Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ch. 8 of my autobiography

I don't know for sure if it was a powerful influence on my present professional endeavor -- we tend to make sense out of our past but we might just be making up stories -- but nearly 20 years ago, in February of 1991, I very suddenly found myself in a hospital, a victim of major surgery. Some long-time readers suggest that I finish this story, which I started to tell here quite a while back. Rather than repeat the classic narrative structure of my previous attempt, I'm going to organize the discussion as best I can around issues. How far have we come since then, and what is unchanged?

Very Important Point #1: I had health insurance. I was an impecunious graduate student, and I probably would not have even thought about buying health insurance, but it was the law in Massachusetts that people enrolled in higher education had to have it. Brandeis could not have given me course credit if I didn't. This requirement, if I remember correctly, was about the only remnant of the failed health care reform legislation passed under the Michael Dukakis administration, and then repealed, because the business lobby refused to accept the requirement that medium to large businesses provide health insurance to employees.

As you know, the individual insurance market would not have offered an affordable product to many people. Lots of people with diabetes and other disqualifying conditions go to college and graduate school. However, the universities offered group insurance to students, at a good price. The product I had was actually catastrophic insurance. The idea is you can go to the university health service for routine care, with little or no out of pocket cost. But it was perfect for what happened to me. I was covered for hospital and surgical expenses, with only a small initial deductible -- or so the policy said.

To make a possibly interesting but not particularly relevant story short, I went to the Emergency Department at a Major Teaching Hospital of Harvard University (that's what they called themselves, on placards, business cards, bills and stationery) with what I believed to be acute appendicitis, which the physicians who saw me in the ED also concluded to be the case. But I did not have appendicitis, as I learned the very hard way.

To be continued.


robin andrea said...

I'm glad you are telling the rest of the story, cervantes.

kathy a. said...

my daughter is covered 2 ways -- our insurance, and the catastrophic one at her U. i always had U health care in college and graduate school, but fortunately did not need to test its limits.

my son, he is off and on insured via employment. we're very interested in putting him back on the family plan until he is 26, to avoid situations like that time he was uninsured and had injuries plus a major infection.