Tonight, I am going to share my healthcare / health insurance story with a group that is doing a presentation / forum on health care reform. Here is my "speech":
Good Evening. My name is Jeff Greathouse and tonight, I am going to share with you my story about health care and health insurance. Over the last three and half years, we have seen many different sides of the health insurance and health care debate. Because of this journey, I honestly believe that we need health care reform. I am going to be honest and I will tell you that I do not have all the answers. However, tonight is not about providing answers, tonight is about me sharing my family’s story.
In June of 2006, we moved from Alabama to Indiana to take a new job position. We had always had group health insurance and when we took the position in Indiana, we were promised that this position would have group health insurance, as well. Well, the group health insurance did not occur and my wife has a pre-existing condition that every insurance company denies. Thus, we quickly found ourselves without health insurance for my wife.
Thus, we went searching for different avenues of finding care for my wife and we came to dead end after dead end. It was very frustrating going from insurance company to insurance company and government agencies and programs and constantly getting a no; we can not get her covered. One of our major hurdles when we first moved was that we had moved from Alabama to Indiana thus we could not get into any government insurance pools because we had not been a resident for at least 12 months.
In March of 2007, my wife became extremely ill and we went scrambling to find doctors, hospitals and surgeons that would cover her. Unfortunately, the initial visits had to go through the ER and that was a nightmare. It was a nightmare not only because of the care she received but from the cost aspect of it.
We also got denied by our local clinics because we could not pay our hospital bills up-front. So, we could no longer go to the clinic. We were running out of options and went to some doctors and hospitals about an hour away in Indianapolis.
The care that we received was good. However, I have never been so humiliated in my life with a feeling that I did not take care of my wife because I did not have insurance for her. The reason for me not having insurance was far out of my control. But the humiliation was nothing compared to the realization that the surgeon told me that I needed to get her into a medical study grant or find insurance for her immediately or she may not live much longer.
Thus, I did the only thing that I thought that I could do. I sent my name and resume out to find a job that would be able to use my gifts and passion and that would be a good natural fit while providing group insurance for me and my family.
Thankfully, it took less than 3 months for me to find my current position that provides excellent insurance coverage for my family, including my wife. However, it did have to include a conversation with my kids that we had to uproot them again to another state.
We are extremely thankful for the insurance coverage and the proximity of the Cleveland Clinic. Since moving here, twenty-eight months ago - she has had seventeen surgeries. She is alive today because I have a health insurance card in my wallet. If I did not have the card in my wallet, my wife would not be alive today.
I am forever grateful that I have the insurance card in my back pocket and that my wife has her surgeon on speed dial. However, I have a deep mourning in my heart each time that we go in, because I know that there are folks who would love to get in but cannot because they do not have an insurance card. To me, from a religious standpoint, it is a sinful inequality that we have in our country.
The health insurance and health care reform not only touches people’s physical lives though. It touches every aspect; especially the financial aspect. Because of our medical situations (with and without insurance), our credit rating is shot and we are unable to achieve the dream of home-ownership.
It is my hope and my prayer that individuals would not have to walk in our footsteps. But, I know that with the many uninsured that we have in our country, many will and that is a shame.
I dream of a country where all individuals can have access to good health care. I would love to see the day when doctors, hospitals and insurance companies can look into a person’s eye and see patients not profits. It would be great if we as a country can see that this debate is a life and death issue. I look forward to the day that our country, which values life, will stop placing obstacles in the way of those seeking health care.
I believe that with a nation as wealthy and as smart as we are that we can create an impartial and sustainable health-care system.