Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Struggle with Heart Disease and The High Price of Staying Alive

Many of you know about my 20 year battle with Heart Disease.  A life long runner, I was on a leisurely 8 mile run after work in Atlanta Georgia when I had my first heart attack.

I was cruising along at a 7-8 min per mile clip when I suddenly collapsed on a dark peach tree lined road in 1998. I was 38 yrs old.  After a few moments of Dizziness I struggled to my feet and started a slow jog.  2 minutes later I collapsed again.  Attributing the collapse to fatigue, I stayed down for a few minutes to catch my breath and made a promise to take some much needed time off when I returned on to Utah.

The next day I flew home and ended up in the ER that night where I underwent coronary bypass surgery.  I was lucky, 30 yrs of continuous running had saved my life.  I had lost 25% of my heart but within one month I was well on the road to recovery and began to run again, thankful for a second chance at life.  The cost? $363,000...Thank god for a health insurance plan that paid more than 90% of the cost.

I returned to my normal life, running, skiing and Golf.  Over the years the .doctors came to the conclusion that genetics, more than any other factor, was the key ingredient in my attacks...

Think about that...I ate healthy, exercised (ran 30 miles a week), did not smoke, was not obese, no drugs.....I did everything I was supposed to, but, by luck of the draw (or grace of god?), I was blessed with heart disease.

12 years later, even  after regular checkups, tests and ,medications, I suffered another series of debilitating heart attacks that left me with so little heart function that I am appraised every 3 months by a team of transplant Doctors to determine if I need a heart transplant.  The cost for the second set of bypass grafts?  $600,000.  I am on my second Pacemaker/ cost for those two devices?  Over $200,000.  Once again, a great insurance plan has paid for most of the cost.

When you add up the cost of premiums and out of Pocket expenses I am lucky to only pay $12,000-$15,000 dollars a year to stay alive.

I have spent a great deal of time pondering the high cost of staying alive and I am truly thankful that I have a great Job with a salary that makes the high price of my living only cost a fraction of the total cost...Simple math shows that I have had more than $1-$1.5 million spent on my behalf. Just to keep me alive....

This blog started more than a year ago when I read about the price gouging of common prescription drugs Daraprim a live saving AIDS medication went from $13.50 a pill to $750 PER PILL overnight.

More recently Eppipens, made by MYLAN,  jumped from less than $100 per pen to $700....coinciding with a law that requires all schools to have them on hand.  All because or bought and paid for politicians can not set price controls, another Big Pharma law.  Do you think it is a coincidence that the president of MYLAN is also the daughter or Democrat Joe Manchin the Senator from West Virginia??

It has culminated today because my team of  Doctors want to start me on a new cardiac medicine just coming into the market.   My monthly copay will be $291

I state again, I am grateful that I can afford this cost, but, what if my salary was only $75K or $100K?....$15K annual out of pocket would have driven me to bankruptcy by now....I shudder to think about the cost for those less fortunate than I.  You see, I remember not having enough money to make it thru month and juggling bills and bill collectors....praying for that next check...I will never forget.

Or worse...what if I had NO insurance?  I would probably be dead now.....

So folks spare me your hate... AFFORDABLE healthcare for all our a basic HUMAN RIGHT. I will not shut up until all of my fellow brother and sister Americans have access at a reasonable cost.

I will be as blunt and direct as I can.  If you do not believe in affordable healthcare for all. you:
A.  Are Lucky to have never been ill....just wait you will be.
B.  Naive...Get educated.
C.  Willfully Ignorant....I can't fix stupid...wont even try.
D. Just plain mean.....Please get out of my life, I don't need you

But for the grace of god I would be dead now....

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