Saturday, September 19, 2009

slavery and wealthcare

It used to be that I was scornful of those who clung to their jobs for the health insurance. I was sure that my good fortune would continue forever. Of course, it didn't. Even when I had enough money to buy individual, private insurance, I had what is known as catastrophic health insurance with a $5000, then later a $10,000 deductible.

I paid for all of my medical bills in cash. Is it any wonder that I chose to have two home births, totaling a mere $6000? I have no doubt that the docs at any hospital in America would have insisted that I have a C-Section for my first child, after 36 hours of labor, which would have driven up the cost of her birth quite a lot. Even under the company health insurance my ex-husband got later while he was gainfully employed, having my second child at home seemed a logical cost structure. $3K, cash from the insurance company that time, and they even sprang for a Douala, but I digress.

After I had my daughter I was diagnosed with my now "pre-existing" illness -- Hashimoto's Thyroiditus. It's an auto-immune disease that basically pits my immune system against all the thyroid, my little glad can produce. To correct this heinous disease I take synthetic thyroid to replace all of the thyroid my immune system kills off. It costs about $10 a month without insurance. Because of this life-long medical need, I cannot qualify for private health insurance.

I have not had health insurance since 2001. Nada. Zip. When my son landed in the emergency room from dehydration from a flu, we had to arrange a payment plan to pay them off. When I landed in the emergency room with pneumonia and a fever of 103, I paid for it through an "Indigent Patient" plan that's available in Colorado.

Being a freelance writer and teacher necessarily means that private health insurance is my only option...until new husband, a project engineer, seems on the precipice of being offered a company job, and with that health insurance. It's just shimmering out there on the horizon like the light of the rising sun on the ocean. I have to say that I'm excited about it.

What concerns me is though, that scornful shrug of my inner patriot, who says, "I should have the freedom to pursue happiness," and for me that is writing, and creating and teaching. I feel guilty and concerned that my husband now will take a job solely to get the health insurance. He is excellent at what he does, but will he be trapped by the company who hires him because if he leaves he risks not only his own health care, but mine as well?

It seems to me that this current system of wealthcare, serving only those wealthy enough to afford it independently, or those foolish enough to become indentured servants for its most meager benefits is very dangerous to the "pursuit of happiness."

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