Is the  health care reform bill a step toward ensuring that anyone living with chronic illness will  receive  “adequate” medical  treatment?

Or is it just more help for the healthy?

I don’t have the answer.  But I’m delighted that in the increased attention on the burden that chronic illness places on individuals and society when the chronically ill don’t receive the health care they need.

I’m no political sage. I  don’t understand  the  fine print in the new health care plan.  But I’ve heard  horror stories from chronically ill people —  clients and others – – who can’t  afford a specialist or pay for expensive medications.  Folks who are working and have some health insurance!

As I described in a recent post, you can be fired or lose  insurance benefits if you don’t disclose a medical condition before hire.  You can also not be hired or lose your job if you do.  Sorry if I’m stating the obvious, but we can’t expect legislation to prevent  unfair practices from happening.

The Massachusetts   health care reform program is  cited as a national model and there’s  the good, bad and ugly. Unfortunately, universal coverage does not entitle the chronically ill to  good or even adequate health care.

Back to my question.  Is this a  step toward better health care protection for those of us living with chronic illness – whether working or not?  At the least, we are justified in hoping so.

Will it prevent people from being fired when they disclose  a chronic illness – or even not getting health insurance?  I doubt it. There are only so many battles we can fight and much slips through the cracks.

Living with illness gives you the perspective that the unexpected and unpredictable happens.  That’s not necessarily a negative.  It can be a point from which to expand and keep hope alive.  I feel more hopeful today.  Do you?


8 Responses to “Can we hope health care “reform” will help the chronically ill?”  

  1. 1 Pam

    I do not believe this health care bill will help chronically ill patients like myself. There are just too many other ways an employer can fire someone if they really want to so that they don’t have to use your chronic illness. Perhaps, having the preexisting condition rule will help now, but breast cancer was already covered and I don’t know if other conditions were as well.
    The Massachusetts model has been deemed a failure by most. It has almost bankrupted the state and they would not have even been able to pay for common services this past year, had the federal government not bailed them out. It has raised their taxes tremendously which this health care bill will do also tp the rest of us.
    I do not see anything in this health care bill that will help chronically ill people. I have fibromyalgia and now migraines as well as being an 11 yr. breast cancer survivor. I had to quit my job this past year and I am one of those people who in spite of paying for my own health insurance, I could not afford the quality of health care I wanted because I did not have the money. But that’s life, I don’t expect someone else to bail me out. Because what I do have is good health care. My insurance pays for a specialist and prescriptions, and tests. I have a $600 yearly deductible. I get to see my own choice of doctors. I feel very lucky to have that. And with this new health care bill, I will NOT have all that.
    I will be forced to buy health insurance of the kind I may not want and still get the kind of care I did not get before. And my entire family is from Canada. Don’t get me started on what kind of care they get. But at least they don’t have to buy it!!!
    No, this health care bill is NOT reform in my opinion. I believe people with chronic illnesses could be in a MUCH worse postion!!

  2. 2 Rosalind

    Thanks 4 sharing, Pam. It’s clear that there are many deep problems here.Sorry to hear you had to quit your job. How’s that going for you?

  3. 3 Judith

    I don’t think this bill will help chronically ill people keep their jobs. Employers are not required from anything I have read from the bill to continue to employ anyone who has an illness that they want to terminate. The only thing I see is that everyone will be required to have some kind of insurance, just like we are required to have house and car insurance.

    The problem I see is that anyone who becomes unemployed would more likely choose the State insurance, since it will probably be cheaper than COBRA. The issue I have with this is that insurance would have to be subsidized by taxes (called “credits” in the bill). While I want as many people to have insurance, I balk at the price tag. If we are having trouble keeping Social Security afloat, how can we support all of this for the long-term? Could it last even as long as Social Security has lasted?

    While it is a noble idea, I don’t see how it is sustainable.

  4. 4 Christina

    Rosalind — thanks for bringing this up and thanks Pam for your insights. As this whole bill has been discussed over the past year — and no, I haven’t read the 2,700 page document — I’ve been wondering if it would make any difference in how I get my health care at all.

    As a chronically ill person, my dream health care bill would have involved extending Medicare coverage so that CI people on SS could make more than $710 a month and still get coverage. I’m one of these people who is uninsurable if buying health care in the open market.

    But this is my own individual situation — my NY specialist only sees me on Medicare, because my private insurance is too much of a hassle to deal with. But this private insurance works well for the basics like gyno and dental, and is affordable.

    My mother, 78, on the other hand, doesn’t want an extension of Medicare because lots of her doctors don’t take it. My shrink says she’d prefer a one-payer system. The problem is, all different people have all different needs. If you force all doctors to deal with Medicare, then the hue and cry of Socialism is going to get even louder. I’ve lived and worked in the U.K. and France and their imperfect systems at least offer a safety net for citizens, but ONLY for citizens.

    Contrary to what Michael Moore showed in Sicko, you can’t get NHS coverage if you’re not a permanent, legal resident of the U.K., or a member of one of their former colony/commonwealth states. So — NHS for Irish and Pakistanis, not for Yanks. I sympathise with his aims, but wish he didn’t oversimplify.

    I couldn’t sort NHS out and I was a student, I had to do some complicated things with my US-based care. If I’d wound up in the emergency room like the young man he interviewed — they’d have covered me, but not for basic gyno care, etc.

    The people he interviewed in France were only covered by the French system because employed by large multinational companies. But if I were to decide to live in France this minute — I certainly wouldn’t be covered. This is at the root of much of their “immigrant problem” — the difficulty of sharing their extensive benefit system with huge waves of immigrants from former colonies, who have enormous families.

    So — no easy answers — but let’s keep this conversation going!

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