Monday, March 1, 2010

Cancelation Notice

("Why--Part 2" is still in the works.)

Today I canceled my private health insurance. I've held onto it since I stopped working in 2006, always expecting/hoping to be back to work within a few months. I'm glad I had it for the first 2.5 yrs, since I didn't qualify for Medicare until then and wouldn't have had any way to pay for my care. I have lived in constant fear of losing this policy, even though I've had Medicare for 1.5 yrs. (As soon as I go back to work I'll lose Medicare, and with our current disaster of a system, I'd be completely unable to get insurance at any price.)

When I bought the policy 6 yrs ago, the premiums were $143/month with a $2,500 annual deductible. It's gone up every year-- usually around 25% a year. I just got notice that it increased again to $725/mo with an annual deductible of $2,950. This represents a 400% in 6 yrs.

If I were still working as a chiropractor and raised my rates 400%, I'd be charging $1,000/hour. I could treat Oprah.

My insurance company (United Healthcare) was one of the top 3 companies reporting enormous profits in 2009. They gave their CEOs enormous bonuses, paid for by sick people living so far below the poverty line they can't even see it.

For the past year, my insurance has cost 84% of my Social Security Disability income--my only income. The stress of living like this has been crushing, to say the least. This weekend I conceded that there's no way I could afford such a monthly expense even if I were able to work.

I have Medicare and a Medicare assistance program called Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB). (QMB is for low income people.) Between the two, I have 100% coverage and premiums, etc... are paid for.

It was terrifying to make the call to cancel it. But now I feel like a huge burden has been lifted. I can finally relax a little and focus on getting well. I have no doubt this stress has allowed the Wegs to dig its flinty heels into my body more easily.

Well Wegs, be warned: I get more Rituxan starting Wednesday. I might just call and cancel you, too.