Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Note on Health Care Reform

My nine-year-old son has a pre-existing condition.  He's had it since birth.  It's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).  It's incurable and it's steadily degenerative.

Through no fault of his own, I lost my job sometime ago.  Through no fault of his own, I could not afford COBRA payments, which for a family of four were on par with our modest monthly mortgage payments. Through no fault of his own, I was ignorant of the fact that social services may have been able to provide my kids insurance until well after 61 days from the lapse of the last insurance.  Finally, through no fault of his own, now that I am employed again and soon to hold group health insurance through my employer, I am told that my son's disease will be considered a pre-existing condition for the next twelve months.

What does this mean?  If my son should fall and break his wrist, perhaps this new injury will be covered. He falls down more frequently these days, though---a natural symptom of the progression of his disease.  The next clinic visit might well prescribe the use of a wheelchair as needed to keep him comfortable and to offset such risks, but neither that clinic visit (wherein we see a neurologist, a cardiologist, a pulmonary specialist, a physiatrist, and so forth) nor the wheelchair itself would be covered by our health coverage. He's outgrown the splints he wears at night to keep his heels stretched and flexible, keeping him balanced and on his feet longer.  His last pair, which were necessarily custom made to fit him, were covered 100% by insurance, a cost of over $2-thousand---more than a mortgage payment; the next pair will likely not be covered at all.

I suspect I will earn too much for my son to qualify for state or federal help, but it may not be enough to support a very modest lifestyle and pay for his specialists and necessary equipment.

... and again, it's through no fault of his own. After all, he's only nine years old.

In our case, perhaps the Muscular Dystrophy Association will lend support---we'll certainly ask---but I can't help but wonder about the other families, the other children, and the other “pre-existing conditions” that do not have the backing of an organization such as the MDA.

It is America, after all, and in theory my family and every other family has the opportunity to climb to such heights and to achieve such wealth that items such as medical plans are trivial nuisances. I wish everyone this success.  However, there is that time between now and then...

Fortunately,  it is America, so when the People come together there can be great wisdom in the decisions made on the society's behalf.  I hope the People have the courage to speak, that our Representatives have the clarity to hear and wisdom to act, and that Society has the benefit of the response.

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