The Importance of Access

It is no surprise to my faithful readers here that I have a chronic health condition. I was often sick as a child, but as an adult I had pretty good health, until 2013, when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease. I know, I'm walking old ground with this, but bear with me. It is important for people to know that autoimmune diseases like RD, Lupus, and MS are very expensive to treat. My own experience is with Rheumatoid Disease.

I have been in treatment with biologics since 2015. Biologics are a new class of medication that work by blocking something called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) in the body. No, I can't be more specific than that, because I really don't understand myself. The best I can do is to say that the biologic meds I have taken have dampened my immune system so that it no longer attacks healthy tissue - well, at least for the most part. I've been treated with Enbrel, which worked for a short while, and now I am using Humira, which seems to be helping. Unfortunately, Humira is costly. I use three doses per month instead of the usual two, because my severe RD is complicated and difficult to treat. Each dose costs about $1350. Yeah, you read that right. No, I didn't leave out a decimal point. Yeah, that comes to $4050 a month, and more than $48,000 a year.

That is only one of the many medications I require in order to continue working and contributing to society, paying for my home and keeping my daughters fed and clothed. I take six other medications in varying dosage amounts; the final monthly tab for those plus the Humira is $4480. Needless to say, without health insurance, I'd be in a world of hurt. Literally.

I'm sharing this, not so anyone will feel sorry for me, but because it is important that people understand how expensive chronic diseases are to live with. I have great health insurance. I pay a lot for it; my coverage costs me about $300 a month. Better that than $4400, though, right? I mean, I could not come close to covering my own healthcare costs out of pocket. There are millions of people out there in America, just like me, who would probably die without their health insurance, because without it, they could not afford their lifesaving medications. So health insurance is a good thing. I think we can all agree on that.

Except some of us don't agree on that. And unfortunately, those are the people who are currently in power in the government. People who want to make it legal for states to allow insurers to refuse to cover some types of health conditions. People who are ok with life-time caps on the amount insurers pay out. People who think that maternity coverage is non-essential. I am willing to bet that most of the people who read this agree with me that health insurance is not only good, but necessary in today's world of out-of-control drug prices. And I think that most of those people would also say that access to health care - and let's face it, without insurance we don't HAVE access to health care - is a basic human right. If this is how you feel, I invite you to share your own health story with your senators, and explain to them that it is not right to enrich insurance companies and the already wealthy among us by robbing common people of their access to insurance and health care. They have to do better. They must create a bill that adds to the health insurance options already available, not one that deprives the most vulnerable among us of our right to care, and ultimately, our right to live.


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