With all ears alert and most water cooler discussions based around the controversial subject of Health Care Reform in the U.S., I felt the need to address an issue that, to date, has gone unmentioned, along with a diatribe regarding a "regular family" and their experiences with the current system - the one that some may not want to alter....
Let me begin by discussing my concern over what appears to be (in my humble opinion) a well rounded and all inclusive reform package. One thing has been left unmentioned and apparently ignored for some time now... Legal Permanent Residents of the United States.
Legal Permanent Residents are "Green Card" holders who have entered and reside in this country legally, after spending thousands of dollars completing the immigration process. No, they are not citizens whether it be that they have not been legal residents for the required 3 years prior to applying for citizenship or, like myself, simply cannot afford the exorbitant fees associated with acquiring their citizenship status (remember, we have spent THOUSANDS of dollars to date obtaining our resident status). Legal Permanent Residents are working, tax paying members of the society who have undergone intensive background checks and have been permitted by the government to live in the United States for the rest of their lives providing they renew their personal information and pay yet more fees every 10 years until either they die, or they apply for citizenship.
I am not digressing from the stated topic as here is where the tale of the great void begins...
My family is a regular one, I am employed full time by my County in the field of education and my husband is a Foreman for a large painting company. We have an elementary school age son and like millions of fellow Americans, we have no heath insurance. Combined, we earn too much for Medicaid yet we earn too little to afford the coverage options offered through our respective employers. To clarify, the school district whom employs me offers a wonderful plan that would cost me $850 per month for a family coverage plan. My monthly paycheck after taxes and other deductions is $1100.00 - I also receive no wages during the months of summer vacation. Do the math! More than three quarters of my monthly paycheck!
As I stated, my husband employer offers a similar plan at a higher rate, therefore after he pays $245 per week in child support (for 2 children, one of whom is almost 19 and not in school - another story of an unfair system in need of repair), and taxes, he barely brings home enough money to pay our bills let alone to cover the insurance premium.
I understand that you may, at this point, think that the new health reform package would be a wonderfully advantageous "gift" to us, however here comes the interesting point....
2 years ago, my son was admitted to hospital for an emergency surgery. My husband was between jobs and we were trying to get by on my low income. Fortunately the financial consultants within the hospital were able to assist us in applying for Medicaid coverage that would enable us to pay the incredible bills that had accrued due to surgery and a 2 week stay at the hospital. Due to our income level at that time, we were accepted to the program. We did not have to face the catastrophic costs associated with our sons sudden and serious illness and my husband could now afford his critical $190 per month lifelong prescription medications.
There was one small flaw however... I was declined acceptance to the program as I was not a citizen of the United States! You may recall reading earlier that I pay taxes and am legally permitted BY THE GOVERNMENT to reside here. I even pay into Medicare/Medicaid through my deductions on my monthly paycheck! I discovered that I was paying for a service I would not be permitted to use!
I wish to share one further example of our typical family experience and then I shall not bore you any longer.
Moving forward to today, where we have no health insurance once more as we are both working (after my husbands extended unemployment of over 7 months with no unemployment, financial or medical assistance of any kind, during which time he could not afford his critical prescriptions and is now at a point where he cannot resume his regime as he has been without them for so long).....
I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism one year ago and am required to take one pill every day in order to maintain a properly functioning body. This is fine as my prescription is generic and costs me a mere $4 per month. HOWEVER.... Given that we have no health coverage, I cannot afford the $75 doctors visit every 2 months that is required for my doctor to test my blood and frequently raise my prescription dosage until I meet the safe TSH levels.
In May of last year my husband and I were thrilled to learn that we were being blessed with a second child - after our son was born almost 9 years ago we had been trying to conceive but to no avail - I was unable to conceive due to my long-undiagnosed thyroid condition.
Sadly, one week after this positive test result, I miscarried. According to my doctor, I miscarried because my thyroid levels were "off the chart" and that I had not been scheduling my necessary blood work appointments. We couldn't afford the visits and lab tests! I was told that until my levels are in the healthy range, I would not be able to carry a child and that I must be more proactive in the upkeep of my health. Yes, I know this, but I can't afford to be proactive in my healthcare! I was advised to contact an OBGYN where I would schedule a D&C in order to prevent infection or future complications. Needless to say, I never did. I have no insurance and can't afford to pay these out of pocket expenses!
My Levothyroxine pills are currently at the same dosage they were in May and will not be changing until I can find health care. Our hopes of a second child are dashed - because I have no health coverage.
I have not forgotten my original intent in sharing this with you.
President Obama, when you are reforming the health care system (or the lack thereof), would you keep in mind that there are millions of Legal Permanent Residents in this country, taxpayers, workers, educators, loyal members of the community.
We require the basic right of receiving health care!
Why should we pay for services that we will never be entitled to?
This is an enormous misjustice and one that need be addressed within any reform package you have the courage to promote.
It has been stated that Medicaid/Medicare will be left in a still recognizable state, but that WONT WORK. It needs to be changed to allow us access should we need it!
In closing, and without turning this into a discussion on another heated topic - immigration - I fear that this inexcusable indifference to Legal Permanent Residents may create a concensus of apathy toward following the law and obtaining a Green Card when we don't appear to receive any more rights than illegal immigrants!
Yes Mr. President, it IS "Time For CHANGE".
Scottish born, Legal Permanent Resident
and Proud to live, work and pay taxes in