From 2008 to 2010 I was an uninsured, recent graduate working three part time jobs. I was living paycheck to paycheck, no savings. (I did have car that was paid off and an adorable rented apartment off of the Plaza though.) Going without health insurance did not bother me as a twenty something - that is to say, until I needed it. (As with most thing in life.) Suddenly, I found myself in need of an emergency procedure with no out of pocket funds to pay for it. Before anyone in the medical profession would assist me I was forced to take out my first Credit Card to pay for the entire procedure up front. (Thankfully, I was approved, I guess.)
It took me a year to slowly pay that Credit Card off. (But yet again, leaving me with no savings.)
I was angry that opening up a credit card was my only option. That I was forced into it. All because I wasn’t able to get full time employment with benefits - and had aged out of my parent’s coverage. It was an awful feeling.
When I went to my first GP appointment in the UK, needing a physical for University - I was amazed. Any residing citizen was able to go in, receive assistance and leave without paying a pence! There was no billing department. There wasn’t a receptionist judging and rolling their eyes at you as you try to explain why you were uninsured. It was an amazing feeling.
As we planned our immigration to the US, the possibility of being uninsured was brought up.
I never wanted to be in that situation again, nor put my family through it. A feeling of helplessness when you are at your most vulnerable. Having to choose between food or medical care. By ignorance or optimism - we clouded ourselves around the thought that it would not happen to us. (Dummies.) We are both very capable and employable people - one of us was definitely going to get health insurance. No worries, right?
Well, one of us did find employment with benefits. The cost of insurance was beyond the salary I made, but we were signed up and promised an October start date for the insurance coverage. I had been getting ill the last few months, so it was important to me that I get in to be seen as soon as.
My employment started, contracts signed, and WHAM! “Sorry to inform you, your insurance begins in November”. A month difference, no biggie right? Well, as I was getting sicker and sicker, we had no money coming in - I had to put off seeing a doctor. Until I couldn’t.
$136 GP Appointment (That is with a 30% discount for being uninsured)
$175 Blood-work taken**
I had to decline a CAT Scan - as there is no way in affording that.
And here we are. Three months into our American adventure. Still uninsured. This time around, we do not have an option of opening a Credit Card.*
*Tip for anyone moving abroad - KEEP YOUR BANK ACCOUNT OPEN IN THE U.S. Inactivity within the US screws your credit score into the ground
**That is what they told me it would cost, later on I would receive a bill for $387 thus beginning a new adventure in negotiating between a doctor’s office and laboratory - fun shit.
I am a Mother.
I had written out the entire gory detailed story on how it had come about but my Health Visitor arrived shortly after and I lost it all. Always press save!
Oh well, no one really wants to read about the whole thing - so I shall summarise.
It was long, it was not straight forward and it ended with the best surprise of my life. The Midwives, student Midwives, Doctors, surgical team, anesthesiologist & hospital staff were all fantastic.
Notable moments :
- Sixty-four hours of contractions and no sleep during latent labour.
- Injuring myself during the beginning of my active labour.
- My “Labour Mix” playing a random selection of showtunes and songs that relax me for twelve hours straight repeatedly.
- Frustratingly seeing my three cheerleaders face go from elation to depression with every push.
- The doctor informing me we were now in an emergency situation.
- Holding my student Midwife’s hand all through surgery.
- Watching “the worst magic trick” happening to my vagina from the reflection in the lights.
- Repeatedly saying ‘shit’ upon seeing my child pulled from me.
- My husband telling me we have a daughter.
- Realising our wants/needs/sleep are taking a backseat to this tiny human’s.
Cue Patrick Stewart’s intro dialogue to “Star Trek : The Next Generation”.
Not an instructional blog but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - so help me Mom.