Enough is Enough! I Need Stability
I have cared for patients as a respiratory therapist for 16 years at Providence Memorial Hospital. I love my job and the work that I do every day to build a stronger, healthier El Paso. But who’s taking care of us, the workers, who keep this hospital running? I want to ask all Texans to stand with workers for fair benefits and wages. Workers are providing the excellent patient care that has made our hospital reputable and profitable, and we deserve to be fairly compensated.
Wages have been stagnant in the hospital, particularly for those of us with seniority, even though the cost of living in El Paso has skyrocketed. My health insurance costs have gone up too. Our health insurance plan doesn’t even cover the cost of something as basic as my steroid inhaler.
I have asthma, a common respiratory condition, but our plan doesn’t even cover the bare minimum maintenance treatment for my condition. I need my inhaler; it’s not optional for me. But I have to pay at least $200 a month out of pocket for one inhaler. Why?
Because for the last few years, our health insurance has regularly dropped coverage for my inhalers and would force me onto new medication. Each time they drop my inhaler, it requires another doctor’s visit, another treatment plan and another medication just because our insurance won’t cover medications that work.
After going through that process a couple times, I decided enough was enough. I need stability to be able to manage my chronic respiratory condition, and I need to use what works. So now I pay out of pocket for an inhaler that used to be covered by our insurance. I’m not using anything out of the ordinary. My inhaler prescriptions are two of the most commonly prescribed medications for asthma—I regularly use them in our hospital to treat patients who come in with asthma or other respiratory conditions. It’s that common.
Even with my health reimbursement account, I’m paying $2,000 or more a year on top of my health insurance plan, which has also gotten more expensive over the years. I can’t afford to spend more money each month to pay for a plan that doesn’t fully cover my medical needs. I can only imagine how difficult it is for my co-workers who are raising young children at home and can’t afford to spare $200 each month for one prescription let alone any increase to their monthly premiums.
The work we all do to keep patients alive and healthy is demanding. Workers like me who give so much deserve a benefits package that cares for them and their families. That’s not asking for a lot. It’s just common sense.