After sharing their healthcare horror story — an ordeal that cost them thousands of dollars — one Merriam couple is urging the city council to adopt a resolution in support of “Medicare for All.”
Meanwhile, Councilmember Al Frisby is in the process of drafting his own resolution that he plans to introduce in September; if adopted by his fellow councilmembers, the resolution would declare the city’s support for a single-payer healthcare system.
Frisby says the effort to support a single-payer system comes down to saving money. If Congress passes the Medicare for All Act of 2019, the city of Merriam would have the opportunity to participate down the line and provide better healthcare for city employees at a lower cost, thus saving taxpayer dollars, Frisby said.
“It’s been said that we could save a bunch of bucks,” he said. “Because right now it’s about 10 to 12 percent every year that healthcare (cost) goes up. We need to find a way to reduce those costs for our employees.”
The Medicare for All Act would establish a national health insurance program and prohibit deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.
Frisby said he was inspired by Dr. Ed Weisbart, a retired physician in St. Louis who supports Medicare for All.
Although Frisby was absent at the Merriam council meeting Monday, Mayor Ken Sissom told the Snyders about Frisby’s plans to introduce the resolution. Here’s the Snyders’ story:
Merriam resident Stephen Snyder had just five months to go before he would be eligible for Medicare.
He had just turned 65 last year, so when it came time to sign up for health insurance in December, he decided to go with a low-cost plan on the healthcare marketplace — one that saved him hundreds of dollars a month on his premium but put him at risk due to the plan’s higher deductible of $9,000. He figured he could risk it, but then the unexplained falling episodes started happening.
After weeks of waiting for authorization that his insurance would cover the consultations with his cardiologist and neurologist and an MRI scan, he was still left with several hundred dollars’ worth of expenses. And the drop attacks kept happening, sometimes several times a day. A neurosurgeon told him he had a pinched nerve in his spine, so he went through surgery. He is now going through occupational and physical therapy.
And the hospital bills kept coming in. Judy Snyder, his wife and a registered nurse, said they went well past his $9,0000 deductible, including an out-of-network bill of $400.
“If Steve had been on Medicare just six months [earlier], neither the deductible, waiting for authorization or out-of-network would have been an issue,” Judy Snyder said. “I know I’m not the only Merriam resident with one of these difficult stories about our current system.”
The Snyders’ family friend, Dr. David Terry, who practices medicine in Johnson County and spoke at the Merriam council meeting, said the Snyders’ story is common. As a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, Terry is promoting a single-payer healthcare system, which he believes would increase the quality and access to healthcare for all Americans.
“Under our current system, our cost is higher than any other country in the world,” Terry said. “Our quality is lower than most industrialized countries in the world. And our access is restricted by the amount of money that we have to pay and the services that we receive. We do not have the freedoms that we think that we have under our healthcare system.”
Snyder asked councilmembers during their Monday meeting to consider adopting a resolution in support of Medicare for All.