I am so thankful for my medical insurance.
Until age 26 when I started a childcare I always had medical coverage. Thank goodness because I am no stranger to odd sicknesses and surgeries. I took it for granted, big time. I assumed that I would just always have insurance. Just starting a business I was too broke to afford medical and had too many assets (house, savings, retirement) to qualify for any medical assistance from the state. So I had to learn quickly how to navigate this crazy new world I’d entered.
You do though, you learn fast, you have to. Here are some of the things I learned about living without medical benefits.
First you better kiss the dentist good-bye, if something happens to your teeth it’s probably best to just get a friend to pull those bad boys out in the bathtub with vodka and clean pliers.
Also get out your duct tape because the uninsured person does not go to the eye doctor or buy new glasses until nothing but stitching will keep those suckers attached to your face. Contacts? hahahahahahahaha.
When you are finally desperate and near death enough to warrant an emergency room adventure without medical, God help you. First of all, you gotta call your bank to check your balance on your way there. During registration when asked for your insurance card you become acutely aware of the real or imagined judgement and hatred in that little man’s eyes. The guilt and shame set in. Then in your most defensive voice you will start your 6 min speech to convince him that you are not an unemployed, lazy bum. Once you make it to the waiting room you’ll decide that you are an idiot for even coming in and wasting your money, your 103 temp will go down on its own. While you are making a mental list of the things you will have to pawn to pay for this you are called into the ER. You explain your symptoms to the doc in as much detail as you can and when they start recommending tests you shoot down their ideas “oh, I don’t think it’s that” or “hmmmm, maybe I didn’t feel that earlier”. Finally you just ask what tests are the cheapest. Soon they are coming in and saying things like “you are going to need a chest x-ray but that is $400, should we go for it or we could do a pelvic exam for free first, you know just to rule some things out” You stay for hours, alone with your fear and loathing. Because your pity party isn’t awesome enough and you need more reason to hate your own guts they then send in a hospital social worker. She asks you all kinds of invasive questions about your past and present relationships, about drugs, family, abuse, money and they bring in the dreaded medical assistance application. This happens every time so you know that no matter how much you beg and plead with her you’ll be filling it out anyway. Even when you tell her that in fact you are near death or in the process of losing a baby, even when you tell her you’ve been rejected every other time you’ve been forced to fill it out, she will make you anyway. Still you try, you beg and plead and then you fill out the application anyway. These humiliations continue until long afte you are home, safely curled up and tucked away from the insanity that is life with no insurance.
During my 4 years without medical coverage I was pretty lucky to not have too many major incidents. I did have my last 2 of 3 ectopic pregnancies, Those were some pretty insane bills, 13,000 and 26,000. I was devastated about those bills.
When I think back on that time period it almost feels like another life. If you’re one of the lucky people out there that have not had to live without, be grateful. I am so grateful to have medical right now. Hopefully I will continue to get to be a part of this privileged population. I am wrecked about the number of people, the number of children and elderly people, living without. These people are not even poor, they own their homes and their cars and take their kids to girl scouts, they are the people living in the middle. The teachers, day care providers, business owners, health aids, contractors, all kinds of people May God Bless the people in the middle with good health and different circumstances soon.