Living With Less Worry Under The ACA


Every time I called a doctor, always their first question was about insurance. When I said I had none, there would be a pause or a sigh or a curt admonishment that payment was expected in full at the time of my appointment. I felt the same shame as when I was a little girl sitting in the Social Security office beside my widowed mother who was demanding to know why our monthly government check hadn’t arrived.

It is the same shame I felt when I went to a new dermatologist several months ago, smart phone photos of a lesion on my leg at the ready, and when he looked at my chart and saw that I didn’t have insurance, said, “I’m not going to charge you my usual rate. This has to be biopsied, so I’ll ask the lab if they’ll reduce their fee, too. No guarantees.”

Connie May Fowler writes for the Rumpus about what the Affordable Care Act has meant for her life, and for the people she works with: other part-time professors and adjuncts who don’t get health insurance through work.

It’s strange, that particular almost-shame of being uninsured. It’s not as acute as the worry, but there is something to it, however illogical. I was effectively uninsured for a bit last year, and while I made the conscious choice to do that, going to the doctor as a ‘self-pay’ patient still made me feel like some sort of rogue non-adult, as if I were missing a ticket for entry or a stamp on my hand. Luckily, and unlike many people, all I ended up with is a couple of ludicrous bills that I am still trying to negotiate discounts on, but that ultimately, I can afford to pay.

As for Connie, her melanoma is back but she is feeling okay about it:

The only time I’m scared is when I consider what it would be like to go through this without insurance. As more colleges and universities convert tenure track jobs to non-tenured positions, and as more businesses of any ilk decide to label their workforce part-time regardless of hours worked, more Americans will rely on ACA for their healthcare coverage. Searching for a silver lining, I discern something positive about artists and writers and time clock punchers having a common bond through healthcare. Perhaps as a country we’ll be more creative. If we’re not worried about how we’ll pay if a health disaster strikes, we’ll have more room to write books, paint paintings, compose songs, dream.

Photo: meddygarnet

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

I am still ambivalent about health insurance. I totally totally totally totally totally get the importance of protecting yourself against catastrophic health costs. But this past month I paid my insurer $212 for my premium and $350 for health care, since I have to burn through a $5K deductible before they’ll pay anything. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY (I mean, I know why)

shannowhamo (#845)

@HelloTheFuture I do not think it’s a perfect system. I’m in a similar boat, pay a little less in premium for the same amount of deductible. I chose it because I don’t have any *knock on wood* ongoing health things yet. And paying $400 to get on my husband’s insurance seemed way crazier. I work two part time jobs but I’m a “professional” with a professional degree. It’s dumb.

But I will say I don’t really feel shame about it, the situation is not my fault. I work hard 40+ hours a week, I keep looking for full-time jobs, it’s the system’s fault that my insurance sucks.

Kissy (#5,345)

I find the US health system so terrifying. Sure there are faults but our universal health care system in Australia is amazing

Sass (#1,248)

@Kissy My parents and brother moved to Australia when I was 23(9 years ago), and while my parents are not able to participate in the Medicare system(they’d have to pay about $150k each, and I don’t recall if that’s an AUD or USD figure), my brother has applied for permanent residency and will probably stay when they come back to the US.
He doesn’t get how amazing the absence of major healthcare-cost worries is, because he was 17 and on the parents’ insurance until he left the US. The concept of “I broke my ankle and spent my house down payment on being able to WALK, because crappy insurance is crappy” is a foreign one to him. I am perpetually jealous of the Australian system.

EmilyAnomaly (#4,238)

I remember that shame . . . when I was a sophomore in college (and on my mom’s health insurance) my mom was laid off so I was uninsured for a while. I went to Kmart to fill a prescription that cost $130 without insurance. The pharmacist told me “that’s a lot of money.” No kidding. $130 was more than I made in a week working part time.

Megano (#739)

Just found out that my spousal equivalent is going to have to pay $1,100 for an ‘elective’ surgery to safely remove the bolt that is coming out of his titanium leg pin. This is with 80% coverage, and with apologies to each and every US reader, this is complete bullshit. In Canada? This is free. FREE. Because it’s stressful enough being sick without having to worry about how you are going to pay for the things that make you better again. This came up 6 days after he cancelled his Canadian Medical Services plan (monthly cost for the unemployed: about $45). How did the American public let this happen?

Chester (#6,690)

@Megano Understand your situation but the American public didn’t “let” this happen. Anyone who thinks so simply doesn’t understand the American history. This country is far too large and diverse (in every way) to plug a health care system from a MUCH smaller country into it.

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