Personal health insurance, while now seem to be very expensive, is the most important thing a person can have. I have learned this through the experiences of my parents and grandparents very well.
2012 was a very eventful year for my family and is the reason that I know how important health insurance is to have.
My story begins in March of 2012. My grandmother, “Oma”, has had poor health for many years. She contracts pneumonia often, fights fibromyalgia and severe scoliosis. To combat the pain of the fibromyalgia, Oma had a morphine pump inserted into her many years ago. Oma decided in February that she wanted to get off the morphine and eventually have the pump removed. In the midst of having withdrawals, she had a very severe headache, one bad enough it required a trip the Emergency Room. While there, she was given a morphine shot, on top of the one she had received at the doctors that day and started overdosing. To save her life, she was put into a coma so that they could keep her alive and breathing. The intent in the end was to wean her off the morphine while she was in the coma. We didn’t know if she would survive. My grandfather, “Opa”, was struggling to make ends meet, but maintained their health insurance from the company he had retired from. With little to no income, they paid nothing in the end, because Opa had maintained his health insurance and her life was saved.
A little over two months later, my mom, who had heart surgery when I was 3, had a minor stroke because her blood levels had gotten off. Because of her health insurance, she was able to be seen in a good hospital where they were took care of her very well and she recovered quickly and without a lot of paper work hassle.
Between these two events, my Opa’s sister died. I tell you this because it explains the rest of the story.
My Opa worked constantly at Wal-mart making minimum wage. Because he knew he had to maintain his health insurance, they lived off of very little. Between the stress of my Oma almost dying, my great Aunt dying of a heart attack, my mom having a small stroke, and working non stop but not eating healthy because he couldn’t afford to do otherwise, my Opa got very very sick. In July of 2012, Opa went to the doctors because he was having trouble breathing. The doctor thought it was just asthma, but it turned out that he had a lot of fluid around his heart, in his lungs and in congestive heart failure. My Opa doesn’t remember July to December of that year, because he spent the entire time in the hospital, severely ill. It turns out that all the stress and not eating right had worn his heart down and he needed to have heart surgery to replace his mitral valve, but the doctors didn’t think he would survive the surgery, his heart had gotten that weak. We eventually learned that he would need a heart transplant and he was getting sicker by the minute. When my mom, Oma and Opa went to meet with everyone about getting on the transplant list, we were terrified but the numbers they were giving us for costs of the procedures, not to mention the costs of all the medications. There was talk about $3,500 a month for just one medication. No one knew how my grandparents were going to be able to afford this. Opa got sicker and sicker, to the point we thought we were going to lose him. Funny thing about my Opa, he never had any doubt. He knew God had more planned for him, but if He wanted to take him home, he knew he was going to see his parents and his sister. We all learned to be at peace with that. In December of 2012, Opa was admitted into the hospital with a cardiac heart cath inserted so that they could control his heart beat, blood pressure, etc. and have him ready whenever a heart became available. Thankfully for us, that happened in January of 2013. Sadly, a 16 year old boy, not much older than me, but around the same height as my Opa, died in a car accident. Blessedly, that boys family knew he wanted to be an organ donor. My Opa’s life was saved in January of 2013 because of that generous donation.
We still weren’t sure how all the medications were going to be paid for, but, because my Opa had maintained his health insurance, the $3,500 medication, became a $75 medication. With all the testing that had to be done, the stay in the hospital, the life saving surgery, Opa paid $500 total.
I truly don’t believe my Opa or Oma would be alive today if it wasn’t for his decision to keep his health insurance. I know that they both would have put off going to the doctors because they couldn’t have afforded it and it would have cost them their lives.
Though there is much talk about the cost of health insurance, it is still a necessity. Though it may be a just in case expense, it is still a necessity. I believe that many lives could be saved by going to the doctor when sick. Early detection can be found by going to the doctor when something feels off. I also believe too many people don’t go because they can’t afford health insurance, and thus can’t afford the cost of the doctor.
I believe having that health insurance, and the coverage it provided, allowed my Oma and Opa to be there when I became an Eagle Scout and will be there to see me graduate in May.
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