By Connie Cherba, Iowa
In early 2000, Edward, who was then 60 years old, applied for Social Security Disability. Despite having suffered from bipolar disorder for nearly 40 years, Edward had earned a PhD, but was not able to hold a job. While the Social Security Disability was economically important, becoming eligible for Medicare allowed him to access what would become life-saving, preventive medical benefits. Although Edward’s father died as a result of metastatic colon cancer, Edward had not been able to afford a colonoscopy. He was not eligible for any state medical assistance. When Edward first became eligible for Medicare, he had his first colonoscopy which revealed a large polyp. According to Edward’s gastroenterologist, “that polyp would have been cancerous within a year.” Medicare kept Edward cancer free and likely saved his life.