Indentured for Insurance: I’m a Slave to My Health Care


“What am I going to do? COBRA costs almost half my rent,” I wept to a friend of mine. “I can’t afford health insurance anymore, but we all know I’m one of those people who has to have it.”

All my friends laugh, but they agree there is no way I can risk being uninsured. I have a tendency to live life at full tilt and with that kind of energy comes a higher propensity for bizarre ailments and injuries.

There was the time I split my chin open in yoga (jumping from chatturanga to crow’s pose–I overshot) three days before a dear friend’s wedding in which I was a bridesmaid (ten stitches—the bride was not pleased with me). Once, a full length mirror fell near me and shattered, with a shard slicing open my leg before a callback for a national commercial (ended up in the ER instead of the callback—15 stitches).

I broke my hand on a guy’s face when I accidentally connected with him during a stage fight (major surgery with a rod inserted in my hand). Then there were the two knee surgeries (a function of years as a professional dancer). Oh, and I actually got swine flu. Seriously.

My hospital record is thick. I actually had a nurse comment once, “Oh, you’ve been here before.” Yes, ma’am. A few times too many.

For years, I never had to worry about coverage. I was very fortunate to work as a professional dancer/singer/actress and I managed to qualify for very decent health insurance through the Actors Equity Association. But about six years ago, everything changed.

The First Time I Lost My Health Insurance

To begin, the health fund through my union started to suffer (read: go bankrupt), so they began upping the number of weeks a performer had to work in order to qualify for insurance benefits. It went from ten weeks per year to 12 weeks to qualify for six months of insurance, and 20-24 weeks to get a year (virtually impossible for most performers unless they are in a long-running Broadway show or national tour).

Though I had been blessed with consistent work, I lost my health insurance for the first time when I found myself undergoing my first major knee surgery five years ago. I needed about three more weeks of work in the yearly period to qualify. But oh, right … I was on crutches!!! No one was going to hire me to perform in a show if I crutched my way in to an audition.

I appealed to the Union, asking them to freeze the weeks I had accrued until I was healthy again, but they pretty much ignored me. I lost all those qualifying weeks, because if you don’t use them within a year, they take them away.

I went on COBRA for the first time. And holy what? It was like $650 per month. How on earth was I supposed to pay for that and a Manhattan apartment? I was in sticker shock.

But I paid, knowing that at any moment something horrible might happen (like the swine flu episode, for example … I was really sick). For part of the year I managed to qualify for a government subsidy for artists, which cut my COBRA payment in half and made it almost doable. But as soon as that was done, I watched the money I had once thought would be a down payment on my own place someday dwindle, owing to the additional expense of health insurance.

Something Had to Give

After I recovered from my first knee surgery, I landed a Broadway show and during that run qualified for another six months of coverage through the Union. I was feeling good … until I reinjured my knee in that show and had to have a second knee surgery. And after another long stint on crutches and rehab, I lost my insurance again.

Back to the COBRA payments, which were insult to injury … literally. This time, they’d gone up to almost $750 per month, with a $500 yearly deductible. I kept paying, and kept watching my savings disappear. As my financial stress levels skyrocketed because I wasn’t in a show anymore and didn’t have coverage as a freelance writer, I began to panic. Something had to give.

I switched to “disaster insurance” through a freelancer’s union type of program. But even that was $300 a month, with a $6,000 deductible. I felt like I couldn’t even go to the doctor.

I called it my “I’ve been hit by a bus while rollerblading in NYC and I don’t want my parents to go broke trying to cover my bills” insurance, because that was the only possible scenario when paying that deductible would be rational. I could no longer see my neurologist (migraines), my orthopedist (knees), my therapist (which I needed because of this insