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Today is Blog Action Day and if you’ve been a subscriber to my website for the last year, you would know that I wrote for Blog Action Day last year and talked about environmental education through photography. Each year, a different topic is chosen for Blog Action Day (last year’s was about the environment); this year the topic is POVERTY. Today, thousands of bloggers throughout the world will be writing about poverty as a way to raise awareness and unite discussion on the topic.
I was a bit more prepared for last year’s Blog Action Day than I am today. In fact, I almost forgot about it until I woke up this morning and found a reminder in my email box. So even if you aren’t already registered and want to write about poverty today, head over to the Blog Action Day website and register your blog. Even if you don’t have a public website or blog, you can still take place by writing somewhere else…Myspace, Facebook, for example.
Given that we’re faced with an economic crisis and the 2008 Presidential Election is happening in just a few short weeks, I can’t help but to think about the link between poverty and poor health in the United States. Just a couple of months ago, the Census Bureau reported that the official poverty rate has increased to 12.5% (from 12.3%) in just one year. Through the Bureau’s Community Survey, it was found that 37.3 million Americans were living in poverty and 45.7 million people were living without health insurance. Research and documentation has shown that people living in extreme poverty tend to be less healthy with chronic illnesses and have more frequent and severe complications from diseases that make great demands on our current healthcare system.
My parents have always hounded me to make sure that I have health insurance coverage. In the past when I was younger, healthy, and thought I knew everything, I didn’t see the big deal. I’m sure that I fit into a bundle of many other people in this country who don’t realize the importance of health insurance. Some of us have had health insurance all of our lives. We don’t know what it’s like to live without it. We don’t know what it’s like to have a chronic illness or faced with a surgery that could cost us thousands of dollars if we were left without it.
I’m not living in poverty. I have health insurance. But like millions of other Americans, not having health insurance would be like not having water. I would probably be living on the streets or dead. Besides the fact that I rely on doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals to provide me with healthcare when I am sick, I also seem to have reoccurring kidney stones. In 2005 alone, I had 3 surgeries. If I didn’t have health insurance, each surgery alone would have cost me $30,000 ($120,000 total) for JUST the hospital time….not including the things that go along with it such as x-rays, doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, etc. A surgery this year left me paying $3,000 out of pocket (only 10% of the hospital bill), which is affordable for me, but still might not be affordable to someone living on an income below the poverty line, someone with a family to support, or someone who has a chronic illness that has equivalent hospital care several times a year. The possibilities are endless.
Millions of people are losing jobs and health insurance along with it. More and more people are living in poverty and poor health. And no matter how much money you make, you never know if it could all be taken away from you at the drop of a hat. This is real, people. I don’t want this post to turn into a bunch of babble about why voting in the upcoming election is important, but it is. Just the other day, I was talking to my mom who said that her one vote didn’t make that much difference anyway. Every vote IS important. Besides voting for the political candidates, you also get to express your vote for issues at hand in your county, township, and community. And in smaller areas of the country such as these, every vote really does count.
Anyway, I don’t have any statistical facts to throw out at you or any mind-blowing news, but here is one thing that I haven’t written about on my blog yet that could be helpful to many of my readers.
I’ve recently done some work with the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA). Have you seen that big orange bus on TV that is endorsed by Montel Williams and drives all around the country? Yeah, that’s the one. Well, it seems like a lot of people have heard about it; I don’t know or understand the purpose of the bus. The PPA includes pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and other healthcare providers, patient advocacy groups and community organizations. They help qualifying patients who lack prescription coverage get the medications that they need for free or close to free through the public or private programs. The PPA offers more the 475 patient assistance programs and more than 180 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. I had no idea about this program, like many people, until I worked with them. I saw one woman who applied for the program right on the spot for her new husband who had serious asthma. The program helped reduce their prescription drug costs by thousands of dollars per month. She was estatic and crying because she was so happy. It changed their lives in just a few minutes. It’s an amazing program and I wish more people knew about it. If you would like to apply for the Partnership for Prescription Assistance to see if you qualify for any prescription program, you can do so on their website. The whole thing is free and there are no catches. It’s an amazing program and I suggest everyone spread the word about it if you know someone without health insurance or someone who is struggling with the prices of their prescription drugs. Most of us know someone!