On Not Taking Health Care for Granted

I joined the Mercy Health Clinic board this year because I believe that everyone is entitled to high-quality health care and want to help them get it. All of us who support Mercy share that belief and desire, but to be honest, I only started giving that first notion truly serious thought over the past few years, when my own health concerns forced me to leave the workforce and a job I loved. At first, I spent more emotional energy mourning my lost work identity and trying to figure out how to stay relevant in the world; I was only just turning 50 at the time so I bristled at being wished a happy retirement. I jumped into various volunteering gigs to stay active and connected with people, and to avoid becoming defined in my own mind as a patient.

The condition I’m managing, multiple sclerosis, isn’t fatal in most cases. But the medication to attempt to keep it at bay is ferociously expensive, to the tune of over $5,000 a month. (Don’t ask me why any ingredient in a capsule justifies a price tag of $180 a day; that’s not what this post is about but it’s a great question for someone smarter than me.) I also have hypertension and high cholesterol, which are readily managed with daily medications and medical oversight. These meds aren’t nearly as pricey as my MS drug is, and nowhere near the cost of the complications they seek to prevent, but still not cheap.

Fortunately for me, I have health insurance. I pay a monthly premium for peace of mind, knowing that I’ll be able to stay on the medications and get the medical oversight I need to stay as healthy as possible. Despite the occasional headache in navigating the health care system (usually haggling over that expensive medication), I don’t lose any sleep over whether I’ll be able to do what I need to do to keep on keeping on.

As I have navigated my own health adventures, I’ve gained a fresh appreciation for those around us who do not have health insurance to achieve that peace of mind. In Montgomery County, about 65,000 people are in that boat, most because they lack sufficient income to pay for health insurance even with a subsidy or because of their immigration status. Many are one illness or injury away from financial catastrophe and its inevitable effects on employment and family security.

Fortunately for them, there is Mercy Health Clinic. Mercy is a lifeline for so many of our neighbors here in Montgomery County, providing health and wellness information and support, specialty medical care, lab services, and pharmaceutical services free of charge. I’m looking forward to helping spread the word about Mercy and continuing to contribute my time and financial support to help it stay ready to serve those in need.

–Pam Saussy, Board Member


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