Every Picture Tells a Story

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© John Linton
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From left to right: Me, T., K., and T.’s husband at an Irish pub in Montmartre, Paris, France during the incredibly hot summer of 2003.

T. was in the midst of her fight against breast cancer and decided to join our school trip through parts of Europe. While the rest of us traveled by bus from Barcelona to Nice, T. and her husband took a train to Lourdes to pray for a cure. K. went with them because he speaks fluent French and they could not make the trip without him. They all caught up with us by the time we made it to Nice.

T.’s husband is a CPA which is a good thing because he handled the mountains of paperwork and endless battles with T.’s HMO and employer so that she could concentrate on fighting the big C. Her fight lasted 5 years before she succumbed to the disease. T.’s husband had to battle for her the entire time (and even after her death).

Later, K. was diagnosed with cancer of the left vocal cord in late 2006. He went through radiation and had to have his vocal cords removed when the radiation failed. He has a stoma now and speaks through a device that he holds up to his throat. The latest scan to see if the cancer is still there was “inconclusive.”

At no time over the last 2 1/2 years has he not found himself in a battle with his employer or HMO. The last couple of emails we have exchanged:

K.:

“Now that the State of RI has declared me totally disabled to carry out any job for which I am qualified, they granted me Ordinary Disability Retirement. Taking into account just my "take home" pay from working, versus my "take home" pay from Disability Retirement, I am down quite a bit. Then, subtracting from Disability Retirement the $700+/mo I pay in COBRA to keep some health insurance - which will end by this time next year when I will become "uninsurable" unless the State lets me pay even more for even less on their policy, or I die first, I am WAY down the economic ladder now. Medicaid will not be an option unless and until I am flat, flat broke. Neither is any form of Social Security Disablility an option because I had not paid into SS Disability within the past three years. The Social Security Administration outright told me not to even bother applying for ANY SS option. I did anyhow, and was turned down due to income, assets, etc.

So, without getting into specifics of dollars and cents, because it is all relative, I will tell you that I have as spendable income, to cover all my out of pocket living expenses each month, some 37% of what I had when I was working. That alone is 13% less than the minimum retirement I could have had if I had been eligible for "normal retirement". Unfortunately for me, even buying some years, I still fell short.
So, as you worry about your own retirement, the continuing changes to the State's Plan, and whether or not to "buy in those years", keep in mind that you are only one disease away from the "37% Solution" to your worries.”
My reply:
“I image you are watching "the health care show" or what passes for a show at these "town hall meetings." Is there anything they are thinking about doing that would help you out?”
K.’s reply:
“Don't EVEN get me started on "The Heath Care Show". I have NEVER seen such abilities to knowingly lie with a straight face - even after teaching all those years - that some of these people are displaying. They act as if adolescence is a permanent, viable way of life to deal with social issues. Pouting, stomping their feet, spouting vitriol, shouting as if Jerry Springer were running the show, how much younger can they get? I get the impression that everyone, on either side, is being paid to attend by someone, and show up as if they were Disney Cast Members to bring the rest of the nation into their own Fantasyland.
Everyone knew this freak show was going to happen in August, it is why the Democratic strategists wanted the bill before now, and why the Republicans insisted on stalling it so that they could whip it enough to kill it. It didn't take much intelligence to see that. They whine about "government rationing". Having been a patient now for 2 1/2 straight years, I have never heard such rationing horror stories as the private HMO's dole out already. If you had seen the paperwork I had to do and have others do for me, as well as all the phone calls made for me in order to get a measly $100/mo from R. Ins. Company that WPSchools uses as their short and long-term disability insurer, you'd have a great idea as to how health care will go under only private insurance companies. They had us duplicate every document and test from every doctor and hospital I had visited over the past 2 years - no small task in itself; so they could review it and come to a determination as to my ability to work or not. This, mind you, even after that were assured by the independent review doctor hired by the State in order to make the State's determination that I was totally disabled and dying from metastatic cancer. The STATE's determination wasn't good enough for them! There were thousands of dollars and many man hours spent for a benefit that will last at the maximum $100/mo for 10 years - and I will be dead before then. That's thousands of dollars spent against a maximum loss payout of $12,000..even when the State tells them I am dying.
I loved the guy who was so irate that the government might get into the health care business and screw it up for him. And he is on Medicare/Medicaid. Where do they pluck these people from?...
Does that about sum my views up for ya?”
My link below is a song for the HMO CEO’s to dance to while they rake in even more profits and bonuses now that their plan to scare America into not making any changes that might limit their good life seems to have worked…yet again. I have to hand it to them. They know how to get what they want.
Sony CyberShot DSC-S50 camera

picnik resize and Lomo-ish effect

08/09/03

23 responses

  • dp *

    dp * gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    Whata' mess we have gotten ourselves. Sorry for your friends. A joyful photo though. dp

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham (Deleted) gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    When I was a poor single mother of three, I had to fight the medicaid office. When I finished college and got on the work HMO plan, I battled them. It is all about greed and people to sorry and stupid to get off their butts and make a logical decision. I will send prayers for your friend John. He should be allowed to spend his time and energy fighting the cancer and enjoying his friends and family. Not the other crap.

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham (Deleted) said (22 Aug 2009):

    A great shot of everyone having fun!

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    I think everyone knows someone who has been through a similar nightmare. I think the Michael Moore movie, 'Sicko' is a must see and certainly sheds light on the disaster they call 'health care' in the US. My heart goes out to your friend; I agree with Regenia--he should be enjoying the time he has rather than spending it in a constant battle. Thank you for sharing this poignant communication.

  • Warren ~Mangione~

    Warren ~Mangione~ gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    So sorry to hear about T. and K. If I get started on this, I will be typing for days! I agree with K. about his observations of the behavior on the Health Care Show! Where is the coherent, intelligent debate? Someone on CNN suggested that CNN hold townhall meetings across the country. I don't see that happening any time soon. Bottom line, we need reform! Private insurance insures only one thing, a long battle to try to get them to pay! They know disabled people don't have money for lawyers to fight them. So they just tie people up in endless paperwork, evaluations and loop holes to keep from paying! IT's Disgusting!

  • Warren ~Mangione~

    Warren ~Mangione~ gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    Loved the video!

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    a very moving story, John. Thank you for sharing.

  • Michael Ellis

    Michael Ellis gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    Right on, John and everyone!

  • Ann Reece

    Ann Reece   gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    What a sad but very moving story about your friends.

  • eithne mythen

    eithne mythen gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    And a great night was had by all, nice memories of better times, everyone here gives out about the Health Service but I have to say that I got great service in my recent brush with cancer, maybe I was one of the lucky ones certainly lucky that i am still here to tell the tail..

  • eithne mythen

    eithne mythen gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    Of course that should be "tale" but I'm not typing it again lol..

  • Martin E. Morris

    Martin E. Morris (Deleted) said (22 Aug 2009):

    Here I am sitting feeling sorry for myself and then I read this.It just goes to show that there are far many people worse off than me.I think it is very sad when a country does not look after it's own people.It is the same over here unless you are prepared to go through endless converstions with people who have been trained to mislead and misinform.What a sad world we live in.I truly hope K's situation and health turns around.A great shot of happier times!!!

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    As a Canadian,,our plan isn't perfect,,no plan is,,but I have had many experiences with our healthcare system,,my mother, my father, my kids had their babies, my husband, we have all used Medicare,,it is doable,,in the US if people would only give it a chance...sorry about your friends, I wish him well, and I hope something will give soon in the US,,..my heart goes out to all those poor citizens who are struggling with no healthy insurance....by the way,,nice pic JL

  • Nelson Campbell

    Nelson Campbell (Deleted) gave props (22 Aug 2009):

    A whole lot of expletives come to mind - I will just say John Linton - Thank you for posting this.

  • Suzanne McGeady

    Suzanne McGeady said (22 Aug 2009):

    What goes around, comes around! Hope in the end it is realised that it is all about people, people, people...not bl**dy profit!! Strength to the proliterians! Blessings to John and almighty strength.

    May the past happiness of this photo be recaptured again, and again...

  • Rob Roy

    Rob Roy (Deleted) gave props (23 Aug 2009):

    VERY sobering, John! ...and sad :~(

  • Michael Ball

    Michael Ball gave props (23 Aug 2009):

    I don't know what else can be said! Thanks for sharing John!!

  • Judy Wanamaker

    Judy Wanamaker (Deleted) gave props (23 Aug 2009):

    Years of greed and neglect have caused the situation with the HMOs. Unfortunately, the same conditions exist in government. Until human nature is conquered, there will be this problem. I feel so bad for T. and K., because they are truly victims of the HMO system. I will pray that God will straighten this whole mess out, knowing that He is the only one who can.

  • Maura Wolfson-Foster

    Maura Wolfson-Foster gave props (23 Aug 2009):

    You said it so well John. No words.

  • Jim Hart

    Jim Hart gave props (24 Aug 2009):

    only in america do people get outraged IN SUPPORT of the very players who are profiting from their misery -- thanks for this, john.

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (29 Aug 2009):

    This is a wonderfully happy photo of then. Another horror story and all that the government does is bicker, they don't do anything to make things better, they need to do something positive and earn their living! Your friend and others deserve to have health insurance coverage in order to live a decent life without financial worries so they can get on and fight their various ailments and enjoy their families. Your story is so true and needs to be told again and again it seems John, you said it well and thank you.

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (29 Aug 2009):

    Your story here is an eye opener and thank you for presenting it to the public...I sometimes think the health care system is better in other countries than it is here in the states. I am so sorry about your friends and the problems they encountered...This picture really does tell a story in more ways than one.

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