My friends over at MOMocrats have launched a series called, “Hear My Story” in an attempt to help get the stories of people who are struggling under the current health care system out in the open so others can see the importance and need for health care reform. This is my story.
I’ve had Kaiser for almost as long as I can remember. Except for the chunks of time when my dad was out of work or working under the table, we always had it. As an adult every job I ever worked here in the Bay Area offered Kaiser as an option and I always took it. My husband has been an independent contractor for close to 9 years now, so my insurance was always the only choice. Both my kids were born in Kaiser hospitals and have been seeing the same pediatrician since the day they were born.
After my daughter was born I made the decision to open up a daycare out of my home and work for myself. This would enable to be home with my kids instead of sending them back to daycare. The price of Cobra was OBSCENE so we made the decision to get our own private plan through Kaiser. This would be cheaper than cobra and cheaper then most of the other plans we had the chance to get.
In the years since making that choice our monthly premium has continued to go up and we eventually had to switch to a deductable plan. This means that until we reach $1,500 individually or $5,400 as a family we have to pay full price for everything. Office visits, tests, prescriptions. On top of paying $524 a month.
I went from paying $10 for birth control to almost $60. Last year my son got sick with a bronchial infection. We were prescribed an inhaler and antibiotics. The price? $300. Now my husband and I are both self-employed. We live week-to-week and just barley make it. When that sudden $300 bill popped up (not counting the $75 it cost for the office visit) in the middle of the rent week, we couldn’t pay it. Though that didn’t matter to the pharmacy, because they can’t bill you there. So if we couldn’t come up with the cash on the spot, we weren’t going to get the prescription.
I begged, though tears, for the pharmacist to bill me, but the system flat wouldn’t let her. She called my pediatrician and then sent me back down the hall to her office. I dragged my sick son back through the doctor’s office and explained the situation to the pediatrician. She rewrote the prescription for a different kind of inhaler and a lesser dose and was able to bring the bill down to $150. We still had to borrow against rent, but it wasn’t as big of a chunk as the $300.
That’s just one incident. We have a stack of bills for office visits that we can’t pay and are always a month behind paying our premium.
Our last year taxes show we make more than what Medicare will allow, even though as of next week I am no longer doing daycare. Not that we’d really want to switch, we love Kaiser. We just can’t afford it.
The kicker is that in San Francisco they have a city wide Health Plan. Thanks to Mayor Gavin Newsom, Kaiser is part of that plan. And we would qualify. If we were to live just 40 short minutes away, our Kaiser would be free.
They have options under their plan. They have choices and they are a better community because of it. We, as a nation, need options. We need affordable ones. I need to be able to deal with my children when they get sick without having to worry about how I’m going to pay for the antibiotics or even just an office visit. I need help.
I had private insurance paid for by an employer for years. Then one day I didn’t. I chose to start my own business. I chose to work at home so I could be with my kids. Why should I be penalized for those choices by not having an affordable option for health care?
Raise my taxes to pay for it I don’t care. It will still be cheaper than what I have to pay every month or each time someone in my family gets sick.