Here is my letter to UnitedHealthcare. It is real, it is raw, and it is straight forward.
There are so many families who find themselves in the NICU facing the daunting expenses after an emergency birth. Many are shipped to other healthcare systems during this emergency to receive top-notch care, yet fight the red tape of coverage inside their policies.
For about six months, my wife and I did not have health insurance. Yes…no health insurance. This was probably the first time in my life that I walked around, drove a car, existed without health insurance. At the end of 2009, my wife and I decided it was best for me to un-invest in a company in which I was part owner. This company was my last health insurance provider before becoming self-employed. For years, I have worked for major companies, all of which offered major health coverage. But when December 1, 2009 rolled around…Sarah and I were un-insured. You never think about it until the first time you fall, get sick, or even have that one moment in the car when you think you were close to an accident.
Carrying health insurance is more than just something that is a luxury, in the world of small business…it is a line item. It is that one thing that is tough to justify, especially when building a business…trying to decide whether to pay yourself (which pays the mortgage) or have health insurance. We set benchmarks for the business, and when we felt the revenue reached a certain goal, investing in health insurance became a reality. That is why we invest in an HSA Program through Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC.
So, on August 6, 2010…I worked with South Carolina Hospital Association to find and document stories of the un-insured. AccessHealth’s SC Mission 2010 put together a free medical clinic in Greenville, SC at the Carolina First Center. Over 2000 people came from all over the Southeast, some as far as Virginia. Each one, seeking medical care.
I met a nice lady named Judy. Judy was a sassy lady, but one with tremendous conviction. She was determined to be seen and determined to seek help with her medications. She was so determined to be seen by a physician, she arrived a day early and spent the night outside the front doors of the Carolina First Center. I do not mean she slept in her car, she propped a chair against the front door and maintained her spot in line, overnight, outside, during a huge thunderstorm. She was determined to be seen the moment the doors opened. You never know what it is like to go without health insurance, until one day…you do not have that opportunity.
So many Americans today are without basic health insurance, access to care. They have no primary physician. This lack of insurance takes them to the Emergency Departments across America. Our Emergency Departments are today’s primary physician for most un-insured. Hospitals everyday write-off services because those who seek care come without insurance and the inability to pay the inflated costs dictated by insurance providers. Hospitals are struggling, trying to find the balance between providing quality care and declining reimbursements for the un-insured.
I met Sid at the Carolina First Center while waiting to have his eyes checked. Sid told me about a time he had to go to the hospital and the final bill was $13,000.00. He said, ” $13,000…I will never see $13,000.” This statement is the epitome of today’s un-insured population. America is slowly spreading the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.” No wonder the idea of providing basic medical attention and simple health insurance is a promise of care for today’s struggling population. Imagine not having insurance, falling and breaking a bone, and then no idea what to do! So many small business survive everyday with this basic fear, the fear of the unknown.
AccessHealth’s SC Mission 2010 was just one event, bridging the gap just a little more between the “haves” and the “have nots.”