Thursday, November 11, 2010

Health Insurance

Yesterday I got a notice that my health insurance was cancelled retroactively back to September 1. After many tears, I sent an email to clarify and learned that it was nothing that was my fault, but rather the people who are supposed to pay my premium hadn't paid it. Another few emails and it's theoretically being taken care of. But that's not why I'm writing.

I had a horrible migraine that was getting worse by the minute and all I could think of was, there's no where I can go for help. I can't afford anything. Already, since Sept 1, my insurance company has been billed more than 25% of my annual income. They probably only paid half that, but still, for me that's a huge sum of money. (I don't earn much, but I've seen a lot of docs and gotten a lot of meds in the past 2 months.) So while I'd normally go to the urgent care, I couldn't. I could've also gotten a refill of a prescription that might have helped with the migraine, but I worried about the $300 price tag. It turned the way I think upside down.

All of a sudden I thought I'd have to cancel my appointment with my neurologist next Wednesday and my physical therapy that afternoon. But how could I handle my migraines without my neurologist? (Seriously, I love my neurologist(s). They rock. Everyone I've interacted with at that clinic is awesome. They even wished me a belated happy birthday the week after my birthday. That's how cool they are.) My mom was reassuring me that everything should be worked out by next week, but the truth of the matter is, without insurance I couldn't get almost any of the care I'm getting. This fall I've seen doctors for three things: migraines, carpal tunnel, and ankle problems. The migraines don't result in many visits, but the visits I have are expensive and the medicine is pricey. The carpal tunnel and ankle problems both resulted in 8+ weeks of physical therapy and the ankle problems also led to me needing new orthotics. So if I didn't have insurance, my vision of myself this fall involves massive amounts of pain, from my head, wrists, and ankles. (Yeah, I know, I'm falling apart...)

I know that I'm lucky. I grew up with health insurance and have never had a day without it (that I know of). That's a lot more insurance than many people I know. But I'd also never envisioned a day without it. The fact that I can't comprehend my life without it is a wakeup call to me, showing me how privileged I am that I can, through the grace of insurance, afford this care. This is not meant to be a political rant, I'm not talking about universal health care. I know that some of you have insurance and some of you don't. And I hope that most of you don't need it very often, but for me it is vital. That's something that I hadn't fully realized until yesterday.

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