Do you know what that is in the photo above? If you DO, then you know that they are expensive, and that they are quite necessary for the people who need to use them.
The photo shows the ostomy supplies that I have had to use since I had my surgery back in May of 2012, and received my colostomy. The flanges, or the larger squares that attach to my body with a very sticky glue, cost anywhere from $51.95 to $65 for a box of 10. The pouches, about $25 for a box of 10. Add to that about $10 for a tube of stoma paste, and another $10 for the skin barrier spray.
Now, I want you to think about how many times a week you change your underwear.If you had to pay $9 for a new pair of disposable panties every time you changed, would you be able to afford it? Would you still choose to change as often as you do, or would you opt to try to stretch out the length of time you wore the same pair?
If you are a person like me, who has a colostomy, you have to decide if you want to change your appliance every time you have to empty the bag, or every two days, or just once a week. For the last two and a half years or so, I have had to make this choice. The company that manufactures the appliances I use will send a complimentary supply once a year. What they send is 30 flanges and 30 bags. I have had to use those for as long as I could make them last. They don’t advise using one for more than two or three days. I have had to use mine for at least a week at a time. That is, if I don’t have a blow out, and I don’t think I have to tell you what that means.
Now that I have been approved for Social Security Disability, I am eligible for Medicare on November 1, even though I am only 62. I went to an insurance agent in Tallapoosa last month and signed up for Humana Pro Choice PPO which is a MAPD. MAPD means it is Medicare Advantage Part D, which will cover my prescriptions as well as my health care. Now before you all start hollering that I am getting something for nothing, let me say that Social Security is going to be taking $104 a month out of my disability benefits to pay for Medicare, and my Medicare Advantage Plan thru Humana will cost me another $5o a month, which I can also have deducted from my disability benefits.
So, for a total of $154 a month, I will have health insurance, that will have co-pays: $20 for each primary care physician visit; $45 for a specialist; $65 for an emergency room visit; and $270 a day for the first 4 days of a hospital stay. This is not the best insurance I have ever had, but it what is what it is. It means I CAN go to the doctor when I need to. It means I can also go to a specialist, like a podiatrist (I am diabetic, so I need foot care); a gastroenterologist, so I can talk about getting a reversal of my colostomy; and a dermatologist for some skin issues I have.
Having this insurance also means that I will only have to pay a 20% co-pay for my colostomy supplies. I can get up to 20 sets of appliances per month, so I won’t have to wear the same one for a week or more. I can not tell you how this one benefit makes me feel. It is a matter of self worth, of feeling clean, of feeling like a human being again.
There are many people like me, who are younger, who don’t qualify for disability, who don’t make enough money to qualify for health insurance through The Affordable Health Care Act. Those are the people who were supposed to be caught in the safety net of expanded medicaid benefits through their state. Unfortunately, Georgia is one of the 19 states that opted out of expanded medicaid. That leaves about 974,000 low income people in this state who have no health care options.
I wish I could help all of those people get some sort of health care coverage. I know I can’t help them all, but I have been looking for a way to start a fund to help people who, like me, have a colostomy and need to buy expensive supplies every month. If you have any ideas, please let me know. Because every person should be able to live their life with dignity.