Tag Archives: health care

An Open Letter to Lindsay Graham

Dear Mr. Graham,

I thank you for the response to the message I sent you regarding my concerns regarding your party’s intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act. You were the only of my Congressional representatives who responded at all, even if it was in form letter format.

However that letter, as is usually the case in these matters, left me dissatisfied in what the message you sent, most certainly intended to dissuade any concerns I may have. It failed to do so, mainly because I have been quite interested in the process of health care, insurance, and how it impacts us, the average resident of this country.

You state:

While the ACA did provide necessary health care coverage for some, it has failed others, leaving many Americans with increased premiums and decreased choice as health insurers flee the exchanges.

This is only partially true. The ACA provided health care coverage for some Americans, those who were not already covered by employer based coverage, or through Medicaid or Medicare, or most Americans. It also gave huge benefits to all people with any type of insurance coverage, by providing free screenings, immunizations and even some medications, like birth control. It allowed parents to cover their children for longer, quite beneficial if their child had a health condition that a lapse in insurance could be catastrophic. People in states who accepted the expanded Medicaid coverage saw decreased premiums and increased choice. Those of us in red states, or with GOP governors did not.

Which brings us to the desire of the GOP to give states greater control over our healthcare. South Carolina has never ranked high in many things that we can be proud about, healthcare is one of them. Thanks to the refusal of former Governor Haley, to accept the Medicaid expansion offered, many South Carolinians were shut out of opportunities for better and more affordable quality care. The rest of us have only seen a slight slow down in the cost of health care costs, and being priced out of services because of that cost.

I agree that the ACA did not keep prices down as advertised, but that is because, we the people have not been given a say in our health care cost, availability or even quality. I do not for one minute believe your statement that says:

I will work diligently to replace this bill with legislation that transfers power from Washington back to patients and the states.

Why? Because the states, and the patients haven’t had any control of this in decades. The ones who have been calling the shots in how our health care is managed has lain mostly in the hands of insurance companies, private for profit health entities, and pharmaceutical companies. It is they that dictate the costs, the types of care patients get, what is a covered service or item, and what isn’t. While things have improved in the past few decades, like maternity care not being an insurance rider that has to be pre-purchased so that having a baby is covered by insurance, much of health insurance has followed the same essential model since the 1990s.

If you truly want to reform, and truly want patients having more control, than it is time to rein in those who keep driving costs up. It is not us, It is not the states. It is Insurance, Pharmaceutical and for profit health companies that are making health care anything but affordable. Nation after nation has demonstrated how quality health care can be had for all its residents when profit is taken out of the equation.

We shouldn’t have to choose, as I and my husband both have, to do without medication till pay-day, or delay a needed health procedure because we can’t afford it, or dread getting the flu, because that trip to Urgent Care is going to kill our budget for the month. No one should have to worry about what happens if they get sick, or if they will lose their house when getting a diagnosis, or risking their lives, and stopping treatment,  because the prescribed treatment is as more than their house payment a month.

Change the ACA, improve it, make it work for all of us. You were given a great start by the passage of the ACA. By repealing it, you and your peers, put us all at risk.


Sylvie Parris

A copy of this has been sent to Senator Graham. I urge everyone to contact their representatives, and let them know how you feel about our healthcare system and its future. 

Sick Day

Monday night I started coming down with what apparently turned out to be a “fun” little intestinal virus. I thought that I felt the way that I did overnight because I’d had a snack of Cheez-Its right before bed. I’ve learned that eating right before bed is a sure way to kick in acid reflux at 2 a.m.

But I was wrong. I still felt pretty lousy yesterday morning, but I still got dressed and made the 30 minute commute to work. I’d had a small bowl of cereal with strawberries for breakfast and my stomach was yelling its displeasure all the way down the interstate.

I lasted 2 hours and told my supervisors I was taking my sick butt back to the house. I hoped all the way home that my gastric system would hold together till I made it to my own bathroom. It did, and straight to bed I went.

Now I generally allow myself 24 hours of sick time, if that when I come down with something. Being asthmatic with an immune system with a better vacation plan then mine, I do tend to pick up things more often then others. Normally I suffer through as best as can, and hopefully wait it out. I had intended on returning to work today, but as just sip of coffee made my stomach feel like a boulder was growing rapidly inside. I thought it best to give things one more day.

