Dawn Smith lives in Atlanta. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare, but treatable brain tumor. Her doctors are ready to remove it, but they can't because CIGNA refuses to pay for the surgery.
Dawn has been fighting CIGNA on her own, but now she's asking for help. CIGNA may be able to ignore her, but they won't be able to ignore millions of us standing together.
I just added my name to the group of people standing with Dawn. Will you join me so we can shine a light on Big Insurance's abusive tactics, get Dawn the care she needs and make sure they don't do this to anyone again? You can sign at the link below
I had health insurance.
When I was a minor, I was a dependent on my father's plan. I got to keep that health insurance when I went to college because I was a full-time student. Then I got a job teaching English in Japan (JET program) and was automatically enrolled into the Japanese National Health Coverage program, 国民健康保険 kokumin-kenkou-houken, when I applied for a work visa.
It was actually pretty cool. As a function of paying my local taxes, I could go to any clinic or hospital in any city in the prefecture, for any type of sickness or discomfort. I caught a bad flu over the winter (aching all over, barfing, fever, delusions, the whole nine yards) and went, without an appointment, to the nearest clinic, on a weekend. I showed them my little orange and white Kokumin card, waited 20 minutes in a quiet waiting room with some tea, then was seen directly by a doctor. He checked me out, asked me about my symptoms (in English, even), and asked a few questions: we mutually decided it sounded like I had the coastal flu, and he went over the symptoms and usual progress of the virus to be sure it matched with the symptoms I'd experienced. Then he wrote down a combination of two medicines on my chart, and we went up front to the nurse's desk. I bowed goodbye and thanks to the doctor, the nurse read my chart, and brought me my proscriptions from the medicine room, along with dosing instructions in English. My copay was exactly 1,000 yen. About $10 USD.
Then I came back to the US.
The health care industry in the States does not consider Japan's Kokumin health care to be a legitimate form of "continuing coverage," so I could not re-apply for any plan I had been covered by in the past, even at a higher rate. In addition, treatment for any condition I had developed before, even while covered by US health insurance companies, would no-longer be covered by any plan on the market.
I applied as an individual, age 24, non-smoker, non-drinker, and was subsequently denied coverage by Cigna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Health, and Assurant to any plan at any cost. The reason given for the denials was always that I have PCOS and hypothyroidism.
Neither of these conditions are terminal. Neither are even considered serious by the doctors who diagnosed me. Both are well-controlled by medication.
I am currently paying for those medications out-of-pocket at about $300 a month because I have no health insurance, no prescription coverage. There are no generics available for one of the medications I must take daily, and the manufacturer offers no discount programs or assistance.
I need to find a job that offers health care. I cannot be a freelancer anymore -- I must be corporately employed. Most employers in my field, however, do not offer major medical insurance. I'm still looking for even one that does.
Until then, I am nervous, insecure, and one of America's 40 million or more uninsured.