Election 2016 · Personal · Politics

My View from New Hampshire

AND so it begins! The next 8 days in New Hampshire are one of the best parts of living in the great state of New Hampshire. Between the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary, I plan to take a one-woman-tour of every candidate, both parties. Why?

Because I am the Undecided Independent Voter of New Hampshire.

Woo me.

We all have issues that are important to us. The candidates have well rehearsed answers to all of our questions on all of these issues. We all know that. So this time I am making this personal. If all goes as planned, I hope to ask my questions, about my life, and I hope that I leave each town hall feeling that for 2-5 minutes I was truly heard. That’s the goal, anyway… best laid plans…

Healthcare: my husband has a chronic cardiac condition. When you live with something nicknamed “sudden death syndrome” well, let’s just say that priorities get real. An old friend of mine, Tracey Fanning (remarkable woman) who lives with brain cancer described it perfectly:

I know what its like to have a bomb strapped to you…mine is in my brain. And every day I’m scared that it will go off. 7 years ago when they found it…I guess it would be like a soldier waking up with a bomb strapped to their chest. You’d wake up and not be able to move. Panicked it would go off at the slightest movement. Then after a few hours you have a itch and it really itches…so you scratch it. And the bomb doesn’t explode. So later you have to pee…and then you really have to pee…so you slowly get up and walk over to the bathroom and pee. You feel great relief at not only emptying your bladder…but that the bomb didn’t go off. Then you look in the mirror. You see the bomb. Its so scary. You cry. You look closer…how can I remove the bomb without blowing up my body? Shit…I can’t. Well, I guess I’ll go home and eat dinner. You carefully maneuver around the kitchen, cutting vegetables…trying not to bump the bomb. Then you carefully go to sleep…because you are absolutely exhausted from worrying that the bomb is going to go off.

When he was diagnosed in 2001, the prognosis for his condition was 5-7 years. That was 15 YEARS AGO and he is better than ever right now. To what do we attribute this miracle? Well, a salt-free diet is a huge part of it (if “meat is murder” then salt is suicide – more on this later) but since we are being real here, then here’s to Big Pharma. Exceptional healthcare and access to some of the finest doctors and hospitals in the country has kept him alive.

The impact of Obamacare: the demonization of big pharma in today’s political climate has slowed the research and development of pharmaceuticals and devices. In the Jen household, we’re talking 19 prescriptions per day and three devices which have saved my husband’s life on multiple occasions.

Outstanding physicians are leaving the actual practice of medicine. Two out of three of my husband’s cardiologists have left in the past 3 years.

Paperwork is impacting the amount of time spent in actual patient care.

A proposed single payer system would ultimately result in the rationing of tests, procedures and access as witnessed in places like Canada and the United Kingdom. Under such a system, my husband’s condition would likely have not been diagnosed until it was far too late. The thoroughness of his doctor at the time and the tests she ran would at this time not be approved.

My husband was 33 years old and a former college endurance athlete. He had no symptoms other than the occasional twinge in his chest under extreme stress at work. The doctor thought it was likely nothing to worry about, but decided to run a stress test. Without that stress test, well, he would not be with us today. Today, that test would be labeled as unnecessary or over-prescribed testing. Three months after he took it, he was undergoing evaluation for the heart transplant list.

Today, doctors no longer have the luxury of such thoroughness. They must stop at every turn and consider the financial repercussions of their every move.

It was a noble goal but we still have almost as many uninsured citizens as pre-Obamacare. For the rest of us rates have risen astronomically each year, deductibles and co-payments have exploded and provider networks have narrowed. Emergency co-pays for $500? You mean to tell me that if Little Johnny falls out of a tree or comes down with a fever over the weekend, his parents must fork over $500 for the immediate care they need? And that is just for showing up!

I could go on and on but let’s address the future. So we have learned to live with this “bomb” and despite it’s existence we are two of the happiest people I know. We have to be. We know fear and if we let fear in from day-to-day we would never leave the house. As one of my husband’s doctors told him a few years ago (this doc has since left the practice of medicine and gone into research) “I saved your life so you could live it.” So live it we are and we don’t think about the “bomb” but what we can’t help but think about are the bills and the January 1st shrinking of my paycheck as our rates went up again.

At the end of the day, it appears that we have broken our healthcare system to insure citizens that remain largely uninsured.

We are 20 years away from retirement, so at this point, how can I save for retirement if I have to save for healthcare? What will we be paying out-of-pocket in 5 years? or 10? It is terrifying because healthcare is our life.

Tell me candidates, can you help me? I’m going to give you the chance to tell me.

2 thoughts on “My View from New Hampshire

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