This was a great week for thousands of Virginians who will benefit from Medicaid expansion. The vote shows that it is possible to pass bipartisan legislation — and it helped that Democrats have made strong advances in the Virginia statehouse.
We need to do the same in Congress. The Commonwealth Fund, whose mission is to improve health access and outcomes for all Americans, ranked the U.S. healthcare system last in an analysis of 11 developed countries even though we spend the most.
Those of us who buy individual insurance plans in Rappahannock have seen our choices go down as the costs go up. I opted for a relatively expensive plan in order to ensure coverage for basic (annual physical) as well as some ongoing health issues that have been treated by out-of-network doctors for years.
Despite that, every time I have even a basic procedure done, there is some sort of “surprise” out-of-pocket cost. For example, when I had a bone density scan, I called my provider and was told it would be covered — and it was. However, the cost of the radiologist reading the scan was not. I’m not alone. Whenever the topic comes up, many people chime in with similar experiences.
The danger of lack of adequate coverage hit very close to home when, following knee replacement surgery, my husband had life-threatening blood clots obstructing the vessels between his heart and lungs as well as impeding the functioning of his heart. His condition was considered “life threatening” by the doctors at UVA in Charlottesville and they performed a procedure in which they inserted a catheter with tubes through which they ran clot busting medication until the clots were sufficiently diminished.
Everything — emergency room, consults, hospital costs, doctors, follow-up — everything was covered by Medicare. By contrast, I would have at a minimum been faced with ER co-pays and a significant deductible.
There were so many things I was worried about — really terrified of — when my husband was in the hospital. However, because he is on Medicare, his not being able to get the best health care because we couldn’t afford it was not one of them.
Congress needs to follow Virginia’s lead in working across party lines to improve health care coverage for all Americans. We need to vote for representatives like Leslie Cockburn, who will support health care for all.