“What the patient really needs is better insurance.”
The physician said it abruptly, matter-of-factly. Her comment was not meant to evoke empathy in the rest of the medical team. She stated it like a diagnosis.
I’m a medical actor, a person who gets paid to inhabit the experiences of imaginary people on the worst days of their lives. The going rate for that is about $20 an hour.
At the beginning of 2014, I put my partner on the medical coverage I receive though my full-time employer. It was a godsend, as going without health insurance and trying to buy your own health insurance in New York City are both surefire paths to the poorhouse. For domestic partners who aren’t married, or for those forbidden from wedding by law, it is perhaps the best work perk you can come by.
I wasn’t thinking about health insurance when I quit my job. I thought about how much I loved New York, what I loved about journalism and writing, and how I was kicking myself for taking the first job offer I ever got. I was also thinking about whether quitting my first job three months in for a temporary job would ruin my life (hey! I’m young).
I usually teach three courses per semester, three credits each. $633 per credit, which comes out to $5700 for a four month term. I am not the primary money person in our family, thank goodness. But the money I earn takes care of all the non-essentials of life: piano lessons, trips, new tires.
Non-monetary costs: Multiple phone calls and frustration with the insurance company over who they cover and how they bill. (My boot was billed separately from the hospital. Our system makes no sense.)
If you are on Medicaid, and you start calling a list of providers and find that, say, the first three numbers don’t work and the fourth number says “sorry, we’ve stopped participating,” and the fifth number says “we can make you an appointment in two months,” well—you can already see the time and hassle involved.