Monday, December 29, 2008

Part Three: Health Care forum report for Obama-Biden Transition Team

[This is Part Three of the report from the Dec. 15 Health Care discussions by the North Beach for Progress report.]


Linda’s story:
In April 2007 I began having trouble defecating. Although I had health
insurance, my deductible was $5,000. I therefore paid cash ($600) for a CT
exam which was inconclusive. The colo-rectal surgeon who ordered the test
told me that I probably had a gynecological problem and to go to a
gynecologist. I then went to a gynecologist who told me I probably had a
hematoma and that I needed to consult a general surgeon.

I had a trip scheduled to Colombia and while there my symptoms worsened. I
visited a bio-energetic M.D. there who ordered a pelvic ultrasound, CT and
colonoscopy. They were all performed that the same day, and I left each exam
with results in hand. The next morning the bio-energetic M.D. reviewed the
results and advised immediate surgery to remove a mass in my colon. A
colo-rectal surgeon was added to the team and surgery was scheduled.

One hour after the surgery began my partner was advised that I had cancer
and that I would be given a colostomy and a 3 month life expectancy. My
partner, to whom I am not married, protested this conclusion and asked the
surgeons to consider another alternative. After discussion, the surgeons
agreed to attempt to remove all of the abnormal cells from my colon and
abdomen, but told my partner that I had about a 10% chance of survival.

The surgery lasted 9 hours and involved removal of a central mass, two 6"
sections of bowel, removal and reconstruction of the bladder, removal of the
cervix and 1/2 of the vagina, and removal of an ovary. During the surgery a
urological surgeon and a gynecological surgeon were called in to consult and
assist in the surgery. The urology surgeon actually found the second mass in
the colon. I received both allopathic and homeopathic medications during
the surgery, in intensive care and post-operatively. I spent two days in
intensive care and ten days in a private room in the hospital. My total cost
for the pre-op exams, 9 hour surgery, all physicians and surgeons, and
medications was about $12,000, paid in cash.

After returning to the States two months later, I was examined by physicians
here who all said that I would not be alive if I had stayed in the States.
Apparently malpractice insurance rules would have prevented the surgery from
being performed here because the chance of survival was so low.

I submitted receipts to my U.S. insurance company for reimbursement. They
reimbursed $3,800 of the $12,000 and have ignored requests for explanation.
Soon after submitting the receipts, I received a retroactive notice of
termination of my insurance. Three months of premiums were reimbursed with
the notice.
Two deaths:
My story is about how 2 beautiful women in my care died of end stage cancers. One was my mother who died in pain and anguish as the chemo drugs poisoned her body. The other was my dear friend Laurie who refused traditional western medicines and chose healing instead. She used herbs and diet to cleanse and balance her body and build her immune system, acupuncture and medical qigong to cleanse pathogenic qi, balance her body’s energetic pathways, build her immune system and relieve stress, therapy to resolve deep emotional patterns, and spiritual counseling to open to the healing of spirit. As my mother’s disease progressed, her skin became more and more grey and pasty, her eyes duller and duller. Laurie on the other hand, became brighter and clearer, her skin and eyes radiant. Neither wanted to die. My mother’s last days were filled with bitterness and pain. In Laurie’s last days she said she had never before experienced such deep love and peace. My mother was poisoned; Laurie was healed. Yet our doctors’ choices, under standard of care guide lines set by the AMA, the drug company lobby and the insurance companies, are limited to surgery, chemo and radiation. Chemotherapy, the use of poisons first developed in the concentration camps, and radiation whose “success” rates are limited; procedures that in some cases yes save lives, yet are often themselves the cause horrible pain and death; these are the procedures that insurance will pay for. None of the modalities that brought healing and peace to Laurie were covered by insurance. According to the insurance companies, supported by the drug companies and the AMA, these alternatives are considered “too experimental” and there is no “proof” that they provide value.

My healthy daughter’s inability to get health insurance:
While a senior in high school, my daughter was exhausted; typical of a teenager burning the candle at both ends and the middle, yet I took her to our doctor to make sure she was ok. While her blood tests were fine, he put her on a low dose of thyroid medicine as a test to see if she was in the beginning stages of sub-clinical hypothyroidism. In 3 weeks he determined that her thyroid was fine and she stopped the medicine. It was during those 3 weeks however that I applied for health insurance for her. I told the insurance agent about the test of medication, asked if I should wait until the test was over to apply, was told it was not going to be a problem, and a week later was denied coverage for “a pre-existing condition”. I called, I wrote letters, my doctor called and wrote letters all explaining the test of medication and it’s proof she is a normal healthy teenager who, as suspected, was tired because as most teenagers she needed more sleep! After numerous appeals, we gave up. About 6 months later I applied to another insurance company who this time denied her because she was previously denied by another insurance company. Followed more appeals and letters from the doctor, and this time copies of her complete medical records since she was born. Upon evaluation of her records, they now denied her on grounds of chronic depression. What? There is nothing in her experience or her records to indicate that. What was there was that she was frightened and depressed for a short while as her mother went through a mastectomy and began chemotherapy, a normal healthy response for anyone. Now my daughter’s records show that she has been denied by 2 insurance companies for a pre-existing thyroid condition and manic depression, none of which is true, yet I cannot clear her record.

My mother’s 15 years of pain:
When I was 8 years old I watched my father and brothers carry my mother up the stairs to her bedroom, screaming in pain. She was returning from surgery on a slipped disc in her low back, a surgery that is no longer performed because they discovered it caused more pain and damage than the condition it was meant to help. The doctors said there was nothing left but for her to live on painkillers. For years she took their prescription of Darvan Tran, until it was taken off the market when they found it caused irreparable nerve damage. For my entire childhood I barely saw my mother out of bed, and when she did move it was slowly, painfully in a full body brace; she had to crawl up the stairs. I went away to college and during my third year my mother called me one day, sobbing uncontrollably. It was the first day in 15 years that she felt no pain. She was off of her painkillers, out of her body brace, and capable once again of dancing with her husband. Nine months earlier, a friend began to pick her up and twice weekly bring her to a Chinese acupuncturist whose treatments healed her. Procedures unknown and unproven to western science, yet practiced and refined for thousands of years by cultures around the world.

Thank you for your consideration!

[Last of three parts of the report from the Dec. 15 Health Care discussion by the North Beach for Progress group.]

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