I voted for President Obama because I wanted change. In retrospect it sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it? But I believed that with a pull of a lever on Election Day, poof, I would see an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an improvement in the economy and medical insurance being made available for people like myself. None of this happened. I regret my decision. Now I must deal with thinking about two of my twenty three year old son’s friends fighting in a third war, gas back up at $4.45 a gallon and hoping money falls from the sky to pay for doctor appointments.
I’m an bespectacled, educated forty something divorced woman who knows better than to really believe that the dollars just appear. I can list my employment interchangeably as either a writer or unemployed after a television fell on my wrist on the job moments before I was to leave it. I’m not lucky enough to have the possibility of medical insurance through an employer. And I’ve found out that I’m not considered sufficiently lacking in resources to qualify for Medicaid or any other government assisted program.
I guess I shouldn’t whine because I’m fortunate for one thing. Although I‘ve slipped through the social service cracks, “Obamacare” has helped my adult child. He works as an independent contractor and gets medical insurance through his father’s coverage that his dad pays extra for. .
I found out that I couldn’t be approved for Medicaid because I have no lease for the apartment I rent. My landlord wanted it that way. At the time, I didn’t think anything wrong with that. He, also, asked that I get a post office box for my mail. He said he had many tenants through the years and that it would be better that way. Again, I had no problem with that. Anyway, a post office box gave me privacy. The other renters on the property wouldn’t see my bills. But I soon found out without proof of a street address, no Medicaid. It’s like I don’t exist.
I struggle without medical insurance. At the same time, I’ve been lucky. One hospital was nice enough to offer me financial assistance from the institution when I needed a mammography and breast surgery. I received favorable news. I’ll be all right. This same facility continues to cover emergency room visits for me. One such time, as I was coughing up post nasal drip I was told, “Honey, don’t worry about the bill. You’re a charity case.“ But that does not replace a primary care physician (remember when those were called internists?) or a specialist for a chronic pre existing condition, asthma. Nor does it substitute for the dermatologist the breast surgeon said I need to see for a spot on my back next to my Tinkerbelle tattoo.
Again, I attempted to get Medicaid. This time I found out that it wouldn’t matter if I could show a street address because my income is too high. From what paychecks I asked? The economic assistance I receive from relatives who, themselves, are struggling is added up by the government. My “rent is too damn high” to qualify.
So I asked a clinic what could be done. Their dermatologist was one hour away from me. I worried about the price of gas for my eighteen year old car with a failing transmission and a limping starter. I didn’t want the clunker to die on the road. The mini medical center said I would need to see a primary care physician closer to my home. In just one phone call, they believed that the breast surgeon may have been too obsessed with an unnecessary surgery. I thought ok, fine. Except, although with only a couple of postage stamps in my wallet, I was told I would have to pay for the office visit. They said they bill everyone, “even the undocumented.”
I was stunned into believing I would have to go to the emergency room for health care. They would’ve referred me to a dermatologist, anyway. At that point, a bookkeeper at the hospital sent me to someone who would direct me to a social worker who helped me get an appointment with a private doctor, for free.
Two and a half years later, I’m waiting for the American involvement in these now three wars to end, the economy to pick up and for me, along with so many others, to have the ability, either through being employed or by a government program to get medical insurance.