Politics threatens my wife’s health

Too late. It's already there.

For the last three years, my wife has been able to get needed medical attention and surgeries she needed to correct a back problem that could have put her in a wheelchair because she got needed medical insurance from Anthem through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is also known as Obamacare.

When a bad accident damn near killed me in late 2012, my limited medical insurance left us hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital debt.  The costs could have been worse.  My Medicare and supplemental insurance kicked in when I turned 65 halfway through my prolonged hospital stay, but the bulk of the medical costs were not covered from my time in multiple surgeries and a long stay in intensive care.

When I got out of the hospital on Christmas Eve of 2012, my Medicare and supplemental programs were in place but we faced losing our home and just about everything else.  The struggle to recover from the financial burdens of the accident destroyed my credit rating.

Efforts by Floyd attorney Jonathan Rogers brought a settlement with the insurance company that provided liability coverage for the owner of the animal involved in my accident and that paid for my overdue hospital bills and related expenses, but we continue to struggle with rebuilding my tattered credit scores and restore a financial condition for the remainder of our lives.

A work-related accident left Amy with a serious pre-existing back condition and no insurance company would touch her after her workmen’s compensation benefits ended.

Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act kicked in and Amy was able to get needed medical insurance from Anthem.

Ironically, the plan she got was pretty much the same one that Anthem denied coverage for because of her back situation — a ‘pre existing” condition.  The cost?  Very affordable because of our financial situation which allowed tax incentives from the federal government.

Her insurance paid for needed back surgery in 2015 and other medical procedures.  Her treatment and recovery continues and such treatments are expensive.

However, Anthem this week announced plans to discontinue offering insurance under the Affordable Care Act, effective Jan. 1, 2018.  That leaves her with four months of affordable health insurance, with a good drug plan, at a time when she also begins treatment for advanced osteoporosis.

So we begin shopping for a new plan among the dwindling number of insurance companies that remain.  Aetna dropped out earlier.

We will need such insurance for just six months.  Amy goes on Medicare in July of next year and she will probably go for the same supplemental insurance that I use, which is from Anthem. It will cost more than what she is paying now for insurance under ACA but her Social Security will help cover the costs.

We’re not surprised Anthem bowed out.  Current President Donald Trump started the withdrawals when he announced plans to cut the tax subsidies that support ACA plans.  He claims the ACA is supposed to fail because it doesn’t work, but it has worked for us and hundreds of thousands of others who were able to receive needed insurance at an affordable price.

“The market for these plans has become unstable. And with federal rules and guidance changing, it’s no longer possible for us to offer those plans,” said the email Amy received Friday from Anthem President Jeff Ricketts.  “This is not an easy decision for us. We know that changes like these can have a real impact on the people we serve.”

Real impact?  Let’s call that an understatement.

The GOP-controlled House and Senate have not been able to come up with a workable insurance plan and have not kept a promise to replace the ACA with anything that will give affordable insurance to those who need it most.  Republicans blamed what they call “the failure” of the ACA but their actions created most of the problems that now threaten anyone who has coverage under the ACA.  Democrats blamed the Republicans for trying to fix a plan they say worked but neither side appears willing to work together to fix the problems they have created or come up with a better program.

For us, ACA took care of my wife’s medical needs, kept her out of a wheelchair and is currently helping her deal with osteoporosis.  While she will be able to get Medicare and supplemental coverage by July of next year, we worry the antics driven by partisanship on both sides of Congress will cripple those insurance options.

Given the destructive nature of partisan politics, anything can happen and what happens will probably make things worse.

Whoever called this the “golden years” has a sick sense of humor.


© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse