Saturday, March 2, 2013

Back After a Long Interruption

It has been a while. In September 2009, my dear husband was diagnosed with follicular B-cell lymphoma. This is a disease that goes into remission, but cannot be cured. Suddenly, the strong and reliable one in our marriage, the one who supported me through countless medical tests, procedures and appointments was the one in need of support.
In December 2009, about halfway through chemo, he was laid off from his job. Thus began the my education in COBRA and, later, in the effects of pre-existing conditions in the individual insurance market. While we were thankful for any insurance at all in August 2010 when he had surgery for colon cancer, COBRA is a constant battle between the consumer and the administrator who wants to cut off your insurance as quickly as possible.  The surgery was considered a cure, for which we are thankful. As hubby reached the magic Medicare age of 65 and COBRA was running out, I learned that there was really no point in applying for an individual insurance plan. With my medical history, there was no way I was getting insurance. Actually, despite my excellent cholesterol numbers, excellent blood sugar, etc., the ratio between my height and my weight meant insurance companies didn't even care about my medical history, I was simply not insurable. I contemplating running an ad "Will work for health insurance," but I really didn't want to take a job. I do valuable volunteer work and I was not ready to give that up for health insurance. Enter a special program called CoverColorado that offers health insurance to folks with pre-existing conditions. I had insurance. It isn't cheap and the deductible is high, but it is insurance that equals what many others get from small employers.
At the same time that I was getting my hard-knocks education on buying individual insurance, Congress was considering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Thanks, ObamaCare! I read that bill thoroughly and repeatedly. I found myself trying to correct misconceptions about what the bill did and did not do. No, there is no death panel. A nationwide ID card is a good thing that protects our wishes if we are injured outside our home state. And on and on and on. At one point, I had a standard document I sent to anyone who sent me the "55 terrible things ObamaCare will do to ruin your life" email. I studied single-payer insurance options, programs that reduce health care costs, options in health care delivery and countless other related topics. I educated myself in ways most folks don't have the time or inclination to do.
In January 2012, I added to my volunteer titles Volunteer Advocate for Colorado Interfaith Voices for Justice. Yes, I became a lobbyist! My primary area was, and is, health care, though I dabbled in Juvenile Justice to help pass a bill eliminating direct file of juveniles as adults in most cases. I learned about Medicaid, long-term care and loads of other subjects I never thought I'd need to know. In May, I was named to the Individual Experience Advisory Group for Colorado Health Benefits Exchange (COHBE).
Now, in March 2013, we've adjusted to our new normal. Hubby is in remission from lymphoma, I'm more comfortable with all my new volunteer jobs, and I have the time to resume my blog.
It is good to be back!

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