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.