A few weeks ago, I attended a gathering for Democratic hopefuls in my area. They all seemed nice and they spoke of topics near and dear to my heart. Only one candidate held my particular interest. He is running for the District Congressional seat and he’s planning to replace the current Democratic Congressman.
This Representative hopeful used to be a superintendent, which meant he was big on education. That was wonderful to hear when the dubious Rick Santorum is against education unless it’s home schooling or a good ol’ Catholic education.
With my sinus infection experience being relatively recent, I was interested in hearing what the Congressional hopeful thought about Health Care. I’m not a very straightforward person. Yet, I did muster up the courage to march up to the man and ask him about Health Care.
He stated that he didn’t completely agree with Obamacare and that it needed work. That’s fine. I respect his opinion. However, I did not like that he blew off an important topic with a negligent line or two.
Great! He thinks that Obamacare needs work. It sucks that he was highly uninterested in tackling such an important issue and helping to work through the kinks. I refused to move away from his path. This candidate needed to know why the issue was important to a constituent like me.
I informed him of my situation: I’m a substitute teacher desperate to find a full-time job and receiving none. Then I told him my Individual Health Insurance fiasco.
There was a time I tried to obtain Individual Health Insurance. I found a $100 a month policy, a relatively low deductable, and wonderful coverage for doctor visits and prescriptions.
I filled out the paperwork with a euphoric knowledge that I could finally visit my family physician and get quality health care for my growing allergic needs.
Then I received a letter (cue dramatic music) stating the company would add another $150 to my monthly bill raising it to a total of $250 per month. Why? According to the Health Insurance Company, I’m too tall and too fat. Too fat…sure. I won’t lie to myself.
My height is another matter. I never knew being too tall was a “previous condition” and subject to a rate increase. I could no longer afford the insurance and had to cancel the coverage.
I was incredibly satisfied when the “too tall” portion of my tale finally snagged the attention of the Congressional hopeful. His eyes grew extremely large upon hearing that little tidbit. Since I finally found myself under the undivided attention of the man, I told him about my latest $140 sinus infection craziness.
I’ve been without health insurance since the age of 22 – ten years ago and counting — when my mother’s health insurance would no longer cover me. At the time, I was in college so I didn’t worry about insurance. The college had a clinic and they offered Student Health Insurance that cost ~$700 for the year (the price steadily rose each year).
A few years later, I dropped the Student Health Insurance when I discovered that it wouldn’t pay for a visit to my family physician. The only thing it covered was Emergency Room visits…that’s about it. Since I’ve only been to the ER twice in my life and hadn’t visited in several years, I felt assured that I could get by without the $800 per year cost of ER only Student Health Insurance. As long as I had access to a clinic I was fine (even though it took five visits per illness for them to figure out what ailed me and how to cure it).
My situation regarding lack of the almighty health insurance became a true worry when I graduated from college with a Master’s degree. Unfortunately, I had no job prospects since Universities in my area rely heavily on “who you know, not what you know” values. I resorted to a career in substitute teaching. The only benefits offered in this illustrious career are classroom experience and teacher’s retirement.
Yet, I wasn’t going to let the lack of health insurance get me down. My only big worry was getting into a car accident. In that case, car insurance would cover those hospital bills. I didn’t have any unique diseases since I was a little girl (i.e., strep throat) and the only diseases that plagued me (e.g., cold, allergies, etc.) did so over and over again. Hence, I knew what to do in case of the familiar.
Recently, I was plagued by something common, yet not exactly familiar to me. It’s called a sinus infection. For a month, I could barely hear out of my left ear and I was constantly bombarded with headaches so severe that I couldn’t stand lit rooms. I couldn’t even watch TV.
Unfortunately, I found myself in the unenviable situation where I must decide between three options. (1) I wait it out and hope that it’s temporary. (2) I visit a clinic when the problem is beyond my control and risk spending a chunk of my paycheck that I need for other things. (3) I run the risk of whatever it is getting worse and I would have to seek hospital assistance if the clinic couldn’t help me.
My situation didn’t get any better and I went to the Walgreens Take Care Clinic for assistance. The Take Care Clinic classifies allergies as an illness. Illness treatments cost a wonderful $89 without the added cost of tests. Positive: It’s lower than seeing a general physician — if they see you without health insurance — that runs ~$200. Negative: A mere $89 is significantly higher than the $20-30 co pay that the lucky people with health insurance pay.
I can’t say anything bad about the Take Care Clinic. I can’t even fault them for their pricing. The Nurse Practitioner was very knowledgeable and very understanding. She told me I had a sinus infection and gave me three prescriptions. Usually, it would only take one prescription of antibiotics to get rid of a pesky sinus infection. Since I waited so long before seeing a medical professional, my infection would need a few more meds.
She was very helpful in finding me a pharmacy that had a “free prescription” list. It’s a list of prescriptions some pharmacies have where they give a certain amount of pills for free. That was great news! I wouldn’t have to pay for a 10 day prescription of antibiotics. Then I needed the three day prescription of steroids which doesn’t cost much. Not bad. Yet, it was the Flonase that jacked up the pharmacy bill to a whopping $51.
The only frustraiting aspect of this whole experience was dealing with the pharmacist. Before filling the perscription, she asked me if I had health insurance. I told her no. While she was filling the perscription, she asked again and I gave her the same answer. When the perscription was filled and she was about to total my bill, she asked Are you sure you don’t have health insurance?
What did the woman want me to say? I guess the perscrption is really expensive so I’ll walk away and attempt to find someone to give me free faith healing?! I NEEDED those perscriptions to get better. Instead of answering her again, I glared at her and held out my hand for the perscription bag. When she told me $51 (she acted like the perscription would be $200), I handed her my debit card, completed the transaction, and left.
My total bill for a simple sinus infection: $140 and a boat-load of frustration. If the GOP thinks this is a “small cost” then they’ve never had a job with the average bi-weekly paycheck of $350 — $600 at best.
After I was done with my story, I asked the Congressional hopeful, “If a simple sinus infection cost me $140, how much will it cost if I ever have cancer?”
Trust me, my tale to the man was much shorter. I added details since this is my blog and I get to do that.