Help Me Rhonda: Vote to cure health-care system | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Help Me Rhonda: Vote to cure health-care system

Rhonda Beckham

I am the poster woman for what someone without health insurance looks like. Surprised? Don’t be.

There are services offered to those at the poverty level. But I, like many others, don’t fit that category.

Regular exercise, proper nutrition and daily meditation all are part of my quest in being proactive for my health. Health insurance would be the natural next step. Being self-employed, the responsibility completely falls on my shoulders.

Starting a business in Lake Tahoe is no easy task. It’s even more difficult to successfully sustain it. For the first two years, I had serious doubts about whether to stay and fulfill my desire to help others improve their health and quality of life, or flee while I still had some cash in the bank.

Thanks to my loyal clients and community support, my personal-training business finally is profitable. Last summer, I knew I had the steady income to pay for health insurance. The last time I had health insurance was when my employer in Tacoma, Wash., provided it in 2003.

But here is the response I got from Anthem Blue Cross: “At Anthem Blue Cross, we offer full and fair consideration for our applicants. In keeping with this mission, every application is given a thorough review before determining eligibility. Some medical conditions present uncertain medical underwriting risks. We find we are unable to offer you enrollment at this time. Our decision was based on the following medical history: Plantar fasciitis.”

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(Washington state outlawed the pre-existing condition clause years ago. And I thought California was supposed to be so progressive.)

Lots of thoughts – and some not-so-nice words – went through my mind when I read Blue Cross’ explanation. I am not eligible for health insurance because of a self-diagnosed minor foot condition. Shame on me for the self-diagnosis – though I still think it’s accurate. Shame on them for cutting me off completely, not even saying they’d cover me for everything except for plantar issues. They did say I could reapply when I am sign-, symptom- and treatment-free for 12 months.

Why can’t a healthy, 44-year-old woman obtain health insurance? Because insurance companies are made up of people who choose to only insure people with no blemishes in their health history. Does that person really exist, or do people lie on the applications?

A lot of people I talked with about Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko,” about the health-care system, said they didn’t believe the premise and how it can’t be that bad out there. Believe it. I’m living it, and so are 45.7 million other Americans who don’t have health insurance. It is an outrage that one of the richest countries in the world does not have a system in place that helps citizens get basic health care.

I don’t need the Hummer plan; a minivan version would be OK. I want to feel comfortable paying $40 to get Barton’s blood workup and know I would have insurance to cover me if something out of the ordinary were found at the lab. But I choose not to get the blood panel because I don’t have the money if something is wrong.

And how wrong is that? I don’t want to be a burden on society. I want to pay a fair premium like others do. I want preventive medicine. I want annual checkups. I want to be able to afford to stay healthy beyond eating right and exercising. I don’t want to go to the emergency room when I don’t have an emergency, but I do need antibiotics. I don’t want health care handed to me. I’ll pay for it, for the insurance premiums. The system, though, is not working today.

I believed Sen. Barack Obama when he first came on the scene and vowed to fix the health-care crisis. He watched his mother die while she worried about her health-care bills.

I still believe him.

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Obama’s health-care plan will cost $1.6 trillion. It means 34 million people who don’t currently have health insurance will have it. Sen. John McCain’s plan will cost $1.3 trillion and will only insure 1 million more people.

If we can bail out corporate fat cats to the tune of $700 billion to help an ailing economy, shouldn’t we vote for Obama because he’ll do more than put a Band-Aid on a dysfunctional health-care system?

So you know who I’m voting for Nov. 4. I know there are many important issues to consider when choosing our next leader. I’ll accept whoever your choice is as long as I know you have given some serious thought to those issues. I’ll respect your decision as long as you can give at least one viable reason why you are supporting your candidate.

To find out what each candidate is planning to do about the much-too-long-endured health-care disaster, go to http://www.healthplanfacts.org.

– Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing.

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