Health insurance

This article reminds me that I got into an argument with my shrink yesterday about health insurance. I told him he didn’t understand the sheer terror of having a strange symptom when you’re uninsured and not knowing if it’s something really important — like the black floater I’ve had in my eye for the past two weeks.

“So you just go to the doctor!” he says.

“No, you don’t just ‘go to the doctor,'” I said. “You have to see an opthalmologist, and that’s $175 just to walk in the door. Then if he doesn’t find anything, he tells you to see a neurologist. So even without any testing, I could be looking at $400.”

I tell him he’s just too young and financially stable to understand. “I’m not incapable of empathy,” he says.

“No, but you’re young and you will always be able to go to the doctor. So you can imagine my predicament — without ever really understanding it on a gut level.”

And as I tell him almost every session, I certainly agree in theory that my perspective can influence how well I roll with life’s punches, yet people don’t live in a bubble. We’re at the mercy of political and economic forces, too.

19 thoughts on “Health insurance

  1. Do you think progressives would gain more traction on health care reform if we stopped calling for better “health insurance” and instead described it as a need for “health coverage” or simply “health care?”

    You ensure things against accidents. When you “care” for something, it’s more like maintenance or prevention.

  2. When I was young, in college and afterward before I was finally able to get a full-time job with benefits, I had not insurance and every little thing was expensive. I don’t know how many times I ended up at an urgent care clinic or an ER and had to pay through the nose for the treatment. And even now, with a good job and decent benefits, I struggle to pay my co-pays for myself and my kids. So I just don’t understand why can’t someone like that imagine what its like not to have the money to go to the doctor and how much it costs when it is completely out of pocket? Even if he’s never been in that position, does he not understand that if you have a choice between going to the doctor and buying food, unless you’re sure you’re in mortal peril, you buy the food? Does he not understand that if I have to choose between paying out money to investigate something that may or may not be a problem or buying diapers for my kid, the diapers come first?

    Furthermore, does he think that you’re exaggerating or being too negative? Or that you stress over it too much? I don’t see what his point is in bringing it up in therapy. It is stressful not to have healthcare. And that stress leads to more illness, which in turn leads to more health problems….Its a horrible catch-22. I know because I’ve been there.

    If it helps at all, you know you’re not alone and that progressives are working at making it better for all Americans. Small comfort now, I know but there is cause for hope.

  3. No, she’s getting somewhere with this one.
    My counselor spent a good chunk of time single, with a couple of kids, one with disabilities. She probably had insurance, but she’s got a ton of empathy.
    Susie’s counselor maybe needs to listen to what it’s like. Or maybe put Susie’s picture on his credit card, so every time he goes to pay a bill, he’s reminded of somebody who can’t “just pay.”

  4. After my 85 year old mom, who lived alone, had surgery that made it difficult for her to move around while recuperating we begged her surgeon to sign off on permission for Medicare to pay for a home health aide to come a few hours a day while we kids were at work. Along with the refusal, his answer was “Why doesn’t she go stay with a friend? At that age, they’re probably not at work all day.” No idiot, most of them were in nursing homes. And the few that weren’t certainly couldn’t handle dressing and bathing a 120 pound woman. After tearfully explaining the situation to one of his nurses, she informed me that in matters like this he was quite simply, an asshole (her word) – “He just doesn’t live in the same world as us”.

  5. Anybody who would say, ““I’m not incapable of empathy.” Doesn’t have empathy. Its not something you can turn on or off so that you can save the batteries.

  6. So I just called the eye hospital, and it’s $250 just to see someone. (Turns out my symptoms indicate probable vitreous detachment.) I was told I’d have to pay as much as $1000 more — on the day of testing. Guess who’s not going to the eye doctor?

  7. Oh, Susie — does this count as a medical emergency? Or has your a-hole governor killed funding for the clinics? You do not want to lose your vision. But I sure as hell understand that you don’t have that kind of money.

    Now, why was it Obama wouldn’t let people above some point in their 50’s pay into Medicare????

    Oh, yeah. Becasue he’s a Conservative Corporatist NeoLib poseur as a Dem.

  8. Oh. The problem.
    Does it interfere with your vision? Can you still read? Is it only one eye? Has it gotten suddenly much worse?
    If your answer to these questions is no, don’t go. They’ll just tell you it’s a normal part of aging. I know, it’s only younger people that say that, but that’s what they’ll say.

  9. I haven’t read the comments yet, but I will. My own comment will make me sound like an old person, I’m afraid. I’m not though. I’m only 57. Not young, but not OLD either.

    Anyway, my comment is that during all of my growing-up years (born in 1954), my family didn’t have health insurance. No one ever talked about it or even thought about it as far as I know. We hardly ever went to the doctor because we were hardly ever sick. All four kids had their inoculations, of course. I got the measles and never went to the doctor for it. No antibiotics, not ever. No strep, not ever. No flu, not ever.

    Now, my grand daughter is taken to the doctor for every little fever and every little sore throat. Good thing too, since she gets strep a lot, and ear infections, as do all of her friends. They consume antibiotics like they’re part of the food-group pyramid.

    Yes, I know. Time passes, things change.

  10. yes, I have the exact same thing — vitreous detachment causing a floater in one eye. It’s not serious; it’s caused by aging; the vitreous solution in the eye dries up as you age and then it can tear a little bit away.

    You want to watch out for something that looks like a sheer curtain being pulled across your eye — that would indicate retinal detachment.

    But the floater itself is not a problem, is very common for people in their 50s.

  11. Regarding your eye, though, years and years ago I started studying alternative health ideas. I’m not sure why but it fascinates me. I’m not familiar with floaters very much, except for the common-sense things that I’m sure you’ve already tried.

    Ophthalmologist? $1000? No, I wouldn’t be going to the doctor either.

  12. I grew up as a dependent in the US military receiving free government provided healthcare courtesy of Uncle Sam. Whenever anyone in my family was sick, we just walked in, signed in, got treated. I has hospitalized for two weeks and the incidental charge was $17. When my mother needed specialty care, they flew her to another state to receive it.

    Don’t let anyone tell you the government can’t provide good quality care. They can; they do; they have for years.

  13. Heck, maybe it’s even diet related. I know you’ve been doing Atkins diet, or at least Atkins-like, for awhile now. I’m not saying to stop, I’m just saying that it’s been a change in your life-style. If so, maybe there are ways to balance it in order to rid yourself of floaters, should that be the case.

    Just a thought.

  14. Also, I can’t remember the medicine you’re taking for certain other things right now. But, maybe floaters are a side-effect? For example, without going into the life story, my daughter was taking Tramadol for some problems she was having. After a time, she started having seizures. Turns out, that’s one of the possible side-effects of Tramadol. I Googled it. She stopped taking it and, voila’, no more seizures.

    Just another thought.

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