Health Insurance, Bankruptcy, And The Power Of Community

HCAN Rapid Response Columbus 7/22/08Everyone thinks that health insurance is there to keep them solvent should they get sick, but it doesn’t work that way. I’ve talked to far too many people who got seriously sick and could no longer work and when they lost their jobs, they lost their insurance. My friend with the brain tumor is starting to figure this out: The system is stacked against people who get sick, especially if they have health insurance through an employer.

The Statistics

It’s pretty sad, but statistics in a Harvard study published in Health Affairs, pointed to half of all bankruptcies in 2001 coming from medical debt. Of those that went bankrupt due to medical bills, three quarters were for people who at one time had health insurance. If that’s not enough to make you sit up and take notice, nothing will. Health insurance is really no insurance that 1) You will be able to pay all your bills, if you get seriously ill, and 2) That they will cover all the medicines and treatments that you need.

Opt For Community Support To Help Meet the Shortfall

That’s where local community based programs in your area and getting informed on any financial programs for your particular disease become highly important. We’ve decided to work with a program called Project Compassion, here in NC, to establish a support team of volunteers for my friend. Along with that, we are beginning to look over some of the financial assistance available for people with brain tumors. I found a comprehensive list here: Financial Assistance List from The American Brain Tumor Association . I’m sure there are other such lists for different diseases, depending on what you have.

Your Neighborly Experts

And, a network of people who have gone through the system helps too. Right now, we have one person who has gone through the process of collecting disability with the Social Security office for a member of her family who also had a brain tumor. Her understanding of the system will be invaluable. The way I found out about Project Compassion was through another friend who had to set up a support team for a friend of hers who had a stroke and had some cognitive deficits and needed round-the-clock care. He was uninsured when he had the stroke, yet they managed to take care of him and he is doing quite well in the community now. We can’t rely on the government programs, the health insurance system, or any other profit-oriented system to help in these types of cases. It really requires community support, since the United States refuses to put a national health care system into place that will make these types of cases the exception, and not the norm.

Contact Professionals, If You Need To

Yet another friend told me that when he got into a car accident and his wife became ill, he applied for disability and it took over four years to get it. They amassed over $200,000 in medical debt, in the meantime. He eventually hired a lawyer to submit all the proper paperwork, in exchange for some of the back pay on the benefits they were refusing to give him. He said he was later told that 99% of all Social Security disability claims are automatically rejected UNLESS there is an attorney who submits them. Then, they go into a different pile where they are given the attention they deserve. Is that true? I don’t know that we can doubt it at this point, seeing how incredibly callous our governmental policies and health insurance companies tend to be. I think that where something demands compassion, the care should never be organized nor implemented by profit-driven companies or agencies. It’s absolutely nuts.

Build Community Now, Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

So, build your network of friends, a loving community, now, because when times get tough, you know that’s what it takes to get you by. And, if you can’t be bothered to participate to help someone else when they are in dire straits, that sort of thing eventually changes when you’re the one in dire need. It’s a good thing to cultivate compassion now, while we can be thankful for all the good things in our lives – like perfect health.


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One response to “Health Insurance, Bankruptcy, And The Power Of Community

  1. Nice post.Keep up with the good information!

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