January 30, 2010
The Daily Hell Vol. III - Issue 35 - An Open Letter To The Governor
Wow, sorry I have not written in such a long time. Hopefully, this will be the first of many more, and more frequently.
I have been trying without much success to find a health insurance I can afford, so I wrote to Governor Patterson today. I thought making it an open letter and sharing it with the rest of the world might be a good idea, as I know a lot of people are going through the same thing I am.
Dear Governor Patterson,
While looking for a way to afford my prescription drugs, I came across an article about your program giving New Yorkers, ages 50-64 the New York Prescription Saver Card. That is commendable, however, there are many people below the age of 50 who also struggle to pay for their prescriptions.
I am 28 years old, unemployed, uninsured and take prescription medication for ADHD and anxiety. The drugs I take, Celexa, Adderall, and Adderall XR are very expensive and my parents (who live in Massachusetts) have been footing the bill for me since I lost my job in 2008. However, they have expenses of their own and are unable to continue doing this.
I applied for the Health Plus health insurance program, thinking I would qualify due to my unemployment. However, as the maximum allowable monthly income is $900 for a single person with no dependents, I discovered my Unemployment Benefit was too high and prevented me from qualifying for this program. This rule seems to presume that a single individual with no dependents with a $901 monthly income should be able to live comfortably, pay rent and bills, feed and clothe oneself and then have enough left over to pay standard prices for health insurance. Is it your belief that someone who makes $901 a month, can in fact do this?
I began applying for the Healthy NY program, which has a maximum allowable income of $2257 for a single person with no dependents, which I thankfully qualified for and believed I could afford. The monthly premium quoted to me was $247 a month. However, halfway through the application process, I learned the following: "Healthy NY offers a streamlined benefit package, which lowers premiums. Because of this, certain services are not covered. Some of these services include: Mental Health services and prescription drugs related to mental health conditions, including treatment for depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)." The ONLY expenses I regularly incur and thus the ONLY reason I am trying to get this insurance, are the "prescription drugs related to mental health conditions" which I require in order to function regularly in my everyday life. When this came up with the Atlantis Health representative I was being advised by, she told me that the standard policy I would have to get that WOULD cover mental health-related expenses cost a premium of $411 a month.
I receive $396 ($356.40 after taxes) a week, plus the $25 ($22.50) recent addition for a total of $1684 monthly, of which I receive $1515.60 after taxes. I live in New York City. And even in Brooklyn, this is just enough for me to pay my rent, my credit card, phone, and student loan and utility bills, with a little left to enable me to eat and take the subway. This does not leave me with enough money to pay for a $411 health insurance policy. Nor does it allow me to pay for a $247 health insurance policy, plus several hundred dollars in mental-health related prescription drugs.
I went back and found out that Health Plus actually DOES cover drugs like Adderall, Adderall XR, and Celexa. I don't understand how one state-subsidized insurance plan, like Health Plus is able to cover mental-health related prescriptions and have a premium of $0 a month, when another state subsidized insurance plan, like Healthy NY cannot cover such expenses, claim it is in order to "lower premiums," and still charge $247 a month. I also must question whether a state who's unemployment rate has reached 9.0% as of December 2009 fully understands the effects of unemployment on a depressed person, much less the effects of depression on an unemployed person. How can a government claim to be supporting and encouraging their unemployed population when they disclude the most expensive and most relevant services and drugs from its subsidized health programs? Many people are unemployed because their depression prevents them from finding work. They suffer the symptoms of depression because their unemployment prevents them from being able to afford treatment.
I continue to seek employment here in New York and I continue to seek a means of taking the burden of paying for these drugs away from my parents. I am writing to you in hopes that you will include these important services in ALL government subsidized programs, or make those which do include them available to a larger part of the lower-income population. In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you happen to have on how I can pay for these drugs, or a health insurance plan that will cover these drugs on my restrictive budget. Please, what can I do?