My Name is Jose Latour, I am a US Citizen…and I Am Uninsured

Shocked?  Don't be.  We are legion, we are legal residents and citizens of the country, and we are the reason why nothing less than a comprehensive restructuring of the present healthcare system will address the issue of public health in America.

Yes, I am uninsured…sort of.  The truth is that Roger, Linda and Regina have an excellent health insurance plan for their employees and the firm is one of few which puts its money where its mouth is as far as this critical benefit.  I have my shiny new card and I am covered…sort of.  You see, I suffer from high blood pressure.  I've had it for years and the medication I am on works perfectly.  But it is an expensive medication and according to my doctor, I will be on blood pressure medication for the rest of my life.  Hence the dilemna.

Along with my insurance card welcoming me to the new plan, I received a rather convoluted letter which I had to read several times before I was clear on its meaning.  The letter said that I had a "pre-existing condition" and that, as such, I would not be really TRULY insured until July of 2010.  Stunned, I immediately looked up the applicable regulations and guess what we didn't know: even an established corporate group plan which cannot refuse to insure employees can STILL effectively deny coverage for the first year for any "pre-existing condition" such as my high blood pressure.

So what does all this mean?  Well, for one thing, it means that I'm on my own for my pricey BP medicine till at least next July.  I could almost live with that if that was it.  But the way I read the law, it appears that anything even remotely associated with my hypertension could mean I am not covered by the policy the firm and I are paying good money to keep in force.  ER visit triggered by unexplained surge in BP?  Not covered.  Stroke?  Sorry.  Heart attack, for which hypertension is invariably a key link?  Fuggedaboudit.

So here I sit in my nice office with my degrees on the wall, playing by the rules, drinking my Slimfast, taking my pills and knowing that if the you-know-what hits the fan, I'll be as uninsured as the next poor guy on his home-made raft, reaching for a mangrove, trying damn hard to get a dry foot planted on the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave.

The smug attitude of bloated Congressman with colossal pensions and insurance coverage eclipsing that of any Fortune 100 executive neither impresses me nor does it confuse the fundamental truth: if a guy like me can't afford to get sick in America…

Who can?