Personal Experiences

Moscow Pullman Daily News

Moscow Pullman Daily News

Town Crier VI: It takes a community – and insurance Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 12:00 am

In the past two months, our family has gone through a health crisis. At 2:30 a.m. on April 30 my husband, Nitin, woke up with a severe headache and asked me to take him to the emergency room. After CT scans in Pullman indicated brain hemorrhage, he was transported by MedStar first to Spokane and then to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. When our daughter and I started driving to Seattle, we called our friends there to let them know. Our Seattle-area friends of more than 45 years opened their homes and hearts and gave us emotional support. For 38 days, we stayed with two families who live near the hospital. Our friends from Skagit Valley and the Indian community of friends in the Seattle area visited the hospital and brought food. Out-of-town relatives and friends called, sent good wishes and prayed for us. Our daughter’s husband and her friends in Pullman helped with the children’s activities so she could go to Seattle when needed. Whenever our daughter returned to Pullman, out-of-town relatives came to help me. They were welcomed by our host families. We were overwhelmed by such love and support. Nitin’s health continues to improve and the prognosis is optimistic for a near-normal recovery.

My uncle’s words from my childhood echoed in my mind, “Healing requires four components: skill and competence of professional caregivers; good wishes and support of family and friends; positive efforts and attitude of the patient; and for believers – Grace of God.” We had all these in abundance.

We must add a fifth component – health insurance. We were fortunate to have that as well. Being over 65, we have Medicare. In addition we have a good supplemental insurance. A young patient we met at the hospital was also lucky he had signed up for “Obamacare” a few months before he had a stroke. My friend in Skagit Valley wasn’t so fortunate. She and her husband lost their jobs a few years before they turned 65 and before the Affordable Care Act was implemented. Her new part-time job didn’t provide any coverage and they couldn’t afford insurance because of high premiums. Then her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Assuming insurance would turn him down, they waited for treatment until he turned 65. They were also worried that without insurance they would have to pay a huge amount for treatment or lose their home before qualifying for Medicaid. Ten days prior to turning 65, he suffered a massive heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. Medicare paid for part of his stay after he turned 65, but the cost for the days before that was enormous. Their friends and families had fundraisers to help them. He recovered from his heart attack and had a few good years, but the prostate cancer had progressed. He succumbed to it.

Their story and the story of the patient at Harborview made me realize that people erroneously believe “Obamacare” helps only those who don’t work (as if that is their choice), who are lazy and haven’t saved for their own care. These were hard-working people who lost their jobs and insurance, were making too little to afford health insurance, had a pre-existing condition or were not fortunate enough to be over 65. As much as we stress personal responsibility (and that is important), in a civilized society it takes support from family, friends, community, and sometimes government for citizens to stay healthy and alive. I hope everyone receives the help and support from their community as we received it during my husband’s recent illness.