God Bless You, LBJ

I became eligible for Medicare in July, 2015 and enrolled shortly after. It turned out to be one of the best days of my life!

Prior to that time, I had been buying insurance on the “free market”–nothing free about it, if you ask me! I’ll give you my feelings about free market insurance after a little historical context.

I’d been self-employed most of my life. In college–during the Ice Age–at the University of Washington, in Seattle, WA, all students were covered and could use the Health Facilities for free. I went a few times for minor illnesses.

After college, I joined Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. It cost a little over $20 a month–back in the ’70s. For that we got all medical and drug expenses for FREE. Let me make sure you understand: There were NO co-pays or deductibles. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, over the years, that idyllic version of American health care disappeared. By the time I was in my 50′s, health insurance has soared to $500-$600 + a month (just for me) and the deductibles were insane. I wanted to get a colonoscopy in my 50s, as was recommended by my MD. I called my insurance company to find my co-pay and found it was $1,000! Needless to say, that colonoscopy didn’t happened until I was covered by Medicare.

When President Johnson signed the original bill into legislation, Medicare was free to all seniors. Now it costs a little over $100 per month per person. (Not complaining!). Back then all your medical and hospital costs were covered. Now you get about 80% coverage. But you can buy supplemental insurance, which I opted to do. For an additional $214 a month, ALL my medical bills are paid. There is no “in network” restriction. I can go anywhere I want and get it covered, within the medical community. Often alternative health providers are covered as well by limiting what they can charge (my chiropractor can only charge $32 per visit, for example).

Prescription medications are covered by yet another insurer. Again, it’s a reasonable amount–$25 a month–and well worth it.

I pay about $350 a month for no deductibles, 100% coverage and most prescription drugs are under $10 a month.

There is another obvious aspect to this: The above is for the highest risk population in the country–seniors. If this amazing coverage can happen for us, it begs the question, why can’t it for all Americans?

Certain politicians decry “Medicare for All” as putting the government between you and your doctor. That’s a lie. Right now, insurance companies are between you and your doctor. I have NEVER received a call from a government worker saying they wouldn’t pay for any procedure. It just doesn’t happen.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, 2017, paying for the surgeries and treatments never crossed my mind. A close friend of mine experienced the same diagnosis with “Free Market” insurance and it took her over 4 years to pay off her medical expenses.

The next time you vote, ask your candidates about Medicare for All and if they agree that health care is a right and not a privilege, give them your vote! It’s really a vote for YOU.

God Bless You, LBJ!