Open Letter to President Obama

Greetings Kind Sir;

As an openly gay citizen who helped put you into your current position I am upset at the lack of positive action from your Administration on issues that concern me; full and equal rights for me and my relationship, the insulting DADT policy, etc. Others have told me to be patient and to continue to support you as you tackle the horrors you inherited caused by years of poor management. I do agree that there are many issues you need to address, and I am prepared to wait for action on the above issues if you can convince me that you will soon make significant, positive changes in the area of our health care system.

If you aren’t going to take my suggestion to call this a War on Ill-Health then I wish you would take the suggestion that has been offered in other places and talk about Health Insurance Reform. Not only is it a less-threatening term to many people it is also more accurate. Changing policies and procedures covering health insurance can lead to better quality health care while reducing waste and lowering the cost of health insurance.

As you and your Administration consider what is acceptable in legislation addressing the weaknesses (current and pending) in health care in the USA, I offer my story as a “test case“. I believe I am representative of a number of people and that finding a solution that addresses my conditions and concerns may well address those of many others.

I am a 51 year old male living in central Ohio. I have a partner, own my home (well, with the bank) and make payments on one car. As I was laid off from my previous employer (after 12 years of service) and the part-time business I’ve run for many years isn’t providing significant revenue in the current economy, our one vacation trip a year was canceled this year. Our finances are tight, but we have yet to resort to a local food bank, ‘food stamps’ or discounted heating fuel (although that last one is being considered as the summer wains). I don’t qualify for mortgage assistance as I am unemployed.

Medically speaking, I have COBRA coverage from my previous employer for up to another 9 months- although I might not be able to afford that after the ARRA-funded discount expires at the end of this year. Because I selected a high-deductible plan (taking advantage of funding a Health Savings Account while still employed) my full COBRA premiums next year will be just under $350 (single) each month. I don’t see how anyone unemployed with higher premiums manages, I really don’t.

I am being treated for Benign Hypertension (“high blood pressure“) with minimal medication. I am sure under the current system most insurance companies would consider that a “pre-existing condition” that causes, might cause, or could be a contributory cause to a wide range of conditions from Heart Disease or Stroke to Diabetes; thus enabling them to not cover treatment.

While working for my previous employer my One Million Dollar lifetime allowance has been depleted by almost $40,000; there was one (serious) car accident in there, plus treatment for a kidney stone, a colonoscopy and various minor infections. I can easily imagine someone who has been diagnosed with a major illness accumulating a million dollars of treatment and loosing all coverage.

So- my future health insurance needs may be as an employee of another firm, or as a self-employed businessman (probably based on how quickly and how well the economy recovers). But in either case it needs to be affordable and comprehensive. That is, it should cover my health care needs without regard to current or previous conditions and without a cap on coverage while permitting me to retain my current, excellent, ‘primary care provider’.

As a bonus, it should remove such silliness as what followed my car accident. I was admitted to the designated Trauma Center here so the insurance company covered my 18 day stay despite that hospital not being ‘in plan’. But they would not cover my necessary physical therapy as prescribed by the attending orthopaedic surgeon as he was not ‘in plan’. The work-around was having him fax information to my Doctor so she could write the necessary prescription. A small inconvenience, but illustrative of the many rules and procedures that unnecessarily slow down health care and increase administrative workloads.

Please deliver on this, and you can work on those other concerns I mentioned at the beginning after the year-end holidays.

Respectfully,

Brian Gryphon
PS: I do have a few other blog posts addressing my thoughts on everything from Cash for Clunkers to my proposal for a stimulus plan for Main Street for your consideration.

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