Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Senate Testimony

First things first, please take some time to view a newbie to the blogosphere:
Suzanne has posted a piece entitled 12 Diseases you may not know you have (, outlining some insidious diseases with obscure symptoms that may go unrecognized.
More importantly, she's bringing attention to the need for more x-ray technicians and where anybody inspired can go to become educated in
this growing health care field.
Like nursing, x-ray techs enjoy a plethora of benefits, and who doesn't want to work with fabulous patients like me?

Below is my testimony for today. It's been a while, and I had to concentrate more on writing this piece than I have in the past, but hopefully it drives the point home.

Thank you for allowing me to offer testimony in support of Senate Bills 392 and 505. As a young wife, mother, Registered Nurse, and cancer patient I am very excited about the possible passage of the proposed bills.

In 2006, at the age of twenty-three, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I felt reassured that my treatment would go smoothly since I had graduated number one in my class with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I was employed as a critical care and emergency department registered nurse, and I had every insurance available to a young, nonsmoking health care profe

ssional with no pre-existing conditions. These insurances included a health care plan through my spouse, short term and long term disability insurance, and life insurance.

I was as educated and prepared for a health care catastrophe as any person could possibly be, especially at 23 years old. Even with me out of work, I was confidant my husband, an aerospace engineer could sustain the household.

In the past four years, I have had to wage a ba

ttle for my life, undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and two bone marrow transplants.

I have fought my cancer alongside another strenuous, uphill battle: a battle to sustain my livelihood due to astronomical healthcare costs.

Upon Diagnosis, I was making $65,000 yearly as an RN with shift differentials, over time, and bonuses. My base pay, however, was $36,900. When I became sick, short-term disability insurance covered 60% of my base pay.

My new, sick, yearly income equaled $22,140.

Immediately upon diagnosis, I took a $42,860 pay cut.

My very first procedure, the biopsy to confirm my diagnosis, reached my 2006 insurance deductable of $2500. We paid $250 monthly for coverage at that time or $5500 total yearly cost, excluding co-payments, co-deductable and other expenses.

My first year treatment costs were more than the entirety of my income.

Four years later, my insurance deductable is $4,000 with a monthly payment to maintain insurance at $400 for our family of three. Our family of three pays a minimum of $8800 yearly for healthcare.

This is a base health insurance increase of 65.2% in four years. This does not include co-payments, co-insurance, traveling, lodging, and other expenses.

During the same period, my income has not increased. Health care costs are driving us farther into debt.

Our yearly healthcare expenses average $20,000. My income for 2009 from Social Security Disability was $20, 562.

Statistically, when debt exceeds a person’s annual income, they are bankrupt and will never have the ability to repay debt. My health care costs alone almost exceed my total income from social security and could bankrupt my family.

This is for a family that is education in the health care system, has been employed in the health care system, and has complete insurance coverage.

It is imperative to patients like me that New Hampshire begins addressing health coverage costs and how these costs contribute to increased coverage premiums so we can fight our diseases with the safety net of fair, reasonable, and affordable insurance rates that allow us access to quality care.

SB 392 and SB 505 are important steps toward helping patients like me. Both bills move New Hampshire towards a transparent system where all parties have an avenue to understand and address system flaws and remedy them through open communication.

Transparency is a proven method of health care cost reduction. In the late 1990s Life Insurance Rates dropped drastically. Suddenly, American consumers were paying 1 billion less yearly for life insurance premiums.

A 1999 a study in “Political Economy” magazine researched the sudden drastic reduction in life insurance costs to consumers and concluded the cause was on-line comparison sites.

Suddenly, what was once a difficult task of comparing rates and benefits was easy.

Consumers could pick the best option for the best prices in under and hour.

Consumers were now informed and companies could no longer leverage their knowledge against the consumer’s fear of being unprotected.

The same similar phenomenon has been seen in the automobile insurance industry.

Senate Bill 392, through making repayment negotiations and reimbursement practices between different hospitals and insurance companies public knowledge, would provide policy makers, hospitals, insurers, patients, and all citizens with the information we need to understand the full range of factors causing the rise in health care costs and premiums.

Having this information hidden has allowed costs to fluctuate dramatically between otherwise equally qualified medical facilities to the detriment of the consumer, and at a price much higher than money, at the cost of our health, and at the costs of peoples’ lives.

Until we understand the full range of contributors to health coverage costs, we cannot determine how to address them. I support Senate Bill 392 in hopes of securing fair, equitable health care costs for all patients across all facilities.

I support SB 392 alongside SB 505.

The presentation of Senate Bill 505 and the proposed commission offers hope that patients like me will be given a public voice where we currently have none by creating an avenue that holds all parties within health care accountable for their practices.

Currently, any complaint that is filed with the insurer or hospital allows for possible, repercussions, such as the companies’ refusal to pay for or provide further needed medical treatment.

The commission could hold public hearings to allow citizens to state the reasonableness of rates and provide a safety net where there currently is none.

It would also ensure that rates are equitable for all insurers and that charges or actions are not discriminatory.

We patients would finally have a committee to advocate on behalf of us.

The Health Care Cost Commission in SB 505 would also establish and enforce a currently used, successful model of cost regulation from other states, such as Maryland’s commission that is estimated to have saved the state health care costs by as much as 40 billion, which is successful by making costs transparent among insurers and hospitals.

This action in Maryland has encouraged all parties to set prices based on cost of care vs. market rates.

A NH Health Commission could put theories into action to provide efficient, quality care at reasonable rates.

NH has the opportunity to protect our sick and make our state one of the best places to access healthcare in the country, and approving Senate Bill 392 and 505 would be a step in the right direction.

I, personally, thank you and appreciate the legislature’s efforts to make the health care system as efficient and effective as possible for patients/consumers like my family.

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