Sunday, December 14, 2014

No bennies, big problems

The other day I was stumbling into the house with a few bags in my hands. I was wearing shoes with a significant heel on them, and I stepped wrong. I felt my ankle roll and crunch and a sharp pain shot through my entire foot. Turned out, I didn't hurt it that bad. It didn't swell. I could walk fine. No harm, no foul. But it did scare the crap out of me. ...

My mind instantly went to my new job. You know what happens when you can't walk in the service industry? You no longer work in the service industry, that's what happens. When you run around in circles for a living, healthy feet are a must. I wondered what I would have done if I had broken my ankle. How would I pay my mortgage? How would I pay any of my bills at all?

If there's one thing I took for granted in my white-collar career, it was the benefits. Having three weeks of paid vacation days, paid sick days, and health insurance was pretty great. When I needed new glasses, I didn't pay a dime. When I needed my teeth cleaned, my insurance covered every penny. I complained a lot about the health coverage because it was expensive, and I still had a $40 copay. But having the coverage got me through many sinus infections, a broken foot, and of course routine checkups and exams.

As of Aug. 1 this year, I've been gambling on my health. There is NO WAY I can afford health insurance, and part-time jobs like mine obviously don't offer benefits. Depending on the (crappy) plan I would choose on the MnSure website, I would pay $191-$200 per month. I can't imagine having that amount of extra money, especially when you just don't know if you're going to use it. And with the deductible I would need to have for that price, the insurance would only pay for MAJOR health issues, like surgery or other in-patient treatments.

It sure is scary, though, not having it. For several years in college and right after college I didn't have health insurance, either. One time I went to the emergency room with a terrible sinus infection. It was day seven of utter tortuous pain. I could feel my heartbeat in my nasal passages. So I went to the ER in Mankato and I waited 90 minutes in the waiting area before going into a room where I was seen for two minutes by an ER doctor. He tapped on my sinuses, asked me my symptoms, and said he was writing me a prescription for antibiotics. About three weeks later I learned what those two minutes cost me: $275. Out of pocket. I had to make payments on a two-minute service.

That's when I started going to Open Door Health Center. They were amazingly kind and welcoming. The doctor was fantastic. And their sliding-fee scale meant that I could actually afford to go to the hospital when I needed to. During these last six months or so in the service industry, that's where I will be going if I get sick. I hope all of the uninsured folks out there know about that place. I can't imagine how many people there must be who just suffer at home, too scared that a trip to the hospital will clean out their checking account. No one should have to choose between food and health care, or rent and health care. And from personal experience, I can tell you that there are a whole lot of us out there who fall into that income bracket where Obamacare isn't helping us.


  1. Hi Amanda,
    IMO, ObamaCare is helping everyone ... my experience is that the coverage is better (wellness checks, vaccines, etc.), the rates are lower, and you can shop for alternative coverages.
    Have you discussed your options with the Open Door Clinic MNsure certified navigators ? They help patients enroll in health insurance and the tax credits are available for a single person earning less than roughly $45,000 ... the $191-200 could be a lot less after the tax credit.
    Remember that uninsured Americans will be required to be pay a tax penalty, so you might find out that it would be a good investment to talk with the navigators.
    Here is a helpful link on MNsure and healthcare which you might find informative

    Best of luck,
    Mac Hall