Give me healthcare or give me death
Living with a chronic condition during the war on healthcare
My insurance company hates me.
In the last six months, I’ve had two visits with my primary care physician, three with my gastroenterologist, I’ve filled three prescriptions, had two rounds of bloodwork and one surgical procedure.
I take three daily medications. A six-week prescription of one of them is priced at $4,154.
I have lymphocytic colitis; a chronic, non-curable form of irritable bowel disease. It causes my body to produce too many white blood cells that are stored in the walls of my colon. These white blood cells prevent my body from absorbing water and nutrients, which cause rapid weight loss, nausea, dehydration, fatigue and a host of other draining symptoms.
I am 19 years old and I will have to take steroids to combat this cell production for the rest of my life.
And I’m lucky to be on my parents’ insurance plan, but once I turn 26 I will be responsible for either procuring my own insurance, or footing my extensive medical bills myself.
After college, I plan to pursue a career in journalism, but the average yearly salary of a journalist in New York is $46,000 a year and most broadcast journalism contracts are two-year plans with very few benefits.
In comes Bernie Sanders to my rescue.
“Medicare for All” –– his plan for universal healthcare –– is a hot-button issue. The plan promises no out-of-pocket expenses, insurance premiums, deductibles or copayments. These expenses can pile on top of the already astronomical cost of seeing a physician. Whether you think healthcare should be considered a human right or not, it is a law that would impact all of our lives.
Those who support universal healthcare know that our current system does not favor those with pre-existing and chronic conditions.
Pre-existing conditions are medical conditions that start before a person’s insurance plan goes into effect. This includes conditions ranging from asthma to cancer. Until 2014, insurance companies were allowed to refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions. While this is no longer allowed, insurance companies still find loopholes.
Not to mention, insurance companies don’t like paying for “frequent fliers” and 133 million Americans are diagnosed with chronic illnesses –– medical conditions that last longer than three months. People with chronic illnesses also rack up hefty copay bills between doctor visits, lab work and prescriptions.
And the current Medicare system only covers people over the age of 65 or those considered disabled, and coverage varies based on your income and the state you live in.
My condition doesn’t qualify me as disabled, so I would not qualify for Medicare.
But I would qualify for Medicare for All.
Medicare for All would cover the cost of my daily steroid.
Medicare for All would cover the copays for all of my doctor’s appointments.
Regardless of the practicality and ease of taking down the privatized insurance machine, Medicare for All is for the greater good.
The argument for the current American healthcare system is that it gives people greater choice. But what about the people who can’t afford a choice at all?
I should not harbor a fear of turning 26 and losing my parents’ insurance. I should not fear going to the doctor because I may not be able to afford the copays or medications. A bottle of pills that I need to survive should not cost $4,000. People who suffer from chronic or pre-existing conditions face endless worries. But our politicians and healthcare workers should be supporting those in need.
Whether you “feel the Bern” or not, I’m not asking you to support a politician. I’m asking you to support human beings. Do not add to the suffering of sick people, people like me.
Reilly Mullen is the assistant news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReillyMMullen.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article used "medicaid" when referencing "medicare."