Saturday, April 18, 2009

Worrying About Insurance Is More Stressful Than Cancer

Universal Health Care -
From Remarks as delivered by Kelly Cuvar at a roundtable on health care reform with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

The second thing you need to know about me is that I was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago, when I was nineteen. I have had cancer ever since then. I have never been in remission. What I didn't know then -- my young nineteen year old self didn't have a clue -- was that for the rest of my life, the fact that I had cancer would be considered a huge hurdle that was made manifest in every aspect of my life -- that I'd have a pre-existing condition forever, and it would creep into everything I ever did.

Surviving and learning to live with cancer would not just be managing the disease physically, which is hard enough. The American health care system in general and my insurance providers in particular have been a greater affliction for me than cancer. Every single financial and life decision I make revolves around maintaining my ability to get vital health care. Where I live, if I can marry, if I can buy a home, changing my career, going back to school -- it is all mediated through my disease.

I am going to be absolutely honest with you: having to worry about insurance, and to constantly fight for and pay for and find money for payments, is worse than having cancer. I know that sounds ludicrous, but I am better able to deal with dealing with my illness than I am when I am fighting with insurers, or now that I am unemployed, worrying about how I can maintain my coverage. This is more stressful than any of the treatments I've received over the last ten years, and any of the consequences of them.

What the cancer hasn’t been able to do, our broken health care system has done: force me to deal with anxiety on levels that I've never known before. I am frightened, and it is all I think about.

If you can say with honesty that worrying about insurance is more stressful than worrying about being ill with a chronic and life-threatening disease, what does that say about the state of healthcare right now?

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