This week I’ve decided to get personal. I’m referring to a situation with which I’ve been dealing in regards to a health issue. Thankfully it’s not life threatening but still requires some special attention. And, as I’ll explain, it’s been frustrating, overwhelming and a bit scary at times.
For most of my life I’ve suffered from chronic eczema. It’s a condition shared by, dare I say, millions of people. There have been periods in my life when it’s been pretty calm, but the majority of the time I have itchy, red, dry, rashy skin over a good portion of my body. I’m pretty good at camouflaging and managing it so most people don’t even know I suffer with it. Recently my doctor recommended a new form of treatment, one that will require me to give myself injections twice a month. It sounds radical to me, but the doctor and people currently taking this medication say it’s a game changer, so I’m going to try it.
The idea of giving myself a shot is daunting enough, but the process of getting insurance approval for the drug, arranging a co-pay plan, dealing with the “specialty pharmacy,” and arranging for a nurse to come to my home to train me on the med has been completely overwhelming. I’ve had multiple, duplicative phone calls with the above-mentioned companies, each telling me differing versions of how this process works. At this point in time, I’ve received insurance approval, been granted a co-pay plan and am awaiting delivery of the medication. Hopefully in the next few days I will be able to arrange for the nurse to come and help me administer the first dose.
As I’ve proceeded through this process I’ve come to realize a few things, not the least of which is that I am incredibly lucky to have the personal resources to deal with this. I own my own business, so taking the time away from work is not a problem. I have a background in communication, so talking to the various agencies and companies comes easily to me, particularly as it relates to the multitude of questions I’ve had. I am also lucky to have very good health insurance that will cover all of the cost of this very expensive treatment. But it makes me so angry to think of the many, many people who will not be so fortunate. While this may sound like a “first-world problem,” for me, for many others it is an ongoing, daily, life and death struggle to get their most basic right to quality health care.
While our elected leaders, both locally and in Washington, turn this issue into a political tug of war, real people, with real illness and other health problems, suffer daily. And the roller coaster we all ride while the battle rages on, is exhausting, disheartening and downright painful. Laws are enacted, amended and fought over. Hope is given, then ripped away. People do not have a shelf life. For every day that passes, children go without enough food or medicine while their parents sacrifice everything. The elderly struggle to understand a system that was not designed with them in mind. And those in the middle work hard to maintain the delicate balance between providing for themselves and those they love, and insolvency. It’s an unholy mess.
Yesterday I was chatting with someone several years older who has just reached the age for Medicare. She feels liberated and relieved. After years of paying high medical insurance premiums, she is finally “rewarded” with the small windfall Medicare will provide her. But what of all those years we all overpay for high deductibles and less than satisfactory coverage? Why must we wait for some date in the future to find relief? And what happens if some new administration decides Medicare should be scrapped in favor of some other, unrelated project? Not likely, perhaps, but what if?
If I sound angry, it’s because I am. In the current political climate, it appears nothing is sacred and no one is safe. This isn’t a good color on me, I know. But today it’s personal.