I’ve spent the past few days being ill, and am still trying to get through what looks to be another week of “recovery.” Nothing “serious,” as in life-threatening, may need hospitalization, etc., but in terms of being abjectly miserable, it’s been right up there on my list. I went to the local clinic Monday morning, and the diagnosis was a cold with a sinus infection. I got a prescription for antibiotics, and a listing of over-the-counter medications to take, along with the usual “rest, and plenty of fluids” advice. I’ll probably be back to work on Monday. It’s all very standard, nothing remarkable about it – now. As I’ve recovered enough, and with some time on my hands, I realized that yes, it is “remarkable.” 8 years ago, I would have been in some serious trouble with this .
You see, back then, I didn’t have health insurance. It wasn’t because I didn’t want it, I simply didn’t have any money to buy it. I was working a “bridge job,” something which just barely paid enough to cover my rent, food, and transportation, and no margin whatsoever. It was very much a job with no sick time or benefits, and if you didn’t show up for work, you didn’t get paid. You might, if the boss was in the mood, be allowed to take the time off, but you would be put on shaky ground. Even with the job, I would not have been able to pay the clinic fees, the prescription might have been beyond my reach, and I know the OTC medicines would have made a serious dent in my virtually empty bank account. So what I would have been looking at was not just being sick, but a major financial blow and possible unemployment. Compared to then, this illness (despite how I feel physically) is a piece of cake. Yes, it’s miserable, and I have no voice left, but it’s not a looming financial disaster.
I’m reminded of that time, and that there are many others who face that situation today, every time I listen to some conservative expound on the joys of the free market in healthcare, or make a number of ignorant statements about why people don’t have health insurance. They’ve never really had to face that themselves, or if they ever were without insurance, it was when they were young, healthy, and didn’t think they needed it. I’ve got an idea for government savings, though. Let’s take away their government health insurance. No, really. They have to find and pay for their own, totally out of pocket, no “employer subsidy.” That includes if they were drawing a military retirement or state employee benefits. Yes, some of them “took a stand” by not accepting the Congressional health plan, because they already had equal or better benefits from their previous government position. I think we’d save a nice bit of change and reduce the deficit. I also think that within a few months they’d be shoving it back into law as fast as they could manage.