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National Health Care Forum Stories

On December 4, 2008, UH Downtown Center for Public Deliberation and the Houston Public Library hosted over 120 citizens to deliberate together in small groups and to consider the rising cost of health care. All kinds of citizens came, including doctors, insurance providers, users, medical students, non-profit workers, employers, and more.

They gathered together so that their policy leaders might listen to their perspectives, experiences, and values. They talked about solutions, including which solutions they could live with and the trade-offs they would be willing to make as a result. A fuller report is presently being compiled about what we learned as we deliberated together. Some people wrote stories they asked that the leaders hear; these stories are posted below.    

William Nowak
The largest challenge recently was related to a surgery for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome on my leg.  Even though I have good insurance through work, I neglected to double-check that my doctor truly had authorization from Blue Cross-Blue Shield to perform the operation since his office told me specifically he was changing clinics in order to comply with my insurance.  But in the end, Blue Cross-Blue Shield found a way to deny coverage - although the clinic took my ‘co-pay’, as expected -  I had to swallow most of the costs, and I had to pay almost $1500 more than I’d expected.

I am not in favor of private insurance companies and the game they play of escaping legitimate coverage in order to make a profit -- profit off of people’s health. Nationalize insurance NOW!

Patricia Rios Guerra
I suffered from epilepsy, DHD, and migraines. The price of prescriptions and co-payments has increased so much that it really makes it hard for me to afford all of them added to my expenses.  I thank you Texas Legislators for listening to our concerns and hopefully you can solve this problem that many of us face in the United States.

LaChandra Noel
Not being able to afford a doctor’s visit or emergency care.

Carina Campuzano
The most recent example I can think of is my aunt’s stomach cancer. Without healthcare she has been forced to attempt to receive care at the Hospital. When they told her case was too advanced to surgically remove her tumors, they sent her home with bad news and seemingly no solution. She was told chemo may slow down the progression of her tumors and that was pretty much it. Very close to the same time, I was suffering from symptoms that convinced my PCP to send me to a GI Specialist. He told me that though my symptoms may be X or Y controllable disease, I may also be facing colon cancer. I would have to undergo a colonoscopy to find out. Two days prior to my procedure I was informed that I would be asked to pay $2100 up-front. I did what I had to do to obtain the finances through family help. This was a substantial amount for me and I am still paying it today, but I was blessed in that I had a support system. With that said, not having the procedure was not an option. Without that help, I don’t know what I would have done.

Clint Springer
I work for the Harris County Sheriff’s office and cannot believe the jump mode in premiums when the county switched from Blue Cross-Blue Shield to Aetna. Approximately $600 per month is extracted to cover me and my family. It’s gotten ridiculous. The Houston Police Dept. is paying approximately half that amount and it just doesn’t make sense except for insurance companies lining their pockets.

Mary Catherine Cousins
I have been fortunate in that my health is very good. I paid a bit of money, over $500/month, for health care and received no benefit when I worked for myself. Now, my employer is paying over $500/month and I have received nothing for it. It’s extortion.

Donna Joy Press
As a city employee, I fortunately have health care coverage. However, the out-of-pocket cost is still incredible: co-pays, many prescriptions cost $45/month, hospital and emergency room co-pays. If I lost my job I would be unable to receive treatment for my health issues. Money may not provide happiness, but money certainly provides access to health. Health care is required for “life”. Liberty is meaningless and the pursuit of happiness is impossible without “good health”. Perhaps the federal government should fund research and allow the free market to manufacture pharmaceuticals. Competition would increase and the excuse of the high cost of research would be moot. Lawsuits are not the solution for malpractice, especially since the insurance industry pays out, not the malpractice culprits.

Julia Land
I was in a car accident recently. Luckily I was not injured, but my doctor’s office told me I needed to pay cash and get my own reimbursement from my car insurance.

Matthew Thompson
PRESCRIPTION PRICES are out of control. I am paying $400/month out of pocket because it’s cheaper in the long run. Increase the availability of generics and put limits on prices.

Craig Kuehne Jr.
I am very healthy and have not had many hospital visits. I would like to pay less, because I am usually a healthy person.

Ryan VanRamshorst
Most of the children I see at the county hospital do not get the health care they need and deserve.

Tynisha Scott
As a person who has struggled with mental illness for a number of years, it has been very problematic to find coverage depleted year after year. When I have to pay $1,000 per session with a doctor for medication refill as a fulltime college student, the additional stress is taxing to say the least. When you forget about those whose ailments aren’t so visible, it’s easy to marginalize the importance of the care they receive. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are taxed (unfairly) by such an ignorant position on care.

Fred Brieden
Changing weighs heavy on your mind, with the risk of losing coverage from your insurance. Also, I believe it isn't fair that part-time employment doesn't offer any insurance.

Treena Rowan
I dropped my health insurance at work.

Gabriel Gonzalez
As a self-employed person is very hard to get any kind on insurance especially is you have any pre-existing condition.