I’m not used to 48 hours of sick/down time. Yesterday was easy, I alternated between dozing, sipping Sierra Mist and switching between Property Virgins on HGTV and a What Not To Wear marathon on TLC. I attempted dinner, prepared by the spouse who tip-toed around me, and catered to my every whim, which were actually few. (I promise honey, I don’t bite when I’m sick, just whine and moan a bit)

Today, I felt a bit better, except when the thought of food was mentioned. I broke with tradition and took a second sick day. I’ve altered between laying down, trying to tackle the disaster that is my desk, flipping through channels, laying down, working on an essay that’s going nowhere, laying down again, and staring at the contents of the fridge before deciding it all looks un-appetizing.  In other words I’ve been bored!! Being sick on top of it, at least gives my body something to tackle, while my brain sings the Doom song from the Invader Zim television series.

So being bored, while still feeling peckish, I am sharing my state of being with you poor souls. Trust me considering how contagious this virus is, you should be thanking me. Well at least be thankful I am not in a more generous mood, and gracing you with my germ ridden presence.

And  you are welcome, all of you who either remember the Doom song, or have just had to Google it.  That song is tougher to get rid of then this virus.

I wonder if Judge Judy is on. Back to bed I go. Tomorrow I better be better. It’s a scheduled day off!!

I got questions…lots of questions

I know I’m not the only one talking about this, but being one of those who’s sees asking all those questions as a favored past time, I couldn’t quite let this go. I’ll return to lighter hearted topics soon.

I just don’ get it. States after state after state are trying to put laws on their books reducing or removing health services for women. Clinic after clinic serving women in low-income regions are being closed, forcing them to seek health care in greater distances. Tighter and tighter restrictions on just what women have access to is being proposed, everything from contraceptives to pre-natal testing.

The reason is simply because the people proposing these measures want to ensure that women find it harder to get abortions. I have to ask, what the hell are they thinking?

Ok, there are other questions, such as.

If mandatory ultrasounds are insisted upon if someone decides to get an abortion are the rule of the day, then how many women, not being able to afford that added procedure, will instead go underground choosing less safe, unregulated abortions? Will there be a rise in death tolls and health emergencies?

If clinics are closed because of loss of Title X and other health care funding for low-income families, will there be a rise in pregnancy complications due to lack of proper pre-natal care? Will more women find themselves discovering that lump too late, or discover that fibroid tumor had gone undetected far too long? Will medications or any form of birth control be out of more and more lower income women’s price range? How many ectopic pregnancies will be detected too late, correctable problems with either the baby or the mother goes undiscovered? How many serious complications or deaths will occur as a result?

Will the hoped for result of reduced abortions drive birth rates up? Is that something the proposers of these legislations really want? Do they want the higher cost of helping low-income women bringing a baby to term, and then raising them? Do they realize that these women losing access to birth control is a direct result of what will likely be an increase in the birth rates, AND the burden on an already burdened social services sector?

Do they not realize that a year’s supply of The Pill is vastly cheaper than bringing a baby to college age? Well any form of birth control for that matter? Do they not realize that in the quest to rid the nation of abortions that they are putting millions of women and children a risk?

Now I am not going to take a side on the whole abortion debate, other than to say if we want abortions reduced, this is a horrible way to go about it. If anything it may have the opposite effect and has a high potential for a lot more problems that have nothing to do with abortions. I would suspect that a lot of women agree, which leads me to these questions.

When are enough women going to get fed up enough to say enough? When are women going to inundate their congressional district offices with feedback on women’s health issues? When are we going to insist that when it comes to our health, politics and particular religious views needs to be considered AFTER considering that women just want to be healthy with the same freedoms of health options as the other half of our species? When are more women legislatures going to take a stand and refuse to take part in the removal of access to health care for all of us? Why do the religious preferences of an employer matter more than the religious or health preferences of a female staff member? Do these same employers also opt to deny insurance coverage for prostate exams, vasectomies or male enhancement medications? Why does one state want to charge sales tax on only prescription contraceptives and not on other medications?

I know that some of this stems from the idea of requiring all Americans to have some form of health coverage. Never mind that millions are already on government health insurance in the form of Medicare or Medicaid, millions of others have private insurance, “It’s just wrong to make sure there is something in place for all people”…To that I have to give a big old “huh”? I know that there are a few employers who may find that having women’s health issues on company insurance policies a bit distasteful from a religious perspective, but it is the women actually using the insurance right? Women, who may not have similar religious views, may use something like the Pill for reasons other than pregnancy prevention. I know that abortion is also a part of the debate in all of this, but what is happening to women’s health is an abortion. It’s a forceful attempt to remove all our choices, for easy and affordable access to pregnancy prevention, for easy and affordable access for women of all income levels to pre-natal, health screenings and post-natal care, from a voice at the table about our own bodies our own health, all because of a crusade to keep the option of abortion away from a small percentage of women of child-bearing age find themselves wanting or needing to end pregnancies for personal or health reasons.

Please, someone tell me the answers

The Hard Way

You know there are people out there where things just seem to fall right into place for them. Everything they own is in great working order, they can go on a diet and actually lose weight, they always look wonderful, their home is immaculate, when they do a project, they have all the tools handy. There is never the need to utter a single word of profanity because you just lost your contact lens while on an moving escalator. To top it all off, the bills are paid and they actually have money left over each paycheck.

Part of me is jealous of people like that, that is if they actually exist. Then I realize how boring and useless that kind of life could be.

I’m one of those people who wake up each morning and know with complete certainty that something is going to happen to make my day a little more bumpy. The daily question is, as I stumble towards my first cup of coffee , is exactly what will be hitting the fan today.

Today is of course no different.

This morning I went to a new dentist. I have dental insurance for the first time in two years, so I figured it was high time to get some plaque removed from my molars. I called my insurance carrier and discovered that there was a dental group about five minutes from my house. The only catch was that they took mostly kids. I didn’t really care, as dentists don’t generally make any money off of my mouth.

I get there, sign in and sit down to wait. I got out the romance novel I had picked up at the library. Why did I get such a book? They are always light on plot, heavy on throbbing. Oh, I know, the title caught my attention. I’m a sucker for catchy titles. So there I sat, flipping quickly through the unrealistic sex scenes in search of some decent dialog when my name was called.

“Ms. Galloway,” The desk attendant said. “There is a problem with your insurance.”

Crap. After a discussion with the insurance company, it was discovered that my policy had been cancelled, essentially the day it was supposed to be enacted. Double crap. I knew they had needed to make a change because of availability, but I had assumed (silly me) that everything had been arranged successfully. After all I’d been paying for the stuff all month long. So I rescheduled my appointment, then went home to email my HR department in hopes of solving my dental insurance mystery.

All that, just because I wanted clean teeth and gums. Why should have I expected anything different?

I remember being asked repeatedly as a child why I tended to do things the “hard way”. To me it wasn’t harder then another, it was just the way I saw worked for me. As I got older that doing things the “hard way” also taught me that life isn’t necessary easy. Just about every single day, something is going to happen to ensure my best laid plans going awry. I’m actually quite used to things happening “the hard way”.

For me, and I suspect for many of us, life done “the hard way” is rather ordinary.  In fact for most of us it has its very difficult periods. I certainly have lived through enough of those..and I wasn’t even trying. We get moments where things are wonderful, everything lines up perfectly in all aspects of our lives…then normalcy returns.

If I let it, things like the insurance coverage problem could cause me to fall into a deep funk. But I know it is a minor problem that will be resolved in a few days. I’ve lived through worse, much worse. Having it all, all the time, would be nice, but what is there to gain from it? What could I strive for, overcome, learn from if everything fell into my lap? How would I grow as a person if everything was easy? How could I have compassion for the hurting, a desire to help others need, a sense of sorrow for other’s loss if I myself never experienced it?

Those bumps, that doing the “hard way”, the unexpected turns of the day is what makes life interesting. I don’t talk much about my personal religious beliefs, as they are just that, personal, and is about as unique as I am. But I do know that my faith, my beliefs help me get through that grand quest that is called Sylvie’s Life. It took me awhile to grow into the role of seeker of the purpose of my life. However I think I may have an inkling of what that purpose is, and a glimmer of the how to accomplish it. But then, I may not.

It is in the living of life that seems to matter, with all its bumps, warts and impending pitfalls. It is the figuring things out, regrouping, trying another way, the successes that keep us interested in continuing on. It is in the living where we grow, we share, we encourage, we help, we heal. It is in the living where we learn how not to do things, maybe not for our own benefit, but for those that observe us. It is in the living, with all that life has to throw at us, good or bad, that makes it anything but boring or worse purposeless.

One of my favorite old movies is Auntie Mame starring Rosalyn Russell. In the film Mame tells her assistant, “Live, Live Live! Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

While the main character in that film took life a little to firmly by the horns, she lived her motto to the fullest. She looked at obstacles as opportunities. She learned from her mistakes, and she impacted the lives of everyone she met. Yes Mame Dennis was a fictional character, but the theme of her life has tempered the theme of mine.  I have no intention of starving.

Getting Stoned

There is nothing like spending several hours in the ER. You go there because you know something is very wrong with you, but you spend a rather large amount of time once there waiting till they figure out what to do with you. Meanwhile, you just hope they’d hurry up with a pain pill, or something to put you out of your misery.

That is where I found myself late Friday evening. I had been having some issues with my bladder, where I’d had experienced a little discomfort and increased feelings for the need to go with less then stellar results. I thought I was coming down with a possible bladder infection so I had upped my water intake and has purchased some cranberry pills to help. Apparently Cranberry is good for that sort of thing. The problem had been occurring off and on for about a week, so I didn’t really give it all that much thought, until late Friday evening.

The “need to pee” feeling had been going on for several hours by the time I had gotten home from work. I was hit by a sudden strong pain trying to address that need. I immediately knew what was occurring. Between short sessions of rolling in agony on my bed and throwing up into a trashcan, I was making phone calls, for someone to come get me, and to my family doctor for some panicked advice. I feel sorry for the person who handles the on calls for my doctor She got to hear my digestive distress, as I was trying to give her information.

Finally, after a seeming eternity, which was actually only about 20 minutes, my younger daughter showed up. She had been spending the evening with my older daughter. She loaded me up into her car and off to the hospital we went. After a few hours, it was confirmed that I had a kidney stone. They gave me some pills to get through the night, some prescriptions to fill, a referral to a urologist and a little strainer to catch whatever was causing the issue when it appeared.

Thankfully I am largely back to the original symptoms, but the stone, which I have dubbed Crystal Meth-od of Pain, has yet to make its appearance. It will show or it won’t, time will tell, that or my patience with that strainer will end.

I can now sympathize quite fully with anyone who has gone through the kidney stone dance. It is no fun at all, and it is an event that I hope to never have to repeat. It is of course a sign that, one I am getting older, (damn) and second, that I need to do a better job of taking care of myself. (where have I heard that before?)

I can also sympathize even more fully as to what a royal pain in the bladder dealing with insurance can be. I recently switched to new coverage after my divorce. There was some initial confusion with the switch, as my new insurance plan was held by the same company that my old insurance plan was held. When the intake person at the hospital informed me that my insurance had been rejected, I in my pain induced haze really didn’t care, I just wanted to feel better and to go home and sleep. She assured me that it being just after the first of the year that such things are common as insurance companies work to roll over patients into the new year. I would just have to call on Monday to clear things right up. You’d think that enrolling in health insurance plans months in advance would prevent things like that from happening, but apparently my scenario was pretty common, or so I thought.

So Monday morning, I call my insurance carrier,who informs me that I have no coverage. Giving my blood pressure a moment to lessen, I then call the HR department for the company I work for. They assure me that I do indeed have coverage. By this time I have my insurance company’s website pulled up and discover that according to them, my coverage ended the first of the year. What occurred over the space of the next ninety minutes was a series of conference calls between different segments of my company’s HR departments and my insurance carrier. I am usually on hold during most of the time, of which I spend the time going through my email, fuming and complaining on Facebook. Finally, I am informed that I am being reinstated but that it would take up to 72 hours to be reactivated. The cause? A glitch in the system. (where have I heard that before?)

I have friends in Canada who are quite sympathetic with my plight and listened patiently to my rant about the situation and the fact that the medical billing practice has become much less patient with those of us who are trying to pay medical expenses on reduced income, only to have them turned into collection services anyway, simply because you don’t have a payment schedule set up with them. They then inform me that there is no such problem like what we face here in the US with issues such as having to wait for medical care, or being overwhelmed by big medical expenses like what is happening to a lot of people in the US. They also inform me that they can walk into a doctor’s office or clinic, be seen in the matter of minutes and go home with no bills. Color me jealous.

I know we have great medical facilities and wonderful, talented and caring individuals who work in the field. It is just the frustration that many of us experience when dealing with medical costs. I can’t imagine not having insurance and having something like a kidney stone crop up. To trade stories with my friends from parts north shows what a contrast we have in health systems, and it makes me wonder why more people aren’t clamoring for a simpler system like they have in Canada. I of course don’t know all the details of their system, but it sounds pretty appealing.

That of course opens up the debate about the new health care legislation that is the process of being implemented. I believe that our president and all the people over the years who have worked to bring this legislation into reality are on the right track. What we have isn’t perfect by any means, but it is a start. If we want to bring health care costs down, then we need to make it more affordable. We need to make it so that people can afford to see a doctor for minor care and not fear being turned away because of lack of insurance only to end up at an ER, which is much more expensive then an office visit. We need insurance affordable for all income levels, and medical groups to work more compassionately with consumers who are trying to pay off a hospital stay on tight budgets. Hopefully that is what our federal government is hoping to achieve. (where have I heard that before?)