My job is full-time but because of a loophole (I’m paid through a grant) I do not get medical insurance through it. When I got this job I purchased medical insurance privately, which costed me $500 a month and it was crappy insurance.
So as you can imagine I was pretty elated when last January when I applied for and got on medical insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The ACA coverage was actually better than my previous coverage.
However, last week I was stopped at the pharmacist because my insurance card from the ACA was being rejected after having worked just the month before. I checked my mail to find a letter dated two weeks earlier informing me they needed additional income verification, and apparently my ACA insurance was in some sort of hiatus. I called, and found out I needed to mail in proof of my income which I did.
Today I found out I was rejected because I make too much money. I apparently had been accepted previously erroneously for some reason. Also, my insurance didn’t just stop this month, but the month before.
Currently I am looking at a medical bill for the three doctor’s visits I had when I didn’t know I wasn’t insured. It is for $1331.66. *One* doctor’s visit alone (I had to go in for a chest cold that had kept me basically bed-ridden for a week) cost me $674.00
The kicker was I am about to start a second full-time job (at near minimum wage) that I got just to help save up this summer. Now most of that money basically just vanished, even before I worked an hour.
I know things in life cost money. I know unfortunate things happen. But this is perhaps the 100th time I’ve had something “unfortunate” happen in my dealings with the healthcare industry of this nation. Like that time I needed an eye surgery 10 days after losing my job to seasonal cutbacks. Or that time earlier this year I had to pay $1000 a month for coverage and my basic medications because my coverage was shit. Or that time I started a new medication but found out (when I got the bill) it was going to cost me $1,000 a month out of pocket to take it.
Most of these issues have stemmed from my Juvenile Arthritis and a related eye issue which are not caused by lifestyle or any sort of choice on my part. I also can’t just “tough it out” and go without healthcare. My decision in many of these cases is to be grossly exploited by an industry designed for profit, or gradually but permanently lose mobility in my spine or gradually but permanently lose my eyesight. So far I’ve been lucky enough to pay these bills. I’ve emptied my savings, or found additional work or been able to borrow money from friends and family so I didn’t have to choose between rent and medical care. But what about those that aren’t that lucky, or those whose injuries or diseases leave them unable to work?
I know my stories are a drop in the bucket and anecdotes are not always factually true. However, the U.S. healthcare system is the most inefficient in the world, and is ranked 37th in the world for the care it provides but number one for the amount spent.
To me, it has been clear for some time that we need massive healthcare reform now. I am not talking about plugging up loopholes here and there, token reforms, or legislation aimed at mitigating some of the problems in the current status quo. Suggesting these are solutions to the problems caused by our healthcare industry is like suggesting taking aspirin will treat cancer.
I am talking about reforms that finally treat healthcare as a human right and as a public good, not as a market to be privatized and profited from. Numerous other aspects of our society are already treated this way (fire departments, police departments, public schools, etc.), why not public health?