Born with Congenital Heart Disease, Mick wants children today to know that there is hope for a future.
hero_image_alt_text===Mick L Headshot
thumbnail_alt_text===Mick L Headshot
When Mick was born the doctors told his parents not to worry about naming him because he was born with a congenital heart defect and there was nothing they could do. That was in Davenport, Iowa in 1956. Hospitals were not connected, and a baby born with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) was not expected to live.
Luckily for Mick, his Uncle was a doctor in Chicago and found that there were three major doctors in the nation doing open heart surgery on infants and one of them was in Chicago. His name was Dr. Willis Potts. At three weeks old, Mick had the first of three open heart surgeries. The first surgery being the Potts Shunt.
Mick's parents had Blue Cross Blue Shield as their insurance, and were told that since he was having an unknown or unproven surgery that it would not be covered. After an appeal, they covered the surgery and all subsequent check-ups. Mick's next two open heart surgeries were at the ages of 16 and 45. Both surgeries, as well as the first surgery, were done at a Children’s Hospital.
While under his parents insurance for the first two surgeries he never worried about the cost. His third surgery was a completely different story. Mick had owned his own business after graduating from college and employed up to 15 people. With insurance through the company, costs were fairly in line with other businesses in the area and never hurt my cash flow, until his last surgery at age 45.
A year after the surgery, both the cost of insurance and the deductible started rising. His cash flow was starting to be a major undertaking as he had to find ways to make ends meet and still have health insurance. Soon enough, that was going to come to an end. Mick got rid of my business after 32 years of running it. The cost of insurance was to much. In order to keep the deductibles at the same level, prices were going to increase so much that his employees said no. said no. He could not run the company without employees so he got rid of it
Seven months before getting rid of his company, Mick testified before a House Subcommittee on health insurance. This was right before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He knew there needed to be a way to change the way health insurance is provided in the U.S. Unfortunately, he has not been helped by the ACA.
He knew the doctors at the University of Iowa and they felt that with his condition he would be better served going to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The ACA does not cover going out of state and neither does Medicaid. So once again, he must get the better, more costly plan, sold through one of the major health insurance companies that serve Iowa.
In my testimony before the Sub-committee, he touched on three things to improve our healthcare in the United States.
- Open up insurance across state lines. That is bound to bring down the cost of insurance.
- Let hospitals sell insurance. Who better to know what people need than the Doctors who take care of them.
- Sell insurance only through the federal government. Take a percent of our takes out depending on what type of coverage we want. He based this system on the State of Israel’s insurance coverage. Anybody is seen in an Israeli hospital, even if they do not live there.
The above might sound simple, but it was just ideas on paper. We as a nation do need to get the cost of our medical care under control. Health insurance is not like any other insurance. If you do not own a house or a car you do not need insurance. Likewise, you must be of a certain age to be able to obtain the aforementioned insurance. But you need health insurance from womb to the grave. And everyone needs to be considered on the same footing in this category. For you can put no cost on life.
Mitch wants everyone who is born with CHD to know there is hope. He would love to talk to survivors, as well as people who have to send their children somewhere to get heart surgery and tell them what they have to look forward to, what the future is going to be like, and tell them it does get better.