General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do you have health insurance? What do you do if you don't?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) October 28th, 2010

Bipolar disorder disables a lot of people who have the illness. They may struggle on with part time jobs and what not, but they don’t have health insurance. They might try medicaid, but if they have a job, they aren’t eligible. There are a host of other programs, but how do you find out about them?

Last night at my group meeting, we had a bunch of new people and they all didn’t have health insurance. So none of them could be diagnosed, or get a prescription for meds. They couldn’t afford it. They had to be admitted to a hospital as an indigent in order to get care.

This kind of thing makes me so angry. I can’t begin to tell you. And here I sit, very lucky to have good insurance through my employer. I was so lucky that I never had to miss a day of work throughout my illness. Most of my friends lost not just jobs and insurance, but families and homes, too. It makes me sick!

Do you have health insurance? If not, what do you do when you get sick? Do you think health care reform will help you? When? Will it survive the return of the Republicans?

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34 Answers

Ivy's avatar

I haven’t had medical insurance in twenty years. I try to take care of myself, and save what I can in case I break something ~ which I have, twice. If heath reform has helped me, I’m not aware of it, and I’ve done a little research. Is it helping others? I’ve heard politicians and pundits say it is, but no one else is saying that. There is an up side, though. It’s kept me out of the clutches of drug-and- knife-happy doctors, and greedy and corrupt insurance companies.

john65pennington's avatar

I truly find it hard to believe that a person suspected of being bipolar cannot receive the medical attention they need. i guess i see this strictly from a police officers point of view. i have taken many people to cisis centers, where they receive the medical attention they needed. if you are a menatlly or sick person, there is always an agency that will help. insurance or no insurance. start with UGF.

JustmeAman's avatar

I don’t think it is helping anyone and I really don’t think the health plan will succeed. I have health insurance but the new rules due to the National Health Plan is causing my rates to go up and what the insurance pays to go down. My deductable is now $1000 for hospital visits and it used to be $50.

wundayatta's avatar

@john65pennington I’m just going on what they said. In fact, at the meeting, they were informed of several options they didn’t know about. But don’t forget, if you’re sick and you’re poor and you have no money, then when you get depressed, you don’t even think you are worth taking care of. And there are plenty of people with other medical conditions that don’t get police attention who are in the same boat. And not all people with bipolar act crazy.

Scooby's avatar

In England we have the NHS, they do what they can :-/

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s fucked up, isn’t it? Makes me incensed. I’ve always had health insurance, thankfully and when I didn’t, I got married for it.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, it’s sad that so many countries in the world are inherently wealthy, but neither civilized nor moral enough as a society, to ensure the basic needs of the population are met.

But I mean, at least America hasn’t gone backwards (yet). It just moves forward really slowly.

DominicX's avatar

I do, through my parents, and I’ve always had it. I still support health care reform, though.

GracieT's avatar

@wundayatta, WONDERFUL question! I have discovered thanks to having a mental illness how ashamed I am to be an American. When I first had my injury, I lived at home and my dad paid for everything. Then I got married, my husband worked for the state and we had amazing health insurance. Now Don works for himself, but we still have insurance through the Chamber of Commerce. It isn’t as good as state, but it at least is halfway decent. I won my Social Security Disability case, so now I am also on Medicare. I am one of the lucky ones. I would love to be able to live in Canada or in Great Britian, but I doubt that either would let me immigrate. My medicine alone now is only $200 every three months, but if I went on Medicare alone it would jump about to about $600 for three months. I know someone who is also on Medicare and her medicine is over $700 a month. Again, I am one of the lucky ones. I am fortunate, and I am taken care of financially, but I cannot imagine how it would be if I had no insurance. I have heard of and I know people who have absolutly no insurance. I admire them for making it and I cannot imagine how I would handle things if I were in their situation.

The_Idler's avatar

@GracieT Have you ever looked into moving to the UK? It seems we take anyone. That’s why our system is at breaking point.

Then again, the price of your labour probably doesn’t make it worthwhile to big-business, so there’s no incentive for the Govt to let you in.

Brian1946's avatar

I have health insurance.

Thanks to my union (Communications Workers of America), AT&T pays all but $47.58 of my monthly premiums.

downtide's avatar

As a citizen of the UK, it just boggles me that people can’t get any kind of medical care at all simply because they can’t afford it. I just don’t get it, in what’s supposed to be a civillised country.

What would happen in a life-threatening situation, if you have no insurance? Suppose you had an aggressive cancer, or you were involved in a serious road accident, or developed diabetes and needed insulin? What happens in cases like that with ununsured people? Are they just left to die at home?

JustmeAman's avatar

I can tell you I was turned down for some tests on my 24/7 pain because my insurance made a mistake and had not posted my deductable that I had paid. It took me several weeks to get it straightened out and then I was denied again because the hospital had not yet posted it. Today I finally got the tests done.

The_Idler's avatar

@downtide IIRC, they are treated, and get to live under a mountain of debt.

And who said America is supposed to be civilized?
Apart from the Americans, obviously, they are biased. They just have internationally loud voices for being so rich.

Seaofclouds's avatar

We have insurance through the military. Before my husband and I got married, I had insurance through my work. There was a time after my parents insurance stopped covering me that I didn’t have any insurance. I just didn’t go to the doctors at all and luckily I didn’t have any emergencies during that time.

tranquilsea's avatar

I have insurance because I live in Canada. All my treatments for any illnesses, mental or physical, are covered with a few exceptions. Our politicians are trying to line up to privatize our health care. So far they haven’t gotten far because the vast majority of Canadians don’t want that to happen. I am hoping that ongoing propaganda towards privatization will not ultimately sway the electorate’s collective mind.

The system of health care in the U.S. boggles my mind.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@downtide I agree 100%, it’s something I don’t understand either. Whilst there are many people that slate the NHS I feel so privilaged to have free healthcare.

flutherother's avatar

I lived in the USA for a time with no health cover and though I am healthy I felt uneasy about it and dreaded falling ill or having an accident. American healthcare and hospitals are first class but useless if they won’t treat you. I found the system over there to be heartless and cruel and so for all it faults I am glad to be back with the NHS.

Blondesjon's avatar

No.

I simply don’t get injured or sick.

Flavio's avatar

I am a psychiatrist and I take care mostly of uninsured folks through San Francisco’s county mental health system and through the VA. Healthcare reform will help, but most of the meaty provisions will only take effect in 2014 if the Republicans dont wreck it.

What you describe is truly really hard. If you are located in a major city (LA, NY, SF, Chicago, Philly, DC, Boston….) there are services (likely because Democrats have been long in charge and services get funding). In these cities, if you can maneuver the initial intake bureaucracy and waitlist, you will get excellent, academic-level care. If you are not in these cities, it depends on how your state structures its medicaid program and its community mental health safetynet. If you provide more details, I may be able to give you more specific thoughts. Regardless of where you live though, it is very hard.

lillycoyote's avatar

When my COBRA benefits ran out I had 63 days to convert it to individual health insurance without being denied but the premium would have been $1000 a month. There was just no way I could afford that so the 63 day period where I couldn’t be denied coverage expired. I tried to apply for individual insurance after that a couple of times but was denied for preexisting conditions. I haven’t had health insurance for 3½ years. It’s been very scary to know that if I got really sick I could possibly lose my house, everything. I am now in the process of applying through the new federal program. It went into effect in July/August and is really the first big step to be implemented after the passage of the Health Care bill. That was really the only thing standing between me and having health insurance, the preexisting conditions and the cost of this insurance is well below $1000. This particular program is only for people who have been denied individual health insurance though. If you go here you can get information about how it works in your state. Some states have or are now running their own hight risk pools and other states, like mine, have opted into the federal program.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

No health insurance for me right now, and I’ve been needing to go to the doctor’s. But I just don’t, because I can’t afford it. I tried to get on my state’s health plan, but I wasn’t able to.

lillycoyote's avatar

@DrasticDreamer When did you try to get insurance through your state’s plan and why couldn’t you get it, if you don’t mind me asking?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@lillycoyote Because there are so many people who need it right now, basically. They’re randomly drawing names. My name was drawn, but I couldn’t end up doing it because I wasn’t a full-time student at the time (I switched to part-time due to my best friend’s suicide), but they said I’d only get it if I switched back to full-time. The thing is, even then, there was no guarantee since it’s all random.

Edit: I forgot to add that it was only two to three months ago.

YARNLADY's avatar

Both my adult grandsons and my son and his wife have no insurance. If anything were to happen to them, I have no idea what would happen.

The oldest one would be eligible for disability if he would apply for it, because he has Marfan, but he just fakes being OK and keeps his pain to himself. He’s afraid if he says anything, they will make him have an operation on his back.

If there was a life threatening emergency, the hospital would have to treat them, but for all the other things, they just do without.

The two toddler grandsons are currently covered under a Medicare for children plan. It covers their shots and other preventative care.

My oldest son lives in Sweden. When he had a severe stroke three years ago, he was rushed to the hospital, treated, given months of physical therapy, a personal attendant while he needed it and a free apartment. When he was sufficiently recovered, they arranged for a part-time job. When he tripped over the cat and broke his femur, he was, again, hospitalized, treated, given weeks of physical therapy, personal attendants. Now the disability department has again found a part-time job for him.

If it had happened to him in the U.S. while he was unemployed, he would have died.

lillycoyote's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I would check this. It’s the same site I mentioned above but it’s only in the past two or three months that some of the provisions in the health care reform legislation have come into effect.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@lillycoyote Awesome, thank you. :)

wundayatta's avatar

The uncompensated care system just drives up health care costs. Others have pointed out that because they have no insurance, they just do without. Of course, when things are life-threatening, that’s when they will go. Take the example someone mentioned above: of someone with cancer. Since they don’t get annual screenings, they won’t go for care until the symptoms are really bad. By that time, the cancer may well have metastasized. They might get all kinds of very expensive care, but for nought. So many other conditions can be so much more expensive to care for because the patient gets care much later in the life cycle of the condition.

A couple of things happen as a result of delaying care. The patients are much sicker, and the cost of care is much higher. The hospital will bill the patient, but the patient won’t be able to pay. Instead, they’ll go bankrupt, leaving the hospital unpaid. Sort of. Actually, because they expect a certain level of uncompensated care, they shift those costs over to Medicaid, Medicare and Privately insured patients as best they can. These are ongoing negotiations over prices, with all kinds of games going on that hurt patients just so hospital profits can be maximized.

When I was doing health policy work, I think that the amount of savings possible if patients were treated early on, instead of when it was life-threatening was some ridiculous amount—like thirty to fifty percent. With the recession, I’m sure the figure had gone up, but now people are focused on the recession, not on health care, so there is a danger that health care “reform” might get scuttled by the Republicans.

The only way we can save costs in health care the Republican way is if we eliminate the mandate for hospitals to provide care in life threatening or other situations for those who can’t pay. Then the “free” market has a chance. Of course, lots of people will die, but Republicans don’t care about that kind of thing. Or maybe they have blinders on and don’t believe it will happen.

Anyway, if they don’t propose to eliminate the care mandate, then any claims of supporting the free market are false. In which case, I have no idea what they would propose, nor why they would propose it.

My main point, I think, is that we are all in this together. The increased costs of care get shifted onto us when providers charge insurers more due to a higher level of uncompensated care. Insurers pass that on to us in the form of higher premiums and greater expenses for Medicare and Medicaid, which means higher taxes.

By allowing there to be uninsured people, we raise the overall cost of health care in this nation, and then we pay for it. All in the name of supposed private enterprise. What it really is is that insurers are essentially being guaranteed a profit (on an overall industry level, not for individual insurers) for insuring healthy people, while we pay higher taxes to insure poorer, sicker people. In other words, votes against universal insurance are essentially votes for higher taxes.

Blueroses's avatar

Get me started on this… For chronic pain I was finally “granted” the right to an MRI (having paid the max deductible) It showed a “shadow” that might be something or might be operator error. My insurance did not allow a repeat MRI. Basically; fight us until you give up or die. We don’t care which.
When I fought, my coverage was sold – much like a mortgage – to another company forcing me to start again at building the deductible.
Indigents may well be better off than those of us who pay for health insurance.
Insurance/healthcare reform?
Yes, please!

tranquilsea's avatar

All of these posts make me extremely thankful I live in Canada. While we have problems with waiting times all care is triaged. If you are that sick you are going to be seen asap.

The_Idler's avatar

@Blondesjon
“No.

I simply don’t get injured or sick.”

Do you also simply invincible to DUI hit and runs, cancer & old age?

Blondesjon's avatar

@The_Idler . . . Yes?

i generally recommend kryptonite if you’re lookin’ to do some harm

Response moderated (Spam)
GracieT's avatar

I THANK GOD everyday that I finally won Social Security Disability! If it wasn’t for that I would live in constant fear that my husband would die or we would divorce before I was old enough to receive Social Security. My Brain Injury makes it impossible for me, a US resident, to buy insurance on my own. Medicare is not even close to good insurance but it’s better than nothing. I would so love to move to a country with Nationalized Health Insurance but as an immigrant unable to work I would not be eligible. Until the US leaves the dark ages, joins civilization, and begins our own Nationalized Health Care, I’m forced to live with what I can get.

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