Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care Costs and HIV

One of the most daunting aspects of having HIV today for me is not the virus itself, if you can imagine, but the worry that I could lose my health coverage and access to the life-saving medicines that have enabled my children and I to stay healthy and productive–driving the virus so low in our bloodstreams that the virus is rendered almost uninfectuous. I cannot imagine what would have become of us had it not been for our having health insurance. 

We did come close to losing our health care once, years back, when my husband was laid off at work and the health care that was provided through his employer was in danger of expiring. Had we not been able to secure an individual health care plan within the allotted time given, we would not only have lost our coverage, but also our ability to secure another policy due to mine and my children's pre-existing illness (HIV). I don't even know how to describe how helpless and frightening that was. 
HIV medicines and health coverage are very expensive and many people here in our own country cannot afford it. Each and every year the cost of our insurance goes up by the hundreds. There are no caps and no competition to drive the prices down. We have no choice but to pay it as without the medicine, we would die. I don't want to say that our health insurance carrier has tried to price us out of the game, we're fortunate in many aspects just to have it, but how many middle-income families do you know who have to pay  $1,900 dollars each and every month for their family's health care? On top of that, there are still the doctor and prescription co-pays that run anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars. There's a lot of money being made off of an illness that is now manageable–yet still incurable.

We've all heard the old adage, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." The problem though, is that our current system for health care isn't working for many American people. I'm hoping that the new health care bill passes today as it not only gives people like myself security and options, but also creates the necessary incentives for health-care companies, and big-business pharmaceuticals to grow more competitive with their pricing, as well. 

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M.R.J. Le Blanc said...

Wow, I can't imagine what that would be like. It's nice that you guys managed to stay so lucky, I wish others were so fortunate.

Positively Orphaned said...

This is a timely post for me. I'll email you.

Signe said...

Very good post. The costs to manage HIV are outrageous. The other problem with the current system is that you can't really compare prices, since the price varies depending on how you are paying. I have been shocked at the price of medications.

We have had the blessing of affordable insurance so far, but it is a concern that we have for our children.

Author and HIV/AIDS Advocate--S.Meredith said...

I agree!! I know that nothing is perfect and there's much to be ironed out, but a plan that stops insurance companies from price gouging and denying people and families with pre-existing conditions is a giant step in the right direction : )

Kirsten Lesko said...

Wow - what a terrible thing to have hanging over your head. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Another excellent and eye-opening post.