Saturday, August 18, 2012

Needing Health Insurance and Having a Mild Disability

This essay was basically written in response to a promise to the National Coordinator of Healthcare-Now that I would use my disability to help put a human face on the healthcare crisis. Please do not mistake disability with inability. You don’t have to look far to find a human face on the healthcare crisis. Besides healthcare crisis I find it to help put a human face on a host of other disabilities. It is not just disabilities (physical, mental, or emotional) that limit people from competing for jobs that have medical insurance; some times people make mistakes in education or life circumstance that lead some people to the break the law and later on are sorry.   

For the clearly disabled, such as those who are crippled, blind, have mental retardation, cerebral palsy, other forms of paralysis, severely autistic or have a disabling mental illness, etc; we all know it would be extremely difficult for them to get a job that has medical insurance; or go buy medical insurance with their earning. But are likely eligible for MEDICAID or Medicare! BUT! What about the mildly disabled, the one that should be able to work, obtain their insurance from their job, or go out and buy medical insurance?  If they can’t get a job, they can’t have medical insurance (under our so called “world’s best healthcare.”). By the way, USA healthcare is #37; not #1.  For someone with a mild disability such as Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism, competing in the narrowed job market can be a nightmare. I have such a disability; plus I am in my 50’s. 

Those individuals may even have a record of holding down a job with benefits; BUT, what happened if he/she loses that job?  I am in that boat. He should get another job; right?  After all, there are plenty of jobs to go around that bear the medical insurance benefits; right?  Many jobs are deliberately reducing hours so they can get out of having the medical insurance benefit; it’s not just because they don’t want to; they can’t afford it. 

Some might say if you have problems standing on your feet or keeping your balance or walking, get a cane. Wouldn’t it be nice if you have autism you could get yourself an autistic cane.  It might help you to make better eye contact. It might help you to get words out better, if you get stuck in the middle of a sentence. Maybe this cane will help with process of connecting your internal thinking with the reality outside.  Maybe it will help you with all the limitations inflicted by the autism.  Maybe this cane will calm your out of control nervousness.  Autism Speaks; we had jolly well better be listening. Please visit  Autism Speaks is actively seeking legislation for the fair distribution of healthcare. My own opinion is, we should go to a single-payer national medical insurance system, like HR 676.  It will come clear to you as you read on; if some kind of impairment knocks him out of the ability to get a job (insurance bearing) it may also cost him his privilege of having medical insurance.

I’m writing this essay because I have a condition called Aspergers Syndrome, which is a form of autism.  It doesn’t mean I can’t work. I have worked very well at a 9 year career at Lester Electrical, till they downsized again.  I have since tried to find another job (living wage and medical insurance benefits); of course I am also trying to compete for available jobs with my non-autistic counterparts.

Though I’ve had testing done at age 7 I have never heard the term Aspergers Syndrome until I was 53. In spring of 1985 I’ve asked a co-worker about my being different; she said “you are different in a very wonderful way. You are immature in concept of reality, which is not necessarily a bad thing.” In the summer of the same year after a relationship failed, the same co-worker mentioned autism as a possibility; I didn’t believe the co-worker. The former girlfriend also knew there was something different about me, but didn’t know what it was. She has also warned me that it would affect future relationships if not solved and informed me that she would do everything in her power to get solved if she had been afflicted by it. By the way, we have continued to be friends, even after breaking up the romantic affair.

I still didn’t know the word Aspergers; but knew I was different; but didn’t always know what the heck it was. In December of 1985 I saw a psychiatrist to try to find out what it was. They didn’t get very far because the insurance company refused to pay for it; and the clinic didn’t take IOU’s. FINANCIAL BARRIERS = HEALTHCARE CRISIS.  This is another example of our need for a fair distribution system of healthcare.  The doctor prescribed expensive psychological testing; but I couldn’t get it done due to the financial barrier.  While I am no longer the biggest believer in psychiatry Dr Gutierrez may have been able to find out what it was and what I could have done about it; maybe things could have been done without regards to whether the insurance company will pay for it or I can pay for it.  Not being able to fund the screenings I have coped best I knew how.

As mentioned earlier I have had a 9 year successful career at Lester Electrical here in Lincoln NE; now it is over. Where do I go next? Apparently, needing help to compete in the job market I went to Voc Rehab or “Vocational Rehabilitation.” Now, Voc Rehab is paying for expensive tests that the psychiatrist previously wanted to run.  Hopefully Voc Rehab can help place me onto a job that pays a living wage and medical insurance benefit. If they continue to be unable to get me place in a job they may have to declare me disabled; that is not what I have in mind; I don’t think that is what you want either. Do you want me living off your taxes? 

If I am the only one that would benefit from a single-payer medical insurance system, and everybody else is better off with the privatized care; by all means, let’s stick with privatized and leave the insurance companies, the mafia, the murderers in control of our healthcare. 

If I could have found out long time ago; and found out what to do about it; not prevented by the financial barriers; I may have already gotten the counseling, training, and other kinds of treatment to handle my Aspergers syndrome. I may have also been making good money; which means I would be sharing generously in our national universal healthcare system (President Truman succeeded in getting a universal healthcare system implemented).

Because of circumstances that forced me to come to terms with items making me different and finally finding out my condition is Aspergers Syndrome, as a folk musician/singer/songwriter and that mostly for a cause, mainly concerns over healthcare crisis am branching out my music ministry to including Autism Awareness.  I have written a song for Autism Awareness.  I am autistic; and I am not ashamed of it anymore. I’ll wave it as a banner if it helps children diagnosed with autism get needed therapy without financial barriers. Hardships connected with my Aspergers (including being a social outcast in high school and other growing up hardships) is where I got the incredible compassion to form my music ministry for affordable healthcare; now branching to include Autism Awareness.   

In conclusion; many may believe that those who can should work and obtain private insurance.  And, of course, we have the welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid for those who obviously can’t work. The question still comes up, “Are there enough jobs so that everybody that can work and obtain medical benefits can find (or compete for available) jobs with medical benefit and living wage?”  Can everybody that can and is willing to work; or everybody that can’t but would work have affordable access to healthcare? Many like me, who are on the edge and should be able to work, but find it incredibly difficult to compete for living wage/benefit bearing jobs with non-autistic counterparts. One person can take for granted a job with excellent benefits package; someone is obviously disabled (blind, crippled, hearing impaired, cerebral palsy, severely autistic, mentally retarded, maimed, etc) eligible for Medicare or Medicaid . We must make sure that the people stuck in the middle can also HAVE AFFORDABLE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE.  Furthermore; the right reforms to healthcare will bring jobs back to America which are currently being outsourced oversea.

On January 2, 2008 I took a brave step. I was at the Meadowlark Coffee & Espresso in Lincoln NE; at the piano on open mic night.  Tonight I will do a song of the late Sammy Davis Jr(initiated chord run in Ab) For all my life I knew I was different; but I didn’t always know what the heck it was. For years I’ve coped and handled it well. Recent circumstances forced me to come to terms with it.  I have Aspergers Syndrome, a mild form of autism. Yes, I am an aspie, an autie, and not ashamed of it anymore. This is where I’ve got my incredible compassion to become “The Healthcare for ALL Music Guru.”  But ultimately (started introduction in C) I’ve Got To Be Me, my strengths, weaknesses, and things I wish could be different, I’ve Got To Be Me. Then I started singing the song “I’ve Got To Be Me” by the late Sammy Davis Jr. 

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