I’m writing this blog while on hold with Social Security. Horrible, distorted synthesized keyboard music is filling my office with noise and my soul with rage. Usually they offer to call back instead of making you wait, but I must have hit the wrong button or said No when I should have said Yes because, well, here I am.
This is my first official business of the New Year. The first sign that the Holiday Season is over and real life is back at hand. Not that I mind. I love the holidays, but I love real life as well. Even being on hold with Social Security. I mean, love might be a strong word, but you get the point.
I’m on hold with them because about nine months ago someone gave me wrong information. I won’t get into the details, but because of this wrong information I’ve been woefully underinsured for the past two months. I’ve been told that everything will get sorted. Keep going to the doctor, and things will be paid retroactively. “Ok,” I say as politely as I can, but their words are cold comfort while staring at thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Part of me feels petty complaining about it. I’m having my life saved, what’s some paper work, financial discomfort, and time spent on spent on hold? It’s just frustrating because I’ve done everything right. I’ve had insurance. I’ve paid my premiums. I’ve figured out my deductibles. I’ve set up payment plans for things I can’t afford. And still, STILL, there are mountains of bills and endless time spent on hold trying to figure it all out.
I’ll just work more. Like a good American, that’s always my first instinct. But long term medical care is disruptive. There are things I used to do to support myself, like waiting tables, that are really hard to do now. Plus my teaching schedule, plus the time, the actual physical time that getting the treatment takes. Not to mention doing the things I need to do outside of treatment to heal, it's not like I can just throw another job or two into my life to take care of this.
Please note- I’m not writing this so anyone will feel pity or slip me a $20. (If you love the blog, however, and want to become a Patreon that’s a different story. Check the comments or the bottom of the blog for more information.)
And please don’t think I’m depressed. I’m so jazzed about the good news from the scan I can barely stop smiling!
But the medical industry in this country places a massive financial burden on people who are sick. On people who have had their lives upended. And it’s not just people with cancer or other super serious diseases. Take a look at your yearly deductible. In addition to the monthly bill, you probably don’t get a thing until you pay five to ten thousand out of pocket.
I'm not pretending to be smart enough to know the perfect answer. I do think we need some sort of Medicare for everyone. Short of that, a public option to keep the BlueCross and BlueShields of the world from gouging us and arbitrarily deciding what they will and will not pay for.
Because people need to be able to focus on getting better. Not how in the world they’re going to pay for it.
Now if you'll excuse, I'm going to make another pot of coffee and attempt to find something beautiful about this Muzak. If I can do that, maybe I am smart enough to figure out the American Medical System. Have a happy Thursday!