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More health care anecdotes from the valley

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published September 13, 2009

The following are more anecdotes on health care challenges from valley residents. It's a continuation of my Sunday column.

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I did not have any difficulties until after I had been diagnosed with cancer. When insurance companies were changed (whether my choice or my employer’s), the pre-existing condition caused much time and effort to ensure coverage. And sometimes it was not covered and I paid extra out-of-pocket expenses when I shouln’t have.

***
A nurse:
I am a healthcare worker, yet have no insurance and can’t afford to see the doctor. I don’t have a permanent job. I work per diem because that is all I can find right now. The insurance coverage I could get, I can’t afford. I also have a colostomy and need appliances to keep it maintained. I can’t afford them. I have contacted several places and need a doctor to sign an application to get them from the company. What doctor? I can’t afford to see the doctor.

***
Approximately two and a half years ago my wife was diagnosed with uterine cancer and required surgery. Last year she had a mini stroke that required more surgery and shortly after that she discovered a lump in her breast which turned out to be cancerous so she had a lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy which shortly after that spread to her lung which required yet another surgery. And of course, she had to have radiation therapy and now she is undergoing chemotherapy every 3 weeks. The place I was employed at (American Standard Salem) has me permanently laid off. I did pick up the COBRA continuation coverage which will run out before her Chemotherapy treatments end. Because of all her medical problems over! the past few years, health insurance coverage for her will be prohibitively expensive! We have to have it but how will we afford it? I am 61 years old and unemployed. The chances of me finding a decent job with good health coverage are virtually non-existent! I am currently in school and being retrained in another field hoping this will help our situation but because of my age, I am not holding my breath

***
One thing I can say is that my daughter was removed from my coverage just because she turned 19 and now has no insurance. There is no reason why age, pre-existing conditions etc should be a reason in this nation why a person cannot get quality care and coverage. Almost every industrialized nation manages to accomplish this except us and their health statistics blow ours out of the water.

***
I am a cancer survivor who would not be alive today if it were not that I had health coverage. I told my wife that I would do everything I could to see that all Americans be given access to what saved my life.

***
I am a cancer patient and if not for all the tests prescribed by my wonderful local physicians I would not be alive today. They were not concerned about my age. Not only did I not have to wait f! or treatment but currently and continually am being checked. Hopefully I will not be knocked off the board by government officials who might conclude that these check ups which include Cat Scans, MRI's, 3 month blood tests be the WASTE about which the President speaks.  Millions of seniors are frightened because we are the target for footing the bill. We are still vital to the community.  We remain an integral part of our families and with the help of continued health care, have years to live and to give.

***
My wife was let go from a job just after having a heart procedure.  We could not afford the Cobra coverage at the time.  When we could afford coverage later, she was turned down by every company we applied to even when I asked about "catastrophic" coverage with a huge deductible.  They just didn't want to hear it.  Thankfully we have doctors who “work" with us on rates. I use VA facilities and I have to say I am very impressed with the care I have received. The horror stories you hear about VA care certainly don't apply to me. The Youngstown clinic and the Wade Park hospital in Cleveland are top-notch in my opinion. If, and that is a big IF, a government run system would work as well as the VA works for me, it would be the solution for millions of Americans.

***
My daughter has thyroid cancer. She has had two surgeries and radioactive iodine treatments. While her prognosis is still good, she still has cancer and needs ongoing treatment. Fortunately she has been covered as a dependent on my husband’s health insurance through his employer, has received excellent care while in Ohio, with very little expense to us. She is currently a graduate student in North Carolina. Many of the same procedures covered in Ohio have not been covered in NC and our out of pocket expenses have increased. Also, in approximately one year, she will no longer be eligible for coverage on our policy. With her preexisting condition, she will have difficulty finding an insurance company to cover her and if she does, the premiums will be unaffordable and prohibitive.


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