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ACCESS to Health!

Posted Aug 24 2009 10:51am

Where has the summer gone?   I’m afraid a good part of it seems to have been consumed by the craziness that' s swamping President Obama’s healthcare reform efforts.   While I can’t pretend to understand all of the issues involved, I know enough to be distressed by the insurance-orchestrated efforts to block even civil discussion about the way forward.   And anyone else with a history of eating disorders should be, too.

Why?   Because the current system allows insurance companies to act as gatekeepers to health care, and they will use every excuse they can find, including a history of eating disorders or related ailments, to block access.   That’s before we even get near the question of coverage specifics within an insurance plan – and as I’ve noted in previous blogs, few if any insurance policies cover the length of treatment that is actually needed to establish recovery from a serious eating disorder.

Here is what the President’s initiative is trying to do:

  • Reduce costs— Rising health care costs are crushing the budgets of governments, businesses, individuals, and families, and they must be brought under control

  • Guarantee choice— Every American must have the freedom to choose their plan and doctor – including the choice of a public insurance option

  • Ensure quality care for all— All Americans must have quality and affordable health care


All excellent goals, but for me, the priority is access.   Let me share my specifics to show you why I’m exercised, and why I think you should be, too.   Back in 1989, as a result of the punishment my body had endured during my eating/exercise disorder, I had surgery for a condition called avascular necrosis, which is a fancy name for dead bone in one ankle.   The surgery was not wholly successful, but twenty years later I can walk and swim and have required no further operations.   Otherwise I am in excellent health, with no risk factors for any other diseases.    My medical needs amount to about two office visits per year. Nevertheless, my ankle qualifies as a pre-existing condition that makes me practically uninsurable as a self-employed person.   I’ve been rejected by more than three insurance carriers after torturous application procedures.   The coverage I have, through a group plan with the Authors Guild, is both minimal and prohibitively expensive.   No vision, no dental, no chiropractors, etc.   And the cost is $25,000 for my coverage alone.  Assuming my doctor charges $100 per visit, that means the carrier is making a $24,800 profit on me every year. No wonder the insurance industry is opposed to reform!

Fortunately, my husband enjoys superb and affordable access to healthcare through the Government-run system of Medicare.   But the premium I am forced to pay is an outrage.   If I were single, I can assure you I would have no healthcare, since I could never afford this coverage on my writing income alone.

Make no mistake, this is an issue that affects all of us, regardless of our stage of health or recovery.   Even if you have coverage now through your school or employer, the current system will make it difficult for you to retain coverage after you graduate or if you should lose or leave your job.

So please visit to contact your elected representatives and urge them to demand ACCESS to health care for all.   The debate on the details will doubtless continue through the fall, but let’s get together and show our support for the process and our agreement on the need for change.



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