Thoughts on Medicare’s 50th Birthday

“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.

What I’ve Learned As A Fake Patient In A Simulated Hospital

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.

One Way the Tax Code Punishes Domestic Partners

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.

The Billions We Spend on Our Annual Check-Ups

In January, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying that he was skipping his annual physical, which he argued as costly and ineffective.

Getting Health Care After Quitting Your First Job

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).

A Last-Minute Guide to Buying Health Insurance

While the Affordable Care Act certainly has its detractors, 2014 was a good year for Obamacare. The self-employed, underemployed, or otherwise ineligible took advantage of the state and federal exchanges last year, and their participation drove the nationwide uninsured rate to its lowest ever. Insurance companies posted all-time high share prices in the third quarter last year thanks in part to an increased subscriber base provided by the law’s mandate. Healthcare.gov’s Marketplace is not as bad as you’ve heard. In fact, it’s pretty darn good. But the velvet rope is closing soon: The open enrollment deadline is February 15th.

When An Adjunct Gets An Unlucky Break

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.

The Cost of Things: A Broken Foot in Winter

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.)

Even With Healthcare, We Can’t Always Get Doctors

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.

A Fractured Skull, a Lost Sense of Smell, and a New Job

This summer, my friend Rachel Bailey was working as a waitress in Athens, Ga., doing social media for some restaurants, writing when she could, but not as much as she wanted—just scraping by in a town where it’s easy, sometimes even fun, to just scrape by. But she wasn’t having fun. She’d been out of college a few years and had imagined something more for her 20s. She was feeling anxious, stagnant and just generally crappy about life. And then she hit her head in a piggybacking accident and almost died. And then things got better.