• Under (Health) Insured

    I have tried getting health insurance so many times, I have stopped trying. Rejected for a biopsied mole here, an Upper GI test there, these tests are on my permanent record like something I accidentally wrote in pen instead of pencil and I can’t find the Wite-Out. And even though I’m trying to redeem myself, waiting “x” number of years for “y” issue on my record to disappear so that “z” insurance companies don’t question my “past history” health responses and hold them against me, a game I cannot win, it’s like they only look at the flaws, not the progress I’ve made: less tests the last few years, mainly because they’re too darn expensive without insurance. So the cycle continues… I get the tests taken, paying cash out-of-pocket should I be so lucky to have spare cash, knowing full well my chances of getting approved by a health insurance provider have probably just decreased… again… But at least I got that mole checked.

    I know health is supposed to be our #1 priority; that’s what others tell us, “good health is everything” and “if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” Though the sentiment may be free, why can’t the execution be more affordable? “Nothing” is expensive.

    Some people become alarmed when they learn I don’t have health insurance, “What if something happens?” Good question. I want to tell them I’m not avoiding it on purpose. Others think it’s nice that I don’t have to pay a few hundred dollars a month for it, saying they rarely use theirs. But isn’t there comfort in knowing it’s there if you need it? Plus, all the “cash patient” expenses–the doctor’s visits, the tests, the medications–add up. Fast. And there’s always that unpredictable “What if something happens?” looming in the background like a vulture waiting to attack.

    Since Sunday, I have had a throbbing ear ache, throat pain, and fever that I hope is a sinus infection, not the start of another two-month flu-turned-cold-turned-bronchitis like I had just a few months ago. I have no time for that. None of us do.

    For an uninsured person, the question is always: Do I wait it out – or spend hard-earned money to go to the doctor? A non-clinic doctor ranges in price from $200-400 in L.A. (believe me, I’ve called around), plus they don’t have any available appointments for 4-8 weeks. Never mind. Urgent care is about $100 and the hours are more flexible. The CVS Minute Clinic (which I love) is $80, though the last time I went to one, what they prescribed did not work and I had to end up finding another (more expensive) doctor, anyway, paying two doctors for the price of one. Of course, there are the free clinics, though if time is money, I should be working instead of waiting for an appointment all day.

    I have been waiting it out, taking allergy medications, hoping my sinus/cold symptoms would disappear without my needing to pay to see a doctor. Nine times out of ten, said doctors say it’s allergies, anyway, then point me to the appointment desk, where I can pay on my way out, hoping my debit card isn’t declined. (I don’t use credit cards, but that’s another post.)

    Yesterday, a friend told me about a Health Truck (think Food Truck with Band-Aids instead of tacos) that goes around L.A., from TV studio lot to TV studio lot. Supposedly, if you don’t have insurance and work on such a lot, a doctor or nurse (I’m not quite sure) on the truck will see you for only $25, which sounded like the answer to my waiting game. The truck happened to be at my lot yesterday. I did a walk-by and I must admit: I was afraid to go in. I imagined the inside looking like a dilapidated motor home, bloody bandages on the floor like an L.A. emergency room I was once in.

    I walked into my work and thanked my co-worker for the idea, but said I couldn’t do it. He nearly pushed me back out the door.

    The nurse and doctor I saw were probably the nicest, most knowledgeable ones I’ve ever seen. They confirmed my suspicions: a sinus infection. At least I’ll take the right medications now instead of guessing between cold and sinus pills. They asked why I didn’t have health insurance, even though they knew the answer as several other patients had the same response as I did.

    I can’t wait for the day I don’t have to worry about being rejected by health insurance providers as though I am waiting for college acceptance letters. That, or the day when no matter what job I take, it comes with insurance, no questions asked, and no wrong answers if they do ask.

    In the meantime, I am grateful to Health Trucks like the one I went to yesterday.

    Do you have health insurance? Through work or on your own? If not, what kind of clinics or doctors do you go to?

    Thanks for reading!

    And feel free to “Like” this post if you can relate to it.

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  • Ryan says:Reply
    May 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    It’s so rough. I’m sure you’ve looked into it, but if you’ve been without insurance for 6+ months, you should be eligible for a Pre Existing Condition Plan https://www.pcip.gov/– a new feature put in place by Obamacare to hold people off until pre-existing conditions are completely off the table in 2014.

    I recently called Anthem Blue Cross about it (I have insurance through my employer but was looking at potentially going to a consulting situation, but that’s not looking likely since I can’t go without insurance for 6 months with my current health situation) and seems like you might be eligible. Not sure how much it covers or how much it costs, but something could be better than nothing depending — I know sometimes doctors won’t even see you if they know you don’t have insurance.

    Hope you feel better. I know just the stress of not having health insurance can affect your health. And even more so when people claim that it’s your own fault for not having insurance and getting sick, as if you could control that.


  • Natalie says:Reply
    May 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Our health care system is broken! I was almost denied health insurance be ause a couple of years ago I had an EKG at my family doctor. My heart was literally skipping a beat for about a week. Turns out it was indigestion. However, that test nearly ruined my chances of health care. For 19 years I never worried about health care because I was covered with American Express as an employee. Since then I’ve had to pay for my own and it still barely covers anything at all. Maybe we could start a revolution!

  • Natalia says:Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Thank you, Ryan. Great ideas! I wish you well, too. It’s a shame you cannot switch jobs *and* be able to keep your insurance!

  • Natalia says:Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Natalie – Wow! Crazy! Yes, I hate how health tests we take are held against us… A revolution sounds good! Let’s!

  • Jeramy Saeturn says:Reply
    November 3, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Earache can be really annoying but i usually take some pain killers and antibiotics to manage it.`

    My favorite online site