At this time of year, we all take stock of our lives. The global pandemic has made me more appreciative of my many blessings. High on this list is great health insurance.
Both of my children have serious and costly health conditions. My son has Type 1 Diabetes. My daughter has celiac disease. Management of the conditions involves regular visits to specialists and rafts of medicine. Rare is the week when we are not managing issues related to prescriptions or scheduling tests. Yet, we are thankful to have access to some of the best providers in the world and we are privileged to be in their care.
More importantly, our insurance covers this care, and we are able to manage the avalanche of co-payments. I choose insurance knowing that I will hit the out of pocket maximum, and bake that amount into our family budget.
Too many people don’t have access to insurance, and too many people have their access to medical care blocked because of high deductibles. Their insurance has co-payments and deductibles that make access to care cost-prohibitive. In the diabetic community, there are too many stories of people choosing between insulin and food.
My interest in healthcare is not idle. Ten years ago, I started a company with the support of a grant from the Ford Foundation, to increase enrollment in Medicaid. BeneStream built a machine that enrolls working people in Medicaid, and today we work with tens of thousands of people every year to ensure they get the highest quality lowest-cost health insurance that is available to them.
During that period, we’ve supported the enrollment of diabetics, cancer patients, mothers of sick children, pregnant women, and working people of all stripes. Each week we review enrollment stories with our team, and we are always surprised at the toll that healthcare and its financial costs have on families.
It is routine for us to work with someone who has a terminal illness and has lost their insurance from work, a situation where on top of and the stress of the illness itself, the individual faces the scary prospect of surgery or treatment without an ability to pay. One client faced terminal brain cancer, and because he had no health insurance, he faced the prospect of turning over his life savings, and still receiving a substantial bill for a procedure that may or may not have saved his life.
Insurance that covers people’s procedures, and protects their financial lives is critical, and not everyone has access to these kinds of plans. Fortunately, Medicaid provides this kind of support, and it is available to our lowest-wage working population. It is a blessing because it is critical to maintaining the physical health of those who use it, while also protecting their financial health. Medicaid enrollees, unlike far too many members of our society, are not one accident or illness away from financial devastation.
So as I think about the ups, and many downs, of 2020, I am grateful not only for my own family’s health care but also for the opportunity to extend access to quality coverage to others around the country. May 2021 grant more families the security that mine enjoys. We all need it more than ever. Happy Holidays.