Last year, my mother had a heart attack. She didn't even know it was a heart attack while she was having it. She thought she had a respiratory infection and that's why she was having such trouble breathing.
My father called me that morning and told me she wasn't feeling well. He asked me to check in on her and bring her some lunch. The request raised a red flag for me. He wouldn't ask me to do something like that unless it was serious, so I picked up some food and drove across town.
What breathing my mother could accomplish that afternoon was pained and raspy. She could barely get the food down and eating isn't exactly something we have a problem doing in my family. I didn't know what was wrong with her but one thing was for sure. This was no freaking respiratory infection.
She and my father had thought about taking her to the Quick Care in West L.A. the night before, but knew the visit would cost them thousands of dollars with the shitty HMO coverage they had; the only plan she could get approved for after years of history with skin cancer.
I didn't give a shit. After offering to take her in myself and getting rejected, I implored her to have my father take her in when he came home from work. Then I got on the phone with him and told him the same thing.
24 hours later, my mother had a 95% blockage removed from her central coronary artery at UCLA hospital.
Almost a year later, they're still trying to pay for it all. Insurance covered some, but not all of the mid-five figures in costs they acquired. And insurance covers hardly any of the hundreds of dollars a month she has to fork out now for meds.
My parents do the right thing. If anything, they do the right thing too often. And Otis did the right thing too, almost exactingly so when he tried to pre-pay for his youngest son's birth in an act of fiscal responsibility my credit-rating challenged self can barely fathom.
Read Otis' story St. Francis Hospital: The Real Cost of Having a Baby and tell me you don't want to punch a bureaucrat by the end.
My country needs real health care reform, and badly. My mom needs to stop living in fear of losing the little health insurance she still has by getting sick again. And people like me and the estimated 25% of Americans who are freelancers, independent contractors, or part-time workers need access to the kind of coverage our corporate worker bee peers enjoy.
For the record, I have a lot of problems with the bill out there. Frankly, I don't think anyone should be forced to pad the insurance industry's already overflowing coffers by being required to purchase coverage from them (only to get denied for shit later, just like Otis and my mom).
But something needs to be done. Read Otis' post and see if you don't agree with me (and I'm sure you will tell me if you don't, comments are right down there).