Letter: Everyone needs comprehensive health insurance

Posted

To the Editor:

Medicare for All. Universal Health Care. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Employer-based health insurance with options. Private health insurers. Whatever it's called, wherever it comes from, every American needs to be covered.

Normally I stay out of insurance discussions of any kind — even as a daughter of a man who spent his working life with a chemical and industrial insurance company, rising through the ranks to VP of Finance and Administration — because I have what I call insurance dyslexia. My brain shuts down and my eyes glaze over. I certainly can't offer or contribute anything of substance.

Just over four months ago, however, I had open heart surgery to replace one valve and repair another. I knew it was coming: after a first such surgery 25 years ago to repair the now-replaced valve, I had periodic smaller procedures and tests over the intervening years to keep track of things, especially in the last five or six years as my symptoms began to show the need for the more intensive - and, this time, more extensive - surgery again.

Three weeks ago I received a statement from Medicare of the costs of the surgery, some pre-surgery diagnostic tests and procedures, and some of my aftercare. So far the total is $100,215, but that's just from early July to mid-October. There were several tests and doctors' office visits before that start date. That $100K amount includes the surgery — $46,418 — and associated costs such as anesthesia care —$12,000 — and lab and related tests — $14,000. It also includes a short ambulance ride, a visit to the ER and another, unexpected, week in hospital, and a second round of rehab. It does not, as far as I can tell, reflect the nursing, physical, and occupational therapists' visits when I finally returned home for good, nor the cardiac rehab I'm due to start soon.

Thankfully, BCBS paid for the 1994 surgery, and Medicare and Medicaid paid for this summer's surgery. I don't know how I got so lucky — I am not special, know no one special, have no special connections. I am acutely aware that too many people are not as lucky. They must choose between medical care and their mortgage or rent or other bills, and their health usually takes the hit.

I do understand this: Everyone needs comprehensive medical insurance, whatever it's called. Political candidates take note and make it happen.

Genie Rayner,

Bennington

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