*The quotes are intended to be air quotes, because I’m sassy like that. 😉
I love the United States (US), I really do. I love some parts more than others, so I guess I should honestly say I love parts of the US. I used to also be proud to be from the US, but lately that’s waned a bit. Maybe it’s my age, maybe things are changing, maybe it’s our current POTUS, or maybe it’s all of that. Regardless, I do still love the US, I do, it’s just that…well, healthcare.
I know healthcare isn’t perfect, seemingly anywhere. After having connected with people from all over the world I’ve realized, it’s a difficult system to manage, globally. So I don’t necessarily fault the US directly, or maybe I do. I feel like large portions of the healthcare system in this country could easily change their name to RXaccess and nothing would change. But that’s kind of a whole different discussion. What I’d like to quickly discuss is my experience this past month with “healthcare”.
As a loving parent you are likely to walk across hot coals to help your child have the best life possible. I have always done everything in my power to make sure my son was cared for to the best of my ability. This of course includes healthcare. When I was working I was paying approximately $425 a month for the both of us through my employer. It was a lot but you just do what it takes and keep going. It felt like even more when my son had to go to the ER and I found out ER now was a part of the deductible and that was another $1,000. But again, we had insurance, we live in San Diego and honestly have some top notch medical professionals here, so it was expensive, but good.
Unfortunately, about three and half years ago I fell ill and after three months my employer decided to no longer keep me on (totally respect this decision) but I lost our healthcare coverage, which is mandated in the US. My son was still young enough so we qualified for state funded insurance because I had no income, otherwise known as medi-cal. It’s not pretty, there are no bells and whistles, but you do get seen. Cared for is a stretch, but you do get seen. So that went on for a couple of years and then early 2017 they said my son no longer qualified for state insurance as he was making too much at his job. The lunacy of this should be criminal. The location he works at taxes his hourly wage for all the food he delivers. So his paychecks can end up being significantly less than what it’s showing he earned. I’ve yet to figure this out. Anyway, the guidelines for healthcare coverage don’t care what your paycheck is they only care about before tax pay?? Say what…? That makes no sense. So for instance his before tax pay could be for example $500 and his paycheck could be $250 because of taxes (he’s being taxed on all his food deliveries). None of this would really matter except that the higher income is disqualifying him from receiving state health care and instead he must pay for it, or be fined by the Internal Revenue Service. Ah yes, the land of the free-ish. Sorry to drag you through all that but the first point I was getting to is that he currently doesn’t have health insurance because it’s incredibly expensive and he can’t afford it. And the second point is that I feel gut wrenchingly guilty that I’m sick and cannot provide for him as I normally would. And all of that leads to what’s currently going on.
My son, almost a month ago now, started having pain in his leg. He had spider veins and now he seems to have developed varicose veins. The pain was getting worse and worse. We started to worry he may have a blood clot because the pain was traveling up his leg and very intense at times. So he actually found a doctors office that was willing to do a consultation and ultrasound for free. He jumped at the chance and they assured him it was reflux of the veins and they could cure that for $2,400 per leg. This didn’t sit right with me but more than anything I just wanted my son’s mind to be at ease for five minutes (he takes worrying to another level and has generalized anxiety disorder). So we agreed to think over whatever they say and go from there. Meanwhile they told him to wear compression socks. The first day was great, the second day was excruciating as the pain traveled up the leg above the sock. Anyway, we decided upon a second opinion. In order to do this, health insurance is a must. He just received his annual tax refund so he can afford to pay for a couple months of health insurance. So after days of research and a looming deadline date of…tomorrow. We chose a plan. A few years ago, choosing a health care plan would have taken me 10 minutes tops. Now, my brain couldn’t seem to even comprehend all the plans. My son was looking at me like a frusterated deer in the headlights because there are so many plans and this should be so easy for me. And all I could think was, gosh buddy your guess is as good as mine. He called around and I think we’ve found the right plan. In order to do this we needed to find a doctor who would take this plan that’s familiar with vascular issues. This ten minute task has literally taken more than a week.
Here’s the grand finale. We chose a plan. He paid his premium. The doctors office is very close by and it has a vascular clinic. The office can get him in right away after hearing his symptoms. So what’s the deal? The insurance through California will not be active until March 1st. We spoke with them, asked them if there are exceptions, asked them what if there’s an emergency. The short of it is that they don’t care. It’s a business. It feels like nobody actually cares in healthcare insurance. So my son, who has pain traveling up his leg, a leg that is falling asleep, and an arm that is going numb and tingly, cannot see a doctor for another month. I’m just failing to see what part of that is considered health care? It’s not for the betterment of his health and it’s certainly not caring. If he does start to feel pressure on his chest, like a heart attack, we will go to ER, and that could run well into the $5,000 or more range. So now we wait with crossed fingers and toes, hoping and praying that he’ll be okay for one more month.
America I love you but you’re very broken right now. My son is sick. He needs healthcare. I can do nothing more than what I’ve done. It feels like a kick in the gut, over and over, to have your child be ill and to be able to do nothing for them. So I’ll close by saying that if you are the praying type he could use your prayers.
Thank you for reading along. I know this post is a little flat, but I’m feeling flat, and worried, and exhausted. Netflix is calling me. 😊
Here are a few of my recent watercolor paintings and a comic (Comic copyright The Boston Globe). Please feel free to join along on instagram at #worldwatercolorgroup.