Sunday, November 15, 2009

Health Care Conversation with a Friend

From my uninsured blog:

An E-mail Conversation with a Friend

I heard from a friend I’ll call Rosemary. She is now 58, has two kids, was a single mother much of her life, and had a pretty good job (one that had health care benefits…) up until three or four years ago. Then she was laid off, was unemployed for a year or more, and then found another job, but without healthcare. Here is our e-mail exchange:

R: My regular doctor, who has turned into a jerk, fired me as his patient because I can't afford to pay $125 to visit him and then pay for blood work and such. He said I refuse (REFUSE??) to follow his instructions so I can no longer go to him or his cohorts.
I have been taking blood pressure medication and anti-depressants for about 10 years and I just need to get the rx renewed by someone as my old doctor won't do it.
Any ideas?

Me: I asked for a referral from Physicians for Social Responsibility and got a Dr. X. When I was uninsured he charged me what Medicare would have paid which was $60. Use my name, I just visited him and he will remember me most likely.

My old doctor in Yuba City turned into a jerk as well. First she didn't want to see me at all (doctors can refuse to see people who are uninsured, and many do), and then charged me $125, even though she accepted $87 when I was insured. And after the prescription ran out she insisted that I drive to Yuba City for another visit at $125. I originally got my prescriptions from Canada but then found a great deal at Costco, 3 months for $17, and it had been over $100 per month. Check with Costco re your meds, you can go to their website to check. And good luck!

Can I put your story on my uninsured blog? ( and go to Margie's uninsured blog.) How long till 65 (Medicare)?

R: you can put my story anywhere you want. I get my rx's from Target and pay $16 a month for both so I'm ok there. I looked on line to see if I could get my blood pressure meds from maybe Canada but I needed an rx. That's the same I need in the US!
will be 58 in 12 days.

Next note from R: I called Sutter this morning and got an approval as a charity case. Lord, I was never a charity case before but I don't care what they call it, I get to see a doctor.

This last comment unexpectedly shook me to the core. Then I remembered something from years ago. I was unemployed, I was broke, and I had depression and bad toothaches. I went to the Social Services department to apply for MediCal and it was one of the most depressing and humiliating experiences of my life. I could picture that awful waiting room and the condescension on the faces of everyone I talked to. There was no compassion, no reassurance, no reflection of their humanity or mine. I think I made up my mind then that I would literally rather die than ever be a charity case again. I was wrong, and though I still bleed for my friend, I am glad that she got help. She is a valuable, lovely person and she deserves good healthcare. And so do I.

In the course of this year’s Congressional town halls, I heard both Congressman Lungren and McClintock respond to seriously distressed constituents with family members in serious medical trouble that they could “ask for charity.” Eric Cantor suggested to a woman with a 40 year old female relative with stomach tumors and no insurance that “there are charitable organizations who do provide charity care.”

1&playnext_from=PL&index=23 ) And Senator Tom Coburn had a similar response. ( Is this a Republican talking point or just a coincidence? Do they even have any idea of what asking for charity means to people?

I also believe there are many more people in the 40 or 50 plus demographics who are disproportionally affected by this recession and our awful healthcare non-system. We are too young for Medicare, we are often laid off first, we experience age discrimination when we look for jobs, and many of us are overwhelmed with full time jobs, childcare and caring for aging parents. This cohort is probably less likely to demonstrate or otherwise make our voices heard. In many cases, we simply don’t have the time or energy.

--Margie Metzler, OWL California Member

No comments: