Like many others around the country, on Wednesday night, I watched President Obama’s address to Congress regarding health care with interest.
For our entire married life, which equals our entire adult life, Doug & I have always had insurance through his work. While at Shure, we got used to the fact that every year, our insurance changed according to who the company could get the best rates from. Then in 2007, Doug was laid off from Shure and the real fun began. We spent the next several months on Cobra insurance until Doug found a permanent employer at 8th Light, a small start up company that at the time, employed only 5 people.
Initially, insurance at 8th Light was something we didn’t give much thought to. That changed last year when the company decided they should be able to get a cheaper rate than what they had been paying due to the age and overall health of the people they employ.
After much research, the decision was made that each 8th Light employee would obtain their own insurance policy and that 8th Light would then kick in half the money. The idea was that in the long run, this would save everyone – the company & individuals – money.
Though it was a nice thought, in reality, the stress of having to find our own health insurance was huge. Considering Doug & I are both healthy, I cannot even begin to imagine what this process would be like for anyone that has had any major medical problems in their history. In the past 5 years, Doug has had two incidents – one that landed him in the emergency room and one that caused a doctor to run a routine test on him. But because of these incidents, someone from the insurance company called and interrogated him about both before granting us insurance. For me, the bigger concern was maternity coverage. In order to be fully covered by an insurance company on an individual policy, you have to have had that policy for 1 year before getting pregnant. This just seems absurd to me! I mean, even with the best of planning, sometimes pregnancies happen. And then what? The insurance won’t cover you because you haven’t had the policy long enough?
Despite our reservations, eventually we settled on an individual policy that had a pretty high deductible and utilized a health savings account, an idea which we have come to really like.
Shortly thereafter, though, we learned that because the policies were technically individual, 8th Light could not legally contribute to them. As a result, we were left paying for our insurance entirely on our own for several months before 8th Light worked out a solution and got us back on a group policy, though now the group is limited only to 8th Light employees and their families. At the time, everyone breathed a deep sigh of relief, but since then, several people in the company have had major medical problems, leaving us to wonder: What will happen when it’s time to renegotiate our rates? Will the premiums drastically increase? And if so, then what?
This experience with insurance has left me convinced that our system does, in fact, need to be reformed, though I am still unsure how.
What I do know is this: I believe that health care is a human right, especially in a country as wealthy as ours. It is truly an injustice that so many people lack health insurance and therefore access to quality health care in our country.
I was struck by the fact that during the coverage leading up to the President’s address, one of the statistics that was given is that 90% of the Americans who vote have health insurance. If that statistic is truly accurate, than who among is looking out for those who do not have health insurance? As Rob Bell says in his book, “Jesus Wants to Save Christians,” “If you have power, it can be hard to understand the voice of those who have no power. If you have choices, options, or luxuries, it can be hard to fathom the anger of those who don’t.”
For that reason, I applaud the courage of President Obama, Senator Kennedy, and others who have and are fighting this issue with such strength and passion. My hope and prayer is that they will succeed in reforming our health care system and in providing security and stability to those with health insurance and an option for those who lack it. In the meantime, I also pray that neither I nor anyone I love gets sick.