Monday, February 20, 2012

Preparing for an Awesome Bonfire

This will be a catharsis of sorts.

The ten year anniversary of Andy's death is rapidly approaching. Over these years I have written many items regarding grief, recalled many happy and bittersweet memories, and poured out my emotions in general. One thing I haven't told is the awful story of the mountains of medical bills we dealt with, and how the walls kept closing in as I wrestled with the insurance company to make sure Andy received the benefits that my insurance was expected to cover; the medicines and treatments that were keeping him alive.

In addition to the anguish and fear we both felt as Andy slowly headed toward the light, I was also dealing with this:

These photos show the reason for my red-hot hatred of the insurance industry. It would not have upset me if these were statements of bills paid. No, that's not how it worked then, and that's not how it works today. These are piles and piles of denial letters and subsequent correspondence. These represent the bald-faced fact of health insurance companies...

They are not here to help us stay healthy or regain our health.

They are here to make a profit. Period.

At the time, I told my family and friends, "I am seeing the future of medical care and insurance, and it isn't pretty, folks."

We were a couple of the earliest baby-boomers to see what's in store for us if drastic changes aren't made. President Obama's new health care plan is a baby step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough. To prevent this from happening in YOUR future, we need a single payer system. For a system to make any family with a critically ill loved one have to go through this paperwork nightmare, to keep the patient receiving their treatments, is unconscionable.

During the next few days I will be posting a few of the insurance "highlights" that we went through. As recently as two years ago I wouldn't have been able to consider doing this. Even still, thumbing through this stuff makes the panic rise in my chest, and like invisible hands are wrapped around my throat, slowly suffocating me.

Maybe my story will help someone else.

I know it will help me to tell it.

At the end, I am going to mark the tenth anniversary of Andy's death with a lovely bonfire. I wish it were that easy to burn up all the bad memories.

But it's a start.


M Kellhofer said...

Thank you for speaking out the truth. I know it must have been hard. I still have things about when Chuck was sick that make "the panic rise in my chest, and like invisible hands are wrapped around my throat, slowly suffocating me." I hope that verbalizing some of these things brings you a measure of peace, and I pray that your words may find open hearts and minds where they may prompt some to step up to fight for a better, more humaine healthcare system in this country.

Stella said...

Thank you so much for your kind words! As I go through these papers, I am becoming angrier. I am so sad for the me of ten years ago, and for everyone who is going through this now. I wish I had possessed the energy to publicize this back when it was happening, but I was crushed under the huge weight of grief and exhaustion. Just wait until you read the items during my next few days of posting, you won't believe it. I can barely believe it, and I lived it!!!

Alicia said...

What you said. And what Mindy said. And oh, I love you guys so much.

Jim Bentley said...

Mom - I think this is right on the money. And to have an RN call the insurance industry out on this adds a great deal of weight in my candid, but undoubtedly biased, opinion. It's not like you didn't have a grasp on the health-care system.

I feel bad for people who have to go through this who don't.

I remember, and I love you,

Stella said...

(((HUGS))) and thanks. Feel free to share any of this. Nobody was listening then, will they listen now?

Nah, probably not. Only the people who love me listen, and with them I am preaching to the choir.

But at least I have my "choir" to preach to. Many people have to suffer alone.

Kathy said...

The Congressmen and Senators who are supposed to be working for us (they are our employees, since they chose a service profession)are pandering to the insurance companies. They claim that the people want choices. The fact of the matter is we already have no choices. Our employers decide what insurance companies they will work with. Then the insurance companies choose what hospitals we can go to and which doctors we can see (they call it a network, if you go out of the network "sorry Charlie"). Then the same insurance company make a profit by collecting our premiums and then denying our legitimate claims. And all the while our congressmen and senators enjoy the benefits of a one payer system that covers all of their medical bills paid for by our tax dollars. Why won't they let us have the same thing?

Alicia said...

In your response to Mindy, you wrote, I am so sad for the me of ten years ago, and for everyone who is going through this now. I think that's why I keep my own blog going: For those who are going through it now. Every month one or two new people post a comment thanking me for giving them hope that they, too, can get through their nightmare.

And I thank you for being one of the people who showed me that it was possible. I'm glad I didn't know then that 10 years later you'd still be picking up the pieces -- but even so...