back in the summer of 2009, i was about to enter my last year of graduate school. i was poor, as grad students are wont to be, but thanks to the fact that i lived in Massachusetts and was full time at university, i had some excellent health insurance. insurance that kept me in birth control, inhalers, therapy appointments and the occasional trip to the ER for panic attacks (hey, it was grad school).
still, i spent that summer absolutely blowing up facebook about the health care legislation that was slowly winding its way through the sausage-making hell that is Washington. i raged, and raged, and raged about it, about the ridiculous town halls, about single payer, and so on. i was watching this all very closely, for the simple fact that i very much had a dog in this fight: i knew that, the following May, my insurance gravy train was up. and barring me hanging my head in shame and returning to Starbucks to starve on poverty wages, i did not have any conceivable way to get it.
i did have a temporary reprieve the year after grad school – i ended up staying in Massachusetts, and my employer at the time (who was a doctor) was kind enough to give me money every month so i could buy a decent plan on The Health Connector. this came in handy when a bout of airplane bronchitis nearly turned into pneumonia the following spring. i relied on my insurance, and my boss’s largesse for calling in prescriptions whenever i needed them.
but that was two years ago. since then, i have been without any kind of health insurance. i have been one car accident, one infection, one bike crash away from financial and possible bodily ruin. i know this, and it hangs over my head like the sword of Damocles every day. the irony of all of this is most of the last two years i have spent fully employed, but through jobs that didn’t offer health insurance, or through a patchwork of part time jobs that pay well but have no benefits. in other words, i am the person who these health insurance marketplaces were made for.
well, Bethany, you say, find a full time job. to this i say: i do have a full time job. one of my jobs is 24 hours a week, the other is 12 and the other is 5. through these i make a solid, middle class living (enough to buy a house!). i’ve done the math in this regard: if i were to find a full time job, say, working at a non profit, i’d probably be taking a pay cut of somewhere between $5000 and $10000 a year. i’m sorry, i really don’t want to do that. i’d rather put that extra money in the bank and hope a SEPTA bus doesn’t hit me next week.
so. tomorrow i will go on the internet, and buy health insurance. and then i will mentally give a middle finger to the conservative douchebags who thought i didn’t deserve this because i was a moocher or weak or lazy or didn’t fit their vision of success. and then i will give another middle finger to the weenie ass liberals who couldn’t manage to make single payer an even remotely viable option.
god bless america.