Residents in need of specialized health care have been blessed to have one of the countries prestigious Mayo Clinics located in Jacksonville; however, recent state cuts to eliminate both Medicare and Medicaid will literally “cut-off” many who have lost insurance and can’t afford to pay “cash” due to the recessive state of our nation’s economy. Bureaucracy & budget cuts now eliminate access.
I have the good fortune of being a coveted, Mayo Clinic patient. At the beginning of treatment, I was gainfully employed and paid egregious health care premiums to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama (Corporate headquarters for my former employer). After jumping through preexisting condition hoops, pushing paper back and forth, and pulling out my few buds of hair, I was finally approved to receive a medically necessary “Neuro-stimulator” to combat nerve damage and chronic pain resulting from multiple, cancer-related surgeries. I am lucky.
The high-tech spinal cord implant is costly and manufactured by St. Jude’s Medical division. The coordination of many medical professionals and representatives was strategic to take me from the initial “trial” phase of the implant to the more complicated neurosurgery. Time lapsed. Blue Cross Blue Shield took their time. My employer grew weary of continuing to afford time off. By the time I finally completed the trial and had my next surgery, four months and more than $200,000 in total cost has been incurred including office visits, labs, image studies, physical therapy, and I choose to include “out of pocket” expenses for frequently driving to the south’s, sprawling Taj Mahal and valet parking. The latter wasn’t a requirement, but just in case you don’t know anything about Mayo Clinic, the only thing worse than missing a scheduled appointment is being a milli-second late. Valet parking saved me on many tight-squeeze days.
Most of the aforementioned is behind me, but my FMLA ended with reasonable employer notification, and COBRA was gleefully offered. Who can afford to pay $600+ a month for health insurance premiums? No one I know. I was granted Social Security following my initial cancer diagnosis, so I am entitled to Medicare Part A & B. The latter would be a blessing if I lived in a state with a sane governor or didn’t need my spinal cord implant serviced by both the hospital of my choice and the facility best equipped to monitor its functionality and progress.
There has never been a more important political climate than now for Americans to use their voice regarding the state of health care. This issue directly affects me, and I’m sure countless others you know and love. Specifically, the elderly population who command the highest need for world class, specialized health care. For this populous, it’s dire. Use your voice! Write your legislators, congress, and health care lobbyists.
Penny Dickerson 2011
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