Last week I wrote a piece about what happens to people when they don’t have medical insurance and the troubles it creates in the long run. I’m writing this piece because my fear is that those of you without insurance or even those of you who do but decide you know better than your doctor are often, literally, taking your life in your own hands. I’m talking about taking responsibility for your health, but making life and death decisions that may not end up working in your favor.
The last post centered around my co-worker who is having serious side effects from his high blood pressure medication. The Nurse Practitioner (NP) wanted him to come in for an EKG, but he’s currently working out-of-state and couldn’t go into the office. Instead of finding a local medical facility to do the EKG, he has simply avoided the issue altogether. The NP wanted him to call back in a few days, or sooner if he’s still having symptoms. At this point-in-time he still hasn’t made that follow-up call.
On Tuesday I asked him if he’s still having symptoms and he replied in the affirmative. He’d had some beers (not that he’s a big drinker) and then had to take another pill in the middle of the night. Do you think he has called the NP to discuss the symptoms? The answer is a big, fat, NO!!!
Here’s the difficult part, I don’t think he’s trying to place his health in danger, but I do believe he’s worried about what the medical bills will do to his financial situation. Prior to this job he’d been out of work for 13 months. The problem is that without medical care, five months of work won’t benefit his family in the long run if he’s permanently disabled or dies. I keep wondering if he has a big life insurance policy to protect his family.
Since I can’t force him to go to the doctor all I can do is to continue to be inquisitive about his health. perhaps if I’m persistent enough he’ll finally decide to take the actions he needs to protect his health and potentially his life. My fear is that when people don’t have medical insurance they become, out of necessity, penny wise and pound foolish. One trip to the emergency room will wipe him out financially, especially with the amount of tests they’ll end up running on him.
I guess I wouldn’t be hounding but he bought a new computer last week. He can afford a computer, but can’t afford the EKG? That’s something I just don’t understand and certainly wouldn’t approach him to explain. When a computer is more important than your health what’s the message you’re sending to you body, to your loved ones, and to the world.
I urge you to consider what you do because you don’t have health insurance, especially if you have some type of chronic or life-altering health challenge and how to make better decisions. Find a social worker at a community health center who may know resource that can assist you for low-cost or no-cost care. Don’t wait for something to happen…this is the time to be pro-active.
I continually hope that my co-worker will wake up one day after having some symptoms and say to himself, “Gee, maybe I should look into this”. I can’t insert thoughts into his head, but I can prime the pump, but he’s got to make the final decision.