My husband says playing lotto is for people who are really, really bad at math.
It’s a lot like health insurance. Denying people health insurance coverage means someone out there is really, really bad at math. But many of us don’t have a choice; it’s simply not part of the employment options of our chosen career path. Or the job we love. Or the job we have to do to put groceries on the table.
For the self-employed or part-timers, aka yours truly, I am one cat scan, one telephone pole, one colonoscopy away from health and economic catastrophe. If you for one moment doubt this dire scenario, clearly you have health insurance. But I’m married, and luckily we, as of this posting, still have a job with health coverage.
My sister, she’s not so lucky.
Statistics prove there are millions of people without health insurance (44.8 million in 2005), and political pundits are hawking their individual healthcare plans to better society. Our government is apparently, really, really bad at math (that fact has been made too painstakingly clear in recent days). But let’s forget the unnamed millions without health insurance. I can only write about what I know.
My sister has no insurance. Her girls are covered, ‘lucky’ them, they qualify for their state plan. Phew.
But their mom? Not so much.
When lying on the barn floor, after a horse has heaved her into a wall, she goes to work on her health plan. She begs off ambulance calls – can’t afford the bill. “No ambulance! $594 for a 5 mile ride?? Crazy!” Instead she’ll get someone to place her in the back of the truck and between gasps of breath — broken ribs? — she gets to the ER.
She continues negotiations at the ER. Denies pain killers, ‘you got generic?’ Declines costly tests. ‘Nope. No you can’t draw blood. CB-whatever is fine.’ She knows she can’t afford it. “I’ll pee in a cup; how much does that cost?”
She questions every bandaid, every tube, every healthcare worker that emerges from behind the curtain. “How much do you cost?”
And she can’t afford to take the coming days off to heal either. There is no time for rest. She doesn’t work, they don’t eat. It really is that simple for the millions of uninsured.
Her big fear is to be knocked unconscious, and not able to say no.
When a young and dumb, mightier-than-thou twenty-something, perhaps choosing to not have health insurance made some sort of narcissistic sense. But not having insurance now, when aches and pains and lumps and bumps bring sheer panic, it’s a whole new lottery.
If you don’t think health insurance is a national crisis, you have coverage. You haven’t watched someone you love use a vet for a first and final medical opinion and crossed your fingers you hit the lottery.