Friday, August 14, 2015

My Healthcare Nightmare

I haven't blogged in a long time, but I was sitting here in tears this morning because of my current healthcare situation, not sure if I'm doing the right thing or if I should try something different.  I feel like I at least should write my story down, even if only a couple of people read it.

When we first came to San Antonio, my wife got a job in the Healthcare field and I got a job as an IT contractor.  We had health insurance through my wife's job since my contracting company does not provide insurance.  After she left the job to pursue a career as a personal trainer, we looked at the options provided under the Affordable Care Act, and then decided to continue COBRA coverage from my wife's previous job since the premium was the same and the deductibles were slightly lower.  I was shocked how expensive the premiums were compared to a few years ago, but of course we would keep our heath insurance!  We have always had health insurance! Everything was fine, until I actually started having some health issues.

Up until this point, I was eating healthier (still do), I was running 5 miles 4-5 days a week, was loosing weight and feeling pretty good.  But then one day, I started feeling a fluttering in my chest, pain, and decreased lung capacity followed by dizziness, shock, and anxiety that I might be dying.   I went to my Doctor, and he referred me to a cardiologist.  The Cardiologist looked at my EKG and said 'your EKG indicates you might have had a heart attack, but I don't believe it; let's do more tests'.  After an expensive round of testing, including the gold standard of cardiac catheter, he didn't find any issues with my heart.  I also went to an endocrinologist and pulmonologist, who couldn't find any cause either.   All the while these doctor's visits were draining my savings and I eventually came to a point where I had to make a decision.  I could stop paying the $700/month premium for health insurance and use that money to actually go to the doctor, or keep paying the premiums but quit seeing any doctors.  At the end of last year, I stopped paying my insurance premiums so that I could actually afford to see a doctor.

Since, I was no longer restricted by who I could see, I decided to try a functional medicine doctor.  They did a huge amount of blood work and put me on thyroid, and testosterone replacement meds.  This has helped me to feel a WHOLE lot less fragile, but it hasn't completely cured me.  I still have to be careful with what and how much I eat, and too much bending and bouncing can cause some of my symptoms to return as well.  I think I may have some kind of internal injury, like a torn diaphragm or really bad hiatal hernia, but I'm forgoing further treatment since I don't have health insurance.  It also really sucks that I will be penalized come tax time for making the best decision I could to stop paying the premiums so I could afford to go to the doctor.

I enjoy my job, but I've started looking around simply because I'm not currently insured; but it's hard to leave a job you like for something you are not so sure about.  When I feel better, I don't look as hard and when I feel worse, I start looking again.

Surely I'm not the only middle class person who has been squeezed by these steep premiums and have had to make a decision between forgoing a doctors visit, and paying the high health insurance premium. I'm not a political person, I'm not particularly fond of either party or the political polarization these days, heck I haven't registered to vote in quite a long time.  But this current (un)Affordable Care Act is a middle class nightmare, especially for those of us not covered by our Employer.   If any politician had a viable solution to replace the current disaster, I would definitely register and vote for that person.   I personally think we should either go all in (a single payer system), or not at all.  This monstrous hybrid we currently have will literally kill the middle class.