Chronic Illness, Medication and Insurance
Sometimes when I write about having a chronic illness, I tend to focus on the emotional aspects of being sick. I think that for me I have always dealt with things from an emotional perspective feeling that if I am in tune with myself emotionally, I can deal with my physical issues better. But anyone who is sick, has been sick or has taken care of a sick person knows that having the medication that they need when they need it, is one the most important things in their lives. The stress and anxiety that accompanies not having the things that you need, affects you physically and emotionally. Health insurance has been one of the biggest headaches I’ve had since being on dialysis. I know that there are people out there that don’t have any health insurance and there are people out there who have insurance but it is limited and or has gaps that they must fill.
In my situation, although I’m considered “disabled,” and I receive Medicare, I don’t receive any disability payments. I was told when I applied for disability that I didn’t have enough work credits within a certain period before I became disabled. So for the first two years on dialysis, I had a very difficult time paying for my medications. I did have health insurance under my husband’s insurance but the co-pays were sometimes so expensive that I had to play “eenie, meenie, minee moe,” when it came to deciding what medications I could get or could do without. No one should ever have to make those kinds of decisions when it comes to something they NEED for their illness. My husband works full-time and is a wonderful provider (and care-giver) and he pays for our health insurance, so he felt bad about the medication decisions that I had to make.
When talking to other people about their issues with medications, I found that many of them had to make the same decisions I did or just went without in order to pay for other necessities. Again, being able to get and afford medication should never be like a game where you have to pick and choose. I am not making a political statement when I say this, just a personal one – the United States really drops the ball when it comes to our health care. To have uncontrollable high blood pressure and then have to go without the medication to control it causes more health issues and this is unacceptable.
As I mentioned, about two years into dialysis, I received some wonderful help from the social worker at my unit. After filing and refiling out paperwork and getting denied several times for additional help, I actually found a program within Medicare that made it possible for me to afford ALL my medications when I need them.
***I wanted to add that although there are drug companies out there that “advertise” that they can help you if you can’t afford your medications, I wasn’t able to get help in that way. Some of these companies have certain guidelines regarding financial limits and some of those limits for a family of three, were ridiculously low. I think that the “poverty guidelines,” especially in today’s economic times, should be re-evaluated.