A Pre-Existing Condition Can Be a Death Sentence

Generally, as long as you maintain continuous coverage, you don’t have to worry about a pre-existing condition. The problem is, someone can lose a job. You could be in the hospital and forget a payment. A check could bounce, whether your own fault or the bank’s fault. Shit happens, and with insurance companies looking to dump expensive patients, they are not inclined to be helpful when it does.

But let us say this is not your problem. You manage, by some miracle, to be married to someone who has spectacular coverage through work, and the payments automatically come off their paycheck. They never lose their job, because the economy is perfect. You are fat and happy when it comes to your insurance.

However, the GOP has decided to turn everything into a high deductible/health care savings account plan, because they want you to take more ownership of your healthcare and shop around. Okay. That sounds great in theory. Let us put it into practice for a moment.

I have a pre-existing condition, a chronic illness. I cannot make it through a trip to the grocery store, so I rely on others to do the shopping, and I round it out with Amazon. Assuming my insurance company even allows me to have more than one option for blood tests and x-rays and other services, when am I going to need them? When I am sick enough to go to the doctor, right? I cannot shop around when I am feeling decent. When I’m at the doctor, I don’t give two shits about saving ten dollars. Take my blood, send it somewhere, and make me better.


Recently I saw a new doctor, and his job was to put a cortisone shot in my neck to hopefully rid me of the extreme pain I was in with spasms throughout my neck and in my face and head. The nurse said, which hospital would you prefer? I said, “Whichever one he can do first. I live 45 minutes from here. Every hospital is a drive.” I didn’t care where we went, I just wanted to be out of pain, as quickly as humanly possible. Imagine having low potassium-induced foot cramps in your temples…and trying to call around and compare prices. Fuck that shit. Seriously. I DON’T CARE. I am going where the doctor goes, and I am signing up for his first available appointment.

Another favorite of mine is letting the market take care of expensive drug costs. “Just boycott the drug company.” Oh, that is adorable. I take 25-30 pills per day to stay alive. Most are made by one manufacturer each. I don’t have the luxury of boycotting anyone. That is not how medicine works. With 1 in 10 persons having a rare disease, it won’t work that way for numerous people.

My point here is You cannot apply the principles of the free market of consumer goods and services to medical procedures – especially when you have a pre-existing condition. Medicine is not a luxury item, it is not a convenience. You don’t get it when you are in the mood, or save up once you decide you want it. And that is what these out of touch congressmen just do not understand.

I currently have a $3500 deductible with a second tier co-insurance to a $7500 out of pocket maximum. I generally hit the maximum around February. I’ve already hit the deductible for this year. (It’s family, but I’m gifted.) The HSA is tough, and it has taken us several years to save enough money to actually have what we need in January to not have to put most of it on credit cards.

However, if anything happens to my husband, or his job, I cannot fathom shopping for insurance. I can barely find a doctor to treat me. How the hell will I find an insurance company to volunteer for these expenditures that come with my pre-existing condition? Spoiler alert – I won’t. And I will die without the coverage. Every medication I take is a life or death, or life or quality of life drug.

Every doctor’s appointment is the same. I don’t go for fun, and neither do other chronically ill patients. We are not commodities. We are people, we are human beings, and we deserve to be treated as such. It should not be easier for me to carry a concealed gun in my state than for me to obtain and maintain a decent health insurance policy. But if the GOP has its way, it will be…by a long shot.

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