Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Trump scares the shit out of me, so come November I’m voting Democrat no matter who’s on the ballot. I’m hoping Hillary will change her mind about single payer health insurance.

Lee calls it the unAffordable Care Act. No shit. The bills just came in for my three-day stay in the hospital last February after a routine colonoscopy turned bloody. The hospital copay was $600; the doctor, $433. Before Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon starts paying 100% I have to pay $8,300 out of pocket. That’s about half my Social Security. And there’s no rollover. Next year it starts at zero.

Before the Affordable Care Act I saw doctors at walk-in clinics twice a year to get prescriptions renewed for Type 2 Diabetes. It cost about $1,500 a year. With pre-existing conditions I was uninsurable. That changed with the Affordable Care Act, which happened at the same time I signed up for Medicare. It was awesome. At last I could get the medical care I had needed for years but couldn’t afford: cataract surgeries, knee replacement surgeries, a real primary care doctor….

But it wasn’t cheap. From 2012, when I signed up with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, through 2015, I’ve paid $17,528.83 for insurance, Medicare, and copays. Add the $3,148.73 I’ve paid so far this year and the total is $20,677.56. RBCBS premiums increased 18%, while Medicare stayed the same: $104.90, which is deducted from my Social Security every month.

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is a very profitable non-profit corporation – $35.8 million profit in 2014, $25.8 million in 2015. That $10 million drop is probably why they upped premiums again and changed deductibles this year. Some copays went from a flat fee ($10-25) to 20% of the cost. For example, my yearly eye exam copay in 2015 was $25; this year it was $75.

I’m happy that I was able to get the surgeries, but it’s hard to feel grateful when I look north to my bff Spider. He pays about $650 a year for health insurance in Canada where hospital stays, including the doctors and prescriptions, are covered 100%. There was no hospital or doctor bills for Spider after Jeanne’s long battle with cancer. Their daughter Terri, who lived in the USA, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2011 and her long battle with cancer left the family with significant debt despite good insurance and fund raisers.

We always hear complaints about the long waits for non-emergency surgeries in Canada, but not so much about the Canadian-trained doctors who leave Canada to practice in the US where they can get really, really rich. The surgeon who replaced both my knees was from Toronto.

Vancouver, WA
April 28, 2016