Thankfully, I’m generally healthy… I think. Since I haven’t had insurance in a really, really long time, I actually have no idea what my health looks like from a medical perspective. I feel okay, I guess.
This isn’t just an issue for the unemployed. Millions of people in the United States are without health insurance, and it sucks. That one time I had my very own insurance was fantastic. I felt secure, safe, and protected. I knew that if something bad happened, it’d probably be covered (I had really good insurance), and I would be able to get the care I needed.
All of this past winter I was afraid I was going to fall on the ice and break my ankle or something, and then have to pay an exorbitant amount of money (that I don’t have) for a stupid little injury. Or what if, Cthulu-forbid, something actually bad happened to me? I would get so stressed out about paying for my medical care that I would have a heart attack. That doesn’t seem fair. Isn’t my health and my life just as important as a rich person’s? (Or an employed person’s? Or a married person’s?) Apparently not, since I’m on the waiting list for my state’s medical care program, along with 100,000 other people.
Let me tell you a really embarrassing story to illustrate the sort of care you get when you run out of options.
Last year, when I still had a job, I had a UTI. They are terrible, by the way. You should never be aware of your urethra. Anyway, I knew I had a UTI, and all I needed was a prescription for antibiotics. There are free places where I could have made an appointment… in two weeks. When you have a UTI, you need it to be gone yesterday. Two weeks was going to make me go insane. All the urgent care sorts of places cost about $60 just to be seen by someone, and I did not have $60. I did some research, and found a clinic funded by a religious organization that is free to the first three people who check in every day. I took the morning off from work, losing 3 hours of pay, and went to this clinic. I got an appointment and started filling out the forms, which asked me if I was married and my religious affiliation, in addition to the usual medical questions. When I saw the doctor, I told him that I knew I had a UTI. He seriously looked at my form and said, “It doesn’t say you’re married here.” I explained that I’m not married, but that I still had a UTI. All he had to do was write a prescription and let me be on my way. Instead, he told me that pre-marital sex is a sin, and that this was “what you get for living your lifestyle.” Do I seem like the kind of person who enjoys being evangelized to and humiliated in one go? Does anyone? I told him that my lifestyle was just fine, and in fact, would be even better if he could just write me a scrip. Eventually, he wore down, wrote me the scrip, and told me to change my lifestyle before I regret it. Let me be clear: my lifestyle is a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend. I’m not a hooker, and even if I was, I would expect more respect from a doctor than that.
I understand that I went to a religiously-funded clinic, and that they can pretty much do whatever they want, but if you are without insurance and without money, and you need immediate treatment, there aren’t many options. Given these limited options, it’d be nice to be treated like a person, and not like a shameful thing. Also, I know it could have been worse… like when I went back for a second UTI a few months later, because once you get one, you will probably get another one. I saw the same doctor, and he said, “If you keep living that life, you’re going to end up with something a whole lot worse.” Thanks, doc. Fingers crossed.
My message to all of you out there with insurance: use it. The second I have insurance again, I will make every appointment I can with the coverage I have. I’d like to know if there’s something wrong with me, or if I need to take preventative action, or if I need medicine for something. Right now, I’m just guessing, and that’s basically going back in time to the 18th century.