Why is insurance important to me? If you had asked me this question before 2013, I would have said: “what is insurance and why do I care?” Since 2013 I have learned just how important Health Insurance is for my family. My sister was diagnosed with Stage IV Kidney cancer at the age of 8. This is not easy for me to write about because like my sister, I never want anything given to me out of pity. I would never want to use my sister’s illness for anything but to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer.
So as I am preparing for my freshman year of high school, getting ready for high school football, track and basketball, hanging with my friends and just enjoying my summer, my sister started to feel sick almost every day. After several trips to our local doctor, my parents decided it was time for a second opinion. So we packed the car and took the trip to Billings, MT. My parents were determined to get answers. Monday, June 10, 2013, my sister was diagnosed with Stage IV Kidney Cancer. She was life flighted from Billings, MT to Denver CO to begin her Cancer Journey.
So my freshman year of High School started without my parents or my sister. She spent several months in the hospital in Denver. Was I mad? Yes. Was I angry? Yes. I couldn’t help but to also worry, not only about her health but would lay in bed and think, how will my parents ever pay for all of these medical bills. Not to mention my mom had to quit her job to be with my sister around the clock, my dad was also missing a lot of work. I never wanted to mention it to my mom or dad, after all they were watching their daughter fight for her life. So one night I was staying with my grandparents, and I broke down and asked my grandma, “How are my parents ever going to pay for all these bills?” At that moment I learned the importance of Health Insurance. What a relief my parents had Health Insurance.
In less than a year, my sister had 25 rounds of chemotherapy. Now, the average cost of a chemotherapy drug is between $900-$15,000. She had three chemo drugs each time she had therapy. She also had 15 rounds radiation totaling around $15,000. Then you have to add in the cost of her surgery. She had her right Kidney removed, eight lymph nodes, and a tumor the size of a small basketball. She spent several months in the hospital. Her flight to Denver was over $35,000. In less than a year, her doctor bills were OVER $1,000,000.
Now if my parents didn’t have health insurance how would you EVER pay back $1,000,000? How is that even possible? What would have happened? Would we have to sell our house? Our cars? Everything my parents have worked so hard to have? How do you pay back $1,000,000?
As I was preparing for writing this essay, I sat down with my parents and asked them what they spent in medical bills in 2013. The answer surprised me. $37,000. Only $37,000. That is $963,000 that was covered by health insurance. Let that sink in for a minute.
Ever since I can remember my parents have always worked, my dad being a Veteran of Operation Iraq Freedom. He works for Basic Energy Services in Sidney, Mt and has worked there since he got out of the military in 2004. He pays $520 a month for health insurance. My mom works as an Administrative Assistant.
My sister, Allison is now 11 years old and just started the 5th grade. She has been in remission for almost three years. We like to tell her she is our million dollar child/sister.
In closing I would just like to express how important it is to have Health Insurance. I am not sure where my family would be today if we had not had it when my sister was diagnosed with cancer.
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