Life and death and Obamacare

Life and death and Obamacare

Posted in the Minneapolis Forum

Since: Apr 12

St. Paul, MN

#1 Apr 18, 2014
This is what Republicans have to answer for. This is what Republicans want to repeal. Meet Elizabeth Hand, a writer from Maine, who from January 1, 2001 until this February spent at least $60,000 in insurance premiums and medical costs for herself and two dependent children on a relatively cheap premium plan, with exceedingly high deductibles. She and her kids are on the whole pretty healthy, minus asthma and seasonal depression and for that they are among the lucky ones. But that was all that Hand took care of—the things already diagnosed. She relied on free clinics and health fairs for immunizations and basic screenings, and that was it.

Her health insurance premiums for herself and her one still dependent child went up to $466.35 this year, with a $15,000 deductible. So in February, she called the 800 number for HealthCare.gov . She found out she could get a plan with a $1,500 deductible for $51.56, and "started to cry." But that's not the remarkable part of the story, the life and death part. That started the next weekend when she saw an old friend at a party, and found out that the friend had had colon cancer. Hand is 57, and because her previous insurance wouldn't pay for it, had never had a colonoscopy. She got the name of her friend's doctor, and made her screening appointment.

A few Mondays ago, I finally had my colonoscopy. No, the prep wasn't fun, although the gallon of stuff I had to drink actually tasted pretty good (drinking it with a straw helps). During the procedure, a large polyp was removed. Or so I was told: I don't remember a thing. Afterward I went home and slept. Late the following afternoon, the doctor called.

"You were very, very lucky," he said. He sounded somber, and went on to explain that the kind of precancerous polyp he'd removed, and the place where he'd found it, were both indicative of a highly aggressive form of colon cancer.[…]

"If you hadn't had that colonoscopy when you did, and had that polyp removed, within a year you would have had cancer," he said. "Maybe two years. Maybe three."

He spoke to me for at least 20 minutes, explaining exactly what he'd done and the different kinds of polyps that could be found during screening. He also told me that while the recommended time between colonoscopies is usually five years, I would need to come back in six months. If that test looked clean, I could wait five years before the next one. I told him that one reason I'd made the appointment was because I finally had decent insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The other reason was Lorelei.

"I remember Lorelei," the doctor said thoughtfully. "You call her and tell her 'Thank you.'"

Hand will have to pay for part of that six-month follow-up colonoscopy, a small price to pay for avoiding aggressive colon cancer which she has avoided because the first procedure—the one where the polyp was found and removed—was covered entirely.

Repeal that, Republicans.

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