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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Universal Health Care - A Personal View

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

For the past couple of weeks, my family has been dealing with pinkeye. My son caught it with a vengeance two weeks ago, and for reasons which aren't clear, the first medication he used didn't clear things up within a week. So the doctor prescribed a different medication and made it very clear he should stay on it for a full week.

Only the drops ran out on Thursday, two days before the week was up (and coincidentally, the same day my daughter and I both caught it). So I took the morning off work to stay home with my daughter --- all schools and day cares require a child with pinkeye to stay home until they've been on antibiotics for 24 hours --- and picked up meds for her and for my son.

Except. When I arrived at the pharmacy, I was told that our insurance wouldn't pay for my son's meds, because I ordered a refill less than a week after filling the original prescription. The pharmacy hadn't bothered to fill the order, assuming I wouldn't want it. I was told I could pick it up on Saturday when my insurance would cover it again.

Now, there are a couple of reasons why waiting 2 days would have been a really bad idea. For one thing, given that my son had already had difficulty beating the disease, I didn't want it to come back. Like I said, when a child gets pinkeye, that child stays home, so the parent misses a day of work. Furthermore, any health care professional will tell you that it's a really bad idea to stop taking antibiotics sooner than the doctor recommends --- it creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

So, I explained very patiently that I needed the prescription immediately, and that I would pay full price. It was only an additional $34, and I can easily afford it. But it was an extra hassle at the pharmacy and it will be an extra hassle with our insurance getting our money back. An annoyance, but hardly life-altering.

But it could have been. If I were a single parent, it would have been a bit harder for me to cough up the extra $34, especially if I had a low-wage job. Especially because I would have already lost a day of work when my son first got sick, and another when my daughter got sick (as it was, I was able to split time with my wife).

And if I had no health insurance at all, which is the case for an estimated 46 million Americans, I would have paid full price for my kids' meds from the start. Only maybe I don't, because I can't really afford it, so I end up staying home with the kids and missing more than one day of work. Or possibly, because I can't afford to miss work, I send my kids to school without any medication, and other kids end up getting sick.

And of course, this scenario isn't limited to just pinkeye. Right now, thanks to the the Medicare 'donut hole' John Kline voted for, millions of seniors are responsible for 100% of their prescription drug costs, regardless of whether those are drugs to treat pinkeye or breast cancer.

Odds are, you're not entirely happy with your health care plan, either. It's possible you're among the 46 million uninsured, or the estimated 3 million who will fall into Medicare's donut hole this year. And if you're not, it's quite likely someone you know or someone in your family is. There is a health care crisis in this country. Coleen's solution is universal health care. I'm not sure John Kline has a solution; I don't see anything about it on his campaign web site.

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