The View From Your Sickbed

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

One of the worst problems with the current healthcare system relative to the long-term health of the country is the millions of people, like myself, who are under-insured. I am 62 and retired from full-time employment three years ago.

I still work part time via internet for that same company and have a few other minor clients as a consultant, but, obviously my income is considerably lower than it once was, and prospects are not good for me maintaining even my current level of income over the next few years because of the recession.

My company had decent health insurance and I took full advantage of COBRA, but once that ran out the ONLY insurance I could get is a $5,000 deductible policy at more than double the price of the far, far better COBRA policy. The only reason I could get even that terrible coverage was because the insurance company was legally required to offer me coverage. As a result, I must postpone certain expensive preventive tests, such as the colonoscopy which is overdue. I simply cannot afford it.

I go to my primary care physician only when I feel I absolutely must (luckily my general health is quite good), and often do not go on to specialists that he might recommend for a condition he can't handle if it's something I judge I can live with (getting old is a bitch). I have a history of back and neck problems, minor skin cancers, and occasional Atrial Fibrillation. I can only hope that none of those conditions becomes acute before I qualify for Medicare, because any of them could bankrupt me.

 I've paid my insurance company well over $10k in the 20 months or so since I came off COBRA and have never gotten one cent in coverage payments from them. I hope I never do. Still, I realize that I am luckier than millions of others with no insurance at all.....At least I hope I am.