Friday, November 30, 2007

Odd Anniversaries - Health/Wellness, Rare Disorders, Insurance, Money and MS

Yesterday was an anniversary of sorts as is tomorrow.

Two years ago on Thursday, December 1, 2005, I took my newly acquired supply of Copaxone to the Neurology Center for injection training. It was both a big deal and not a deal big at the same time. Nurse Carol suggested injecting after a shower when the skin is warm and clean, skipping the alcohol swabs (alchohol on the skin burns on injection!!) It went fairly smoothly but I did develop a largish lump around the injection site.

Nowadays, injections are not a big deal at all. I just do it and go. No ritual. No extra prep. Just do it.

Now more interesting to me is the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2 years ago. I received a phone call from Shared Solutions (Teva's patient front) giving me the good news and congratulations. Below I discuss this particular pivotal point in my personal life, but first...

This year the Saturday after Thanksgiving I received an unexpected call, this time from Dr. Eric Berg, the chiropractor who I discussed previously on this blog. It seems that beyond becoming aware of my blog, he basically had a few things that he wanted me to share with me. One being the concern that an unidentified individual who had communicated to me was in fact under investigation for fraudulent claims. Investigation, that's an interesting word. A scientist may investigate the efficacy of a new drug or I may investigate the cause of my cat's persistent meowing from somewhere near his food bowl. That word alone doesn't indicate much. More information would be needed to supply the context.

Although, congratulations is an odd word to hear after you've recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, your insurance will not pay for the prescribed medication, and you've been left hanging for six weeks after submitting an enormously personal application form to verify your lack of income or resources with which to pay for said medication.

Congratulations!!! You've been approved for 50% by NORD
(National Organization for Rare Disorders).

Yeah!! Wait....50%? What does that mean?

NORD has approved your application and awarded you 50%.


You will be receiving six months of medication from NORD and will only need to pay a $100 shipping/handling fee for each 3-month supply.

What happens after six months?

You will need to pay for your medication.

But I don't have that kind of money. I can't afford that.

You can appeal for more assistance, if your financial situation

So I can appeal in the Spring after I've completed my taxes and have more recent information?


(Whew! Okay. I'm alright for now. Now when does that med

Fast forward. Appeal denied!! "You still earned too much at $26K to qualify for additional $10K worth of meds. And you still have some money in the bank. Sorry." I'm paraphrasing, of course. But same result. I ended up spending $16K in medical costs while earning less than $20K.

Okay, finally I'm under that magical 200% Federal Povery Level and I was approved for 100% assistance from NORD this past March.

But the story's not over (is it ever?)

Tomorrow is the last day which I can conduct any banking activity which will not be represented in next spring's application. You see, NORD requires three months of statements from every financial institution which has any of my money. And if it looks like I am able to accumulate any significant amount, I risk forfeiting the opportunity for assistance in the coming year. Yuck!!

That means that I CAN'T take advantage of opportunities to increase investments such as that craziness which is occurring with Questcor's stock. I can't conduct business such as to maximize my own earning power. I basically can't be overtly successful. I just have to ride this out and smile gently each time Nurse Carol asks, "so when is that boyfriend of yours going to propose and ya'll get married? Marriage has benefits you know." Yes, it does, one of which is access to his company-sponsored health insurance which is pretty doggone good.

Health insurance really isn't a good reason to get married in my opinion, but trying to start a family before I turn 40 is. Wait...I think we just passed the point at which it is possible to have a child before I'm 40 next year. Oh well. In the meantime, tomorrow's the last day for any private banking decisions.

Maybe, I'd better investigate the opportunity to maximum the benefits of our relationship.

Rob, sweetie, if you are reading this....I love you and thank you for spending our 30-month + 1 week anniversary on Thanksgiving in Oklahoma with those energetic but adorable nephews of mine!

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