Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sign a petition for better health care

This morning an email was waiting for me in my inbox: The American Diabetes Association is sponsoring an online petition, asking for health care reform for diabetics.

The current health care system needs to be changed. Health care reform needs to ensure:
- People are not denied coverage because they have diabetes or required to pay higher premiums because of they have a chronic disease
- Health insurance covers basic diabetes needs
- Access to the tools to prevent diabetes
- An end to the racial and ethnic disparities in how diabetes affects Americans

Please sign this petition and take a stand for better health care for diabetics!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Young invincibles, my @$$

An article ran today about how President Obama is going to require young adults under 30 to buy health insurance. The article talks about how young adults ages 19 to 29 are thought of as "young invincibles," and get away with not buying health insurance because this age group is generally pretty healthy. Of course, that hurts everyone else, because the whole idea of insurance is that the risks and costs of a small minority are borne by the whole population and therefore made more manageable for everyone.

There's only one problem with this.

Young invincibles, my @$$.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 22. I had spent a year or two without health insurance myself, but luckily the year before I'd gone back to school and therefore was covered again under my parents' insurance. I can only imagine how much trouble I'd have been in had I not been covered.

So actually, requiring this age group to buy health insurance will help more than just health care reform. It'll also help those young adults who have type 1 diabetes and other conditions lurking in their bodies, just waiting to make themselves known!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are the insurance companies gearing up for health care reform?

And by "gearing up," I don't mean anything nice.

I wouldn't be surprised if the health insurance companies are a little bit worried about losing money when the reform bill passes. (Notice I said when, not if — I think something will pass, the only question is whether or not it will have a public option.) Something my mom told me about the other day certainly makes me wonder if this kind of thing is a preemptive strike, to lock in certain discriminatory policies before health care reform makes it impossible for them to makes these kinds of changes.

My mom was talking to someone at her work who has type 2 diabetes. Since it's a state job, they don't pay a very large portion of the employee's health insurance policy, so he has Kaiser — a health insurance company in Colorado that has all its own doctors, and is therefore usually cheaper than other insurance companies.

Anyway, they apparently decided they were losing too much money on him, so they cancelled his policy. Yep — just up and cancelled it. This is apparently a growing trend: A recent article talked about the growing number of rescissions, which is where insurance companies drop policyholders because they cost too much. The insurance companies, of course, claim it's because of fraud, but we know better.

In this man's case, however, they cancelled his policy, then told him to reapply. His new policy cost four or five times more than the old one, which seems to be why they cancelled his policy: so that they could raise his rates.

To add insult to injury, it turned out that he also had to make a deposit for the new policy to take effect — and they withdrew the money directly out of his account. This was, of course, hidden in the 30 pages of small print in the contract.

This seems to be the case with other insurance companies, as well. A survey was done that indicates health costs will be rising. It sounds like employers are coping with rising policy costs by passing on some of the price increases to their employees.

If you ask me, I think health insurance companies are concerned about the possibility that a health care reform bill will pass; I'm sure the thought of a public option particularly alarms them. To cope, I think they are raising costs across the board, and doing what they ccan now to dump (or overcharge) policyholders who cost them money. After all, when the legislation does pass, they may not be able to raise costs again (or discriminate against people) so easily, so they are probably trying to lock in as many of these changes as possible now!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Good news!

I forgot to blog about my recent visit to my endocrinologist. You might remember that I've been monitoring my A1c pretty closely this year, due to a pretty high result earlier in the year. Well, during this recent visit my A1c was just 7.1 — just barely lower than the last time, and showing some signs of stabilizing.

Also, I talked to my doctor about my high TSH reading, and he said not to worry about it yet — it's not high enough to treat. We are going to test it again at my next visit, though. The doc said it may keep going up, but I'm hoping it was a fluke reading and will return to normal levels.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Maintaining your blood sugar when you're sick

I was recently sick with either a very severe cold or the flu, and spent most of the time sleeping and/or completely miserable. I find it to be rather challenging to check my blood sugar when I'm that sick, but of course it's pretty important that you do so.

Getting sick used to be much more dangerous for type 1 diabetics, because meals and snacks were planned around insulin regimens, and skipping a meal or a snack could cause you to crash. Of course, if you have the flu, this could be extremely challenging, because everything you eat tends to come right back up again!

Luckily, with modern insulin regimens — i.e., either Lantus and Humalog or the pump — it is much easier to maintain your blood sugar when you're sick. The only thing that I've found is that when I eat significantly less for a day or two, I tend to need less Lantus until my calorie intake picks back up again. To deal with this, I backed my nighttime dose off by a couple of units while I was at my sickest. And of course, I didn't take any Humalog unless I was correcting or eating something, so I didn't have any problems with crashing while I was sick.

I actually think that with modern insulin regimens, high blood sugars are more problematic than lows when you're sick. If you've got the flu, you're already in danger of dehydration — then add in further dehydration caused by high blood sugar, and you're really in trouble. And since (at least in my experience) my blood sugar tends to run higher when my body is under a lot of physical stress, this is something I really have to watch.

Here are some tips for remembering to check your blood sugar when you're sick:

* Set a timer
* Test every time you take medicine
* Enlist a family member to help remind you
* Keep a written record of all BG test results and insulin doses while you're sick

What about you? Any tricks you've learned for maintaining your blood sugar while you're sick?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is President Obama's health care reform making a comeback?

After several months of disappointing headlines, it seems that health care reform might be making a comeback.

Despite Fears, Health Care Overhaul Is Moving Ahead

From the article:

Despite tensions between moderate and liberal Democrats, there is broad agreement within the party over most of what a package would look like. Four of the five Congressional committees considering health care legislation have already passed bills. Each would require all Americans to have insurance and provide government subsidies for those who cannot afford it. Each would bar insurance companies from refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions; imposing lifetime caps on coverage; or dropping people when they get sick.

This pretty much covers all the things that are important to me, except one: Any real health care reform really needs to regulate policy costs, particularly for people with pre-existing conditions. By forcing the insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions but not setting any limits on policy costs, you're pretty much guaranteeing that the health insurance companies will respond by pricing these people's policies out of any normal person's reach.

President Obama is supposed to be making a speech tonight at 8 pm Eastern time. Like last time, I'll try to find the video afterward and post it to my blog. Let's hope this speech marks the beginning of renewed momentum on the issue!