Friday, August 14, 2009

Skywatch: Local Business Owner's Perspective

Local Business Owner's Perspective

Photo & Text Copyright 2009 Seattle Daily Photo. All rights reserved, including reproduction or republishing.

The owner of Seattle's popular Cupcake Royale sent me this email yesterday. With all the fearmongering and distortions around healthcare I've heard being disseminated as "talking points" by the strategists and lobbyists in big money's corner of this debate, I thought this local business person's perspective as shared with NBC Nightly News, CNN, and NPR was pretty candid and refreshing. I hope you'll check it out. . .it's brief where I tend to be wordy :-).

Many of you know my family faced the sudden onset of a nasty brain cancer that took my husband's life two years ago. A year and a half before this bad news struck, both of us had left full time employment and its attendant healthcare benefits in order to move to Seattle, return to school full time for 3 to 4 years, and launch into meaningful service work afterward. We each took part time jobs which offered no healthcare benefits, but we didn't risk going uninsured. We had purchased self-pay coverage for $560 per month/ $6720 per year for catastrophic insurance with a local HMO for our family of 3 thinking we'd be back to full time work with healthcare benefits offered by our new employers. Having catastrophic coverage meant we paid in full for all doctor or ER visits, pharmacy, labs, etc., but insurance would start covering hospital costs if catastrophe struck. Well, it did, without warning. Thankfully 90% of the neurosurgery and hospital costs were being picked up by insurance, but pharmacy was not, and chemo is not cheap. The cost worried my husband much more than facing his own mortality. He envisioned leaving us with no means to live on if he had to fight his disease for very long. He thought it a godsend that in his case chemo was for palliative measures with no hope for cure. What a thought for a dying man to be strapped with: die sooner so your family won't face financial ruin on top of your loss. Our HMO and doctors and nurses were fabulous, even working with a drug company to donate chemo pills, which brought my husband some peace of mind in the midst of his turmoil. We were absolutely blessed to have that catastrophic coverage. I know families with young kids where both parents have been laid off in this economic downturn, they can't afford COBRA, they are going without insurance, asking grandparents to help out with their kid's medical bills. We are talking two workers with master's degrees that own their own home. How much sharper must the edge feel for folks with a lot less margin for loss.

An ill friend of mine being treated right now shared recently that one of his monthly shots alone costs $1,400 each injection, and that's not even his main chemo med each month. He's in his 30s, has a wife and 3 kids, and thank goodness his small size employer offers healthcare coverage. They also have family and friends that would chip in if their co-pays became unmanageable. He is blessed. There are a phenominal number of people in this most highly resourced nation on the planet who will lose everything they have worked for when a family member becomes ill. I still work part time, go to school, and pay $402 per month / $4824 per year for my child and I to continue to have catastrophic coverage through our HMO. We pay $118 every time either of us walks into our doctor's office and for all medications and labs. Doctors' and nurses' salaries continue to decline nationwide, hospitals continue to be challenged by costs, but insurance companies never stop turning a ridiculous percentage of profit for their shareholders. They wield enormous power over all American's lives. I invite you to become better informed and do one small thing that you can do to help bring about the reform that will cover every American with affordable healthcare. CALL CONGRESS 1-877-264-4226, visit your congress person and senators' offices while they are home from DC this month and let them know your concerns. Take part in the genuine national discourse and stop shouting slogans at each other. Talk with your friends and family, listen thoughtfully, write letters to the editor, make your wisdom be heard above the din of the irrational misinformation and sensationalist talking points written by lobbyists. This is not a partisan issue, this is an issue America has because rampant greed has not been checked and balanced in the halls of our democracy. We must bring it into line. We only ever have now to do something meaningful for the good of the country and each other. I hope we all will do our parts.

It's Skywatch Friday, and the first gray rain clouds in two months have been giving Seattle nice showers the past couple days. Visit here to see the skies around the world today.

11 comments:

carolyn said...

Thank you, Kim. I've just cut & pasted the wonderful Cupcake Royale post on my facebook page.

The Glamorous Life said...

AMAZING site!
We just started ours....maybe you can come visit?

http://www.ocdailyphoto.typepad.com/

Its an Orange County Daily Photo...

Small City Scenes said...

Right on, Kim. It is so sad to know we all have horror stories to tell and the insurance and drug companies keep rolling over us. I feel overwhelmed at times. MB

Rich Webb said...

It's a crime against the people of this country that we have to have bake sales to help people manage a health crisis. I sent postcards to my two Senators (whom I expect to listen) and to my representative (whom I don't) asking for health care for all Americans.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and yes, health care!

Sympathies for all you had to go through. I cannot get my arms around your loss...

Don and Krise said...

Well written Kim. Many of us either have experienced this first hand or at least know someone who has. Thank you for the great links too. I'll be reading the Cupcake blog in greater depth for sure. Thank you.

cieldequimper said...

This is very touching to a Frenchwoman with one of the best healthcares in the world going down the drain due to lack of funding, an explosion in elderly people hence more need while less people work to fund the system. Finally, mismanagement (but hush, don't say it, it isn't politically correct.) I really hope you at last get a decent system too.
Sorry, my English doesn't seem to flow tonight.

Steve said...

Thanks so much for posting this article Kim. The owner of Cupcake Royale has been a terrific voice of reason at both the local and national level. This article is yet another sad story of how our system is failing us.

I am a member of the Community Acupuncture Network (www.communityacupuncturenetwork.org). Our 80+ independent clinics across the country have decided to ignore the insurance game and offer treatments at a low $15-$40 sliding scale. People pay what they can afford.

I'd like to see Western medicine follow a similar model, or better yet, have all basic care covered without additional cost to the patient. If we don't pay the considerable administrative costs involved in evaluating who should and should not get care, that leaves a lot of money on the table to provide medical services.

We all deserve affordable healthcare and we shouldn't have to bankrupt our families to get it.

Steve Knobler

brattcat said...

Thank you for this post, Kim. This is so important.

Kathi D said...

The healthcare situation is really shameful. Nobody should have to fear taking a sick child to the doctor because of money concerns, nor should anyone have to choose between medicine and food, and certainly a father and husband shouldn't be glad that he is going to die sooner and save his family from financial ruin. I don't anything about the logistics of how to make a new system work, but I'm for anyone willing to try.

Maya said...

Excellent post! I hope people listen.

Petrea said...

The evil of those who would serve themselves at the expense of the ill and dying is unspeakable. Let's make those calls.