Main Street by Roger Allen, publisher — March 25, 2010

This is not funny

Don’t skim down for the joke. There isn’t any. But I do have a story to tell.

I’m an old guy and my kidneys have failed. Used to be, I’d die pretty quickly from that. But kidney dialysis can allow me to live a fairly normal life. Millions of people the world around are on kidney dialysis.

I started peritoneal dialysis in January after getting a catheter installed in my abdomen at St. Mary’s Hospital. With help from Audrey at Renal Advantage Inc. (RAI) in Rockford, I learned to do my own dialysis and began to feel better. Yay!

Being old enough for Medicare, I opted for a private umbrella insurance company instead of the usual two-tier Medicare with Medigap arrangement. Medicare (“the public option”) hasn’t failed me. But the private enterprise, for-profit company, has failed me big time. Its name is Humana. Boo!

On March 1, I got a letter from Humana, CANCELLING MY HEALTH INSURANCE RETROACTIVE TO JANUARY 1. Can they DO that? I sure would like to know the answer to that question.

Meanwhile, Humana’s form-letter reply to my startled inquiry said they’d get back to me in 30 days.

So I haven’t been covered since January 1. The hospital and surgeon’s bill for my catheter? Humana wants no part of it. My services at RAI? Humana wants no part of it. My four-times-a-day dialysis supplies? Humana wants no part of it. I have what’s called ESRD, or End Stage Renal Disease. Humana apparently wants no part of ESRD.

A national health insurance bill passed Congress on Sunday night. It’s an imperfect bill, but it’s something that we, as a nation, can work to improve in the future. It begins (but only begins) to pull some power away from the health insurance industry. I’m currently a victim of that power.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen Humana’s glossy advertising that comes in the mail to friends. And Humana’s TV ads are sooo seductive.

My kidneys and I wholeheartedly agree with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who said the other day that it’s critical that WE get the power to limit “the predatory role of private insurers who make money NOT providing health care.”

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