I spend a lot of time, energy and pixels telling anyone I can get to listen or even trap on an elevator with me how great my public-funded healthcare is, how much peace of mind I have as a result and how it pains me that every American doesn’t have what I enjoy.
Now I am going to tell you another story, one that is being grappled with by our family.
I recently found out that one of the cousins I grew up with and who has kids the same age as mine has grandchild number three on the way, but the joyous occasion is marred by our healthcare system.
See, prenatal screening showed that the baby isn’t perfect. She has a congenital defect known as Gastroschisis, which in layman’s terms is a hole in the abdominal wall that is open near the umbilical cord insertion site, future site of her belly button. As a result of this hole in her abdominal wall, some of her intestines are outside her abdominal cavity. She will be delivered early, we are hoping to keep her inside until 36 weeks gestation, and her mother, M. is going in for stress tests almost daily. If the doctors get concerned enough, she could literally be here any day. But since she faces major abdominal surgery her first day on Earth, we want to get her as close to 36 weeks as we can.
Now here is where our broken system comes into play…
M. has insurance through her job. Her insurance is picking up the tab for her prenatal care and the delivery. But it won’t cover the baby because it considers Gastroschisis a pre-existing condition, so M has had to deal with jumping through all the hoops involved in getting Medicaid for her preborn child – on top of everything else she is dealing with right now – so she can get the lifesaving surgery she will need to survive.
Denial of care for a neonate is morally repugnant, and anyone who wants to get all up in arms and set their hair on fire and scream about “death panels” needs to focus that rage at the insurance companies that would deny a newborn lifesaving care because congenital defects are “pre existing conditions” and the state is forced to pick up the tab.