese. And I am stuck as an indigent on permanent disability in order to survive my chronic but fully treatable illness. This is utterly blasphemous, don’t you think? That is exactly what happened to me. I am creative and have needed to be creative, but I actually would like to be able to pay my taxes—it’s just that if I make money out in the open, I’ll lose everything that I need (i.e. medications) to stay alive and well. — Christina Marlowe, Summerland
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What the government is calling “the health reform bill” does nothing to help people in medical need. It is just another way for our government to milk us working people for everything we have. To add another cost to our bill pile is only going to frustrate hard-working people and make us more stressed out. Our freedom and constitutional rights have been violated once again. How can we keep calling ourselves a democracy when we will be forced to get health insurance or be fined? I should be able to make my own choice on what health care I want or don’t want. Now the government is holding a gun to my head and robbing me of my hard-earned money and my freedom of choice. I don’t think so. — Nancy Ellen Kapp, S.B.
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Instead of arguing about health care, how about arguing about health? That’s what we’re all after. By doing three simple and smart things, we can bring down costs and raise wellness.
Number one, start our young citizens out right. Kids need to exercise and eat healthy food. Second, for most of us in the middle years, we have to get checkups to catch problems early. Third, we have to enter the controversial zone. My mother always said she wanted to “go quick” for the usual two reasons: less pain and less trouble for herself and the rest of the family. We need to agree to not have a consensus in end-of-life decisions, neither advocating nor rejecting heroic medical treatments, or incremental measures in order to extend life.
There’s optimism in modern and palliative treatments. Loved ones can rally amidst an illness, offering the promise of extra time to heal relations with family, and within themselves.
I say we discuss these matters up and down, and in and out—in the public arena, and within our homes. There is still be much to be argued after last weekend’s vote. — James Gavin