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Lack of Insurance and Self-Medication

Posted Sep 30 2010 10:39am

I’m witnessing first hand how desperately we’re in need of “good” healthcare reform.  I’m working with a guy in his mid-forties.  He’s overweight, has high blood pressure that he takes medication for, and is under a tremendous amount of stress. 

The other day at work he told me he was having heart palpitations.  He didn’t understand that what he was experiencing wasn’t a palpitation but an irregular heartbeat.  I asked him to call his doctor immediately.  The problem is he lives in Florida and we’re working in Texas.  It was a Sunday afternoon so I had him leave a message so they would get back to him first thing Monday morning.

He’s off on Monday, so on Tuesday he reported that he spoke with the Nurse Practitioner (NP) and she wanted him to come in for an EKG.  He told her he was out-of-town and that he’d call back in a few days.  He’s not going for an EKG locally because he doesn’t have insurance.  He’s hoping the NP will simply write a prescription for a new drug with different side-effects instead of checking to see if there are greater problems.

In addition, on his own, he’s changing the dosage of his medication.  All of this is frightening, but it’s indicative of a healthcare system that is so expensive that those without insurance will sacrifice their health, possibly their live because it’s too expensive.

Personally, I would never leave my house if I didn’t have health insurance.  I’m fortunate and grateful for the insurance I have.  I can’t imaging having to deal with a long-term health issue and potentially making sacrifices because each doctor visit or prescription meant possibly not making a mortgage payment, or putting food on the table.

I’m not sure what the solution is, but there’s got to be a better solution than what’s currently on the table.  I don’t believe the new healthcare reform will change all that much, and for people like my co-worker I don’t know that his ability to obtain reasonably priced healthcare will be in his future.

For those without insurance, many of the pharmaceutical companies have patient assistance programs.  If you need a low-cost or no cost doctor visit check a community based health clinic.  Many are funded to provide services to those who are uninsured.

Whatever you do, don’t play doctor.  Don’t self-medicate.  Don’t take it upon yourself to determine what tests you need or don’t need.  This is the time for you to make your voices heard because healthcare is vital to the sustainability of our culture.


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