Residents Discuss Health Coverage

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As we have heard many times in recent days, health care has become one of the top issues of this year’s campaign.

Thursday, a diverse group of health care advocates and people coping with chronic disease met to try to force politicians to make change.

WOSU’s Lauren Schmoll was there.

Whether young or old, each person at the session had the same goal.

Making sure all Americans have health coverage-effective health care coverage. Joseph LaMountain directs patient outreach for the National Health Council The council is a 119 member group that represents a wide variety of groups involved in patient care. The council invited three central Ohioans to share their struggles with the health care system .

One speaker discussed her family’s fight with insurance companies-who only recognize her son’s Autism as a mental health disorder, and won’t cover his doctor’s visits.

Another man suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, and lost his health coverage when the company he worked for filed for bankruptcy.

Worthington’s Roberta Havel spends her days caring for her aging mother who has Alzheimer’s. Havel is happy to be able to keep her mother at home, but she says the burden of providing 24-hour care takes a toll.

“If we want to even go out for an evening, we’ve got to pay someone fifteen dollars an hour who has got qualifications,” Havel said. “It’s not like we can just go to the kid next door and say come on lets take care of Mrs. Feinstein. Life is just a hassle and we need a healthcare plan in this country that helps people like me get out and just live ourselves.”

Havel and her husband have health problems of their own-a situation that affects more than a few people caring for ill or aging family members who don’t have a healthcare plan to turn to for help.

“People who are caregivers get sicker faster,” Havel said. “If you look at a spouse who is a caregiver about forty percent of the time they die before the person they’re caring for because of the stress.”

The National Health Council’s Joseph LaMountain says he wants Havel and everyone with health care issues to know there are plenty of people just like them.

“A lot of times I think people feel like they’re alone and they’re the only ones who understand their circumstances,” LaMountain said. “But there’s a lot of people out there with a lot of different chronic medical conditions that feel the same way. And getting them working together is really a primary goal of ours.”

LaMountain says Ohioans have the power to change the future especially when it comes to health coverage.

“Anytime there’s an election, candidates are looking to hear from people,” LaMountain said. “People’s voices are magnified. And Ohio is particularly important. The candidates will be here and will be listening to their concerns.” Roberta Havel hopes her story and others bring action.

“It’s going to take a lot of work and the people who need it the most don’t have the energy to fight for it,” Havel said. “If you’re sick, you don’t have the energy to get out of bed, much less call an elected official or presidential campaign. But our elected officials aren’t going to listen to abstract numbers. They’re going to listen to real people with real stories, because we vote.”