A case I’m familiar with, even though I’m not diabetic. There’s been discussion about insulin pricing forcing up the number of diabetics who die. Big Pharma is jumping the prices on the insulin medications vital for diabetics to the point where patients without insurance can no longer afford it. Yet there’s still no action to address the issue.
Here’s another condition/malady that kills. Hypertension is a largely silent killer–people who don’t have regular checkups don’t know they have it, and it is a common malady with obese individuals and people with lifestyle habits including smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and high stress lifestyles. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you engage in all those changes in lifestyle AND you start taking special meds to deal with the problem. problem solved EXCEPT hypertension drugs are prescribed in 90 day allotments. When your prescription runs out you have to find a GP who will write you another prescription. Which means an office visit. In NYC, it means you have to arrange for time off from work at least four times a year because your GP doesn’t make appointments after 5 or on weekends. That’s plan A.
Or you can take Plan B, which is happening to more and more people around the 50 something era. Once you’ve found that you can’t find a replacement form of employment that will include health insurance, you do the best you can. You do the non-pharma answers to hypertension and hope for the best. You quit smoking and drinking and give up caffeinated beverages, you try to exercise on a regular basis, you try to shed extra weight. You try not to have anxiety attacks when you feel dizzy all of a sudden.
One incident comes to mind. I was getting coverage through my DW and I found a ‘education enhancement’ job through a local nonprofit. But in order to keep the job I had to pass a physical. I still grind my teeth at this–that an employer can demand you pass a medical test when they aren’t doing anything to cover your medical costs. The test did not work out well owing to, well, hypertension, and I was minutes away from a hospital ER (which my DW’s insurance probably wasn’t going to cover). I got my pills, my BP went back to ‘normal’ and I got my job (which went away for reasons too arcane to use here). It’s amazing how many people trying to re-enter the job market have to go through this FOR WHICH THE EMPLOYER PAYS SPIT. A clinic doctor I later met commiserated with me that the trip to the ER would’ve been five figures out of pocket for ‘treatment’, which would’ve amounted to keeping me in a hospital and taking the medications I should have had access to anyway. As it was, they put me on several pieces of monitoring equipment that confirmed I was okay, for which I was asked to pay four figures out of pocket. This was all a few years ago, but the problem isn’t fixed.
So here we are. A few months ago, I got to go to a free clinic in Brooklyn (thank GOD) and the kindly physician there got me my scrip and right away, my bp went down. But the scrip is running dry after 90 days and my insurance from the GUMMIT doesn’t start til well after that. I am the simple artist. The film work I used to get (before the COVID pandemic, another medical story)isn’t coming back yet owing to a strike. And other employers (who complain to the high heavens about not being able to find employees) aren’t going to employ people of near-retirement age. Even if they do, most of them don’t cover medical insurance. Where can I get my scrip refilled?
And when people beat the drum for the Dems, that’s not enough. Sorry, but the establishment D’s like Pelosi and Feinstein and (let’s face it) Biden have to my knowledge never faced a time without insurance. Our political hierarchy is made up of millionaires. And most of them don’t even think about the issue. Or if they do (like Trump), they’ve weaponized healthcare to use against their opponents. When Trump was bragging pre-election about how great his Obamacare replacement would be, nobody brought up his nephew.
And I can say with confidence that this kind of crap doesn’t happen in the EU. It doesn’t happen in g20 countries with which the US trades. I have friends in the EU who work in the medical systems there, and this isn’t an issue. In the US we’re stuck with the ACA/ Obamacare, which didn’t get it done from the get go. And now employers (supposedly mandated to provide insurance) have found workarounds to offload the costs to employees with big deductibles and big limits on coverage for ‘wellness’.
One more thing. I can’t imagine that my years of skipping meds haven’t done damage. I wonder how many other retirees are dealing with all the damage done in the years when they couldn’t see a doctor.