As a child, I was desperate to get a cast. Sometime in elementary school, my classmates started showing up with brightly colored arms and legs, in casts to protect their broken bones that were silently healing.
I did not understand this miraculous process.
Reading: Broken bone no insurance what to do
all I saw was neon colored plaster to be signed, attention lavished on the cast wearer as they told and retold their brave stories of adventures through hospital emergency rooms and doctor visits.
I was so desperate for a cast that I decided to take matters into my own hands (legs) by climbing and jumping from tall structures, attempting to break a bone. I jumped from trees, swings and the roof of our house. To my dismay, all attempts failed and I was relegated to relying on the normal course of life to lead to a broken bone and subsequent acceptance into the elusive cast club.
It turns out that life is not without a sense of humor; At 33 years old, I finally broke a bone. Unfortunately, getting a cast was dropped from my priority list a long time ago.
When I hit 30, I finally began to accept the relative fragility of my human body.
I started setting goals during physical activity as “having fun” and “not getting hurt,” instead of the aggressive “win at all costs” mentality of my 20s.
But, I’m just a work in progress. At a New York City Gay Basketball League (NYCGBL) game, with only a few minutes left, I took on the biggest guy on the court. we collided and I knew as soon as I stood up that my wrist was broken. What hurt more than my rapidly swelling wrist was knowing that I no longer had health insurance.
Like many Americans, I was stuck in the insurance gap between jobs and knew I had limited options. my previous insurance coverage ended the last day I was on payroll, and my new job had a 30-day waiting period before enrollment. As a white able-bodied person with educational and approved privileges and a modest amount of resilience for life’s unexpected stresses, I felt overwhelmed and anxious.
I couldn’t afford the emergency room costs or the specialists the ER doctor who took the X-rays and provided me with a temporary splint recommended.
what would I do?
Where could you go to get the medical care you clearly needed? How would my job be affected by my new employer, whom I was trying to make a good impression on?
After a bit of a delay, I finally received my paid paperwork from my former employer. the amount they wanted me to pay out of pocket (just for one month’s coverage) was $700, much more than many workers can afford. As the panic set in, I did what I think a lot of Americans do at times like these: try to make peace with an untreated, life-altering injury. It was a hard pill to swallow, but what choice did I have?
When I expressed my resigned hopelessness about getting treatment to a friend who works in healthcare (lgbt), he calmly talked to me about my options. As a person living in New York City, I was able to see some of the best doctors in the United States even though I didn’t have insurance.
This possibility puzzled me. but honestly, it shouldn’t be like that.
When I sought care at Bellevue Hospital in New York, I was greeted with kindness and compassion, even though the staff was completely overwhelmed with patients in need. I saw the love of Christ in his tireless commitment to serve each person under his care, regardless of whether they had health insurance or not.
We should live in a country where accidents, illnesses, and injuries don’t threaten to break our bank accounts, put us in debt, or relegate us to a reduced life expectancy. we should live in a country that views our physical and mental health as matters of “national security,” that values our lives as much as it values the strength of our currency.
Even with today’s reassuring news that the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act has failed, I’m thinking of those who are supported by medicaid and medicare emergency services and cannot suffer a disruption in your attention.
I’m thinking of the people who shared hospital waiting rooms and free clinic lines with me for hours on end, to be served by friendly but overworked hospital staff. And I’m reminded of how willing members of Congress and the Senate were to end access to health care, while enjoying some of the best health care in America.
I cannot bear such disregard for the welfare of my neighbors, friends and family.
While today’s news gives me some hope that we can continue to change our country’s thinking about caring for people, it reminds me that it won’t happen without a fight.
I will not forget how precarious access to quality, affordable health care is. and I will be vigilant to ensure that my temporary reality does not become a permanent existence for so many millions of our brothers across the country.
photo provided by carl charles
See also: Life Insurance Illustrations