User post: In the current health care system, we are "those" people

This is our family's health care story. It's for anyone who thinks the public option in health care is for lazy people who just want to live off other people's taxes-you know, "those people."

When B. and I got married in 1998, he put all of his income into his new construction business and I supported us for a short time with my income. Our health insurance came through my employer. A little over a year later, when our first child was born, our insurance company refused to pay for my emergency Caesarean birth for over 7 months, even though my employer had always paid my premiums on time.

The bill was over $16,000 and the obstetrician's office was increasingly angry with us. B and I were getting desperate. Finally, I called the insurance commissioner and filed a complaint. Long story short: The insurance company paid the claim. But the commissioner's staff then told me that the refusal to pay claims is routine practice for insurance companies, and that they count on the fact that some people--whether it's because they are too sick or just don't know their rights--won't speak up.

We have three children. I became a stay-at-home mom when our first was born, and since that time, our insurance coverage has been a disaster. First, we started paying COBRA at full price. Then we tried going in for a co-op insurance, but the group discount was miniscule, and the premiums were raised every year at an alarming rate. We tried switching to another, lower premium insurance, but that had so many hidden costs, we could never predict what our health care costs for one month would be-even to the nearest hundred! Finally, we switched back to the higher premium plan because it was a predictable amount. The last premium that we paid was $1,126 for one month. That generous plan included $25 copays for office visits, $50 copays for ER visits, and ZERO prescription coverage.

That was a long time ago. When the insurance company jacked up our monthly plan to $1200, we had to give it up. It was like having two mortgages.

For those of you who are under the impression that socialized systems have no place in this country, please consider the whole notion of public school. Sure, it has room for improvement, but what's the alternative? Pay private tuition rates for all children, 2 to 22, if you're lucky enough to have the money? Lead an uneducated life?

I'm really upset by being referred to as "those people" by people who think we're trying to sponge off the system. B. and I pay our taxes. He owns a construction business and I'm a teacher. I volunteer on a regular basis. Have the people who insist that we're "those people" done the same?

What I want from my health care is actually pretty simple: I want to go into a doctor's office when I am sick, to have that doctor be familiar with my file and to have my insurance company to pay legitimate claims.

More than anything, I want everyone understand that right now, insurance companies in the country are punishing people like me to make record profits, and if we're going to stop them, we have to change our system from the bottom up.