Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Bipolar changes the country

I live and vote in Ohio.  Frankly, being "THE state" is a pain in the butt.  I would guess that in the last 2 months or longer I've gotten at least 20 pieces of political mail per week and more like 50 lately.  I haven't gotten called because I have cell only but for the 2 months I was at my mom's she was called at least 100 times, probably more.  We didn't answer but it's still annoying that the phone rings whenever you sit down.  I know this happens in every state but it is much worse the last few elections when Ohio has been the one that would determine it.  When I first say a projection I was shocked because Romney was way ahead.  However, only 1% of the vote was in.  

Over the years I've voted various ways.  I used to be a pretty consistent Republican.  I went to a college that was so conservative that I left adolescence and moved into my early 20s believing that what amounted to a stricter world was what I wanted.  I was still a kid...As I grew older I realized that I cared about things that weren't always conservative.  I voted for George W. but I questioned myself the first time because of his approach to the death penalty.  I voted for him a 2nd time (I know......) because I was too ill to sort it out, and because I thought that he had handled 9/11 well and had potential.  I  also wanted to support some Medicare stuff that the republicans were promoting.  As the next election came about in 2008 I started paying attention to what I thought was important. My mom who is a pretty consistent democrat kept telling me about this Obama guy.  One day I was at her house and happened to turn on the TV just in time to watch him speak in Ohio, several hours from here.  And what I saw was a human being.  He noticed someone faint in the heat, stopped speaking, requested assistance and handed his own water bottle down through the crowd to her.  He did not start talking again until the paramedics had gotten her on the way to the ambulance.  He cared and I truly felt it was real, not a political show.  So I listened more and did a great deal of reading about the different candidates and their approach to handling health care and specifically mental health care.  Other factors were involved in my vote but that was huge.  I knew that I couldn't get coverage if I lost my job.  I knew that I could manage to meet a lifetime maximum if I had enough psych hospitalizations.  I knew that healthcare costs could break me, and I was earning a decent salary then.   Even then we all knew that I should be working half-time.  I couldn't because I had no healthcare options.  Now I could buy into the high risk pool and continue working less hours and probably have worked longer.

Over this last  year or two I've  had plenty of reason to become rather focused on what was happening with healthcare.  Not just as my job, but as ME.  For 2 or 3 years I had to pay out of pocket for one of my medications, at $300-$400 per month.  The medication helped me wake up so I could work and we fought the insurance repeatedly, particularly because I'd had it covered for years before they decided not to cover it anymore.  I had about $200 of co-pays/month as well for meds, plus co-pays for drs. and I paid for Dr. Mind out of pocket. Last year when my income had completely disappeared I got the first bills from one of my hospitalizations or my first surgery.  It was several thousand dollars, I think $4000, and I had no income.  I called Cleveland Clinic, explained the situation, filled out paperwork and since then because my income is low I've gotten free care.  I just apply every 3 months.  Because of my proximity to poverty level I get 100% of my care covered.  All hospitals have this program but Cleveland Clinic expands it to cover a lot more.  Along with that I faced having no insurance, no way to see any doctor but at Cleveland Clinic (a long drive if I just need blood drawn), and no way to cover the meds I take, many thousands of dollars of meds per year ($10,000 to $15,000 per year if they were out of pocket).  Thankfully I have been eligible for assistance through big pharmaceuticals for the most expensive meds.  I never will speak as negatively of them again.  Some drug companies cut off below my tiny income and so we have to avoid meds from them.  Everything medical is complicated.  I've had many UTIs.  I am 100% sure I have one now and a test strip agreed.  It's a good thing that I have a good relationship with Dr. Body as he told me months ago that he is ok with giving me antibiotics on my say so because I've never abused them.  So there's no doctor visit unless he makes me go to the surgeon, and that's fine.  I've had plenty of UTIs and I know the drill..

The main thing this year though has been Medicare hangs above me.   I'm not eligible for Medicaid, can't afford the $400 Cobra, and even if I could afford the high risk pool which is reasonably priced, it's still too much and I'd have to have been uninsured 6 months.  Medicare kicks in long after SSDI and so I wait.  Medicare as it stands has huge problems.  I know this as a professional and as a pending recipient.  It's going to take a chunk of money each month.  I don't have the option to do managed medicare as I'd like because it costs more, so I'll have to find dental insurance privately.  But at least there will be coverage.  There's also a plan ot reduce the donut hole until it is eliminated, making meds much more manageable.  I was, however, terrified of the voucher program.  I could see so many ways that would not work and that it would create more paperwork for me and my doctors, plus it could easily have limited care ("Here's your $500 per  month").  So this time I was so focused on this one issue that most other things that mattered to me were secondary.

I voted for Obama because I am bipolar and I believe that his plans, while not perfect, will provide care that I cannot afford because SSDI payments just aren't very big. Essentially my bipolar disorder led me to my vote and with every vote counting here in Ohio that was how mine counted.

And now it is time to sleep.  I stayed up to see the speeches and am now quite sleepy.

1 comment:

Jean Grey said...

I feel very similar. Having a pre-existing condition makes me feel very vulnerable.

I also find it strange when people talk about "Cadillac Plans" as though they are a bad thing. The only people who think that your health insurance could be too good are health people. I have a high deductible plan through my job and I am dealing with $3000 in bills from my hospitalization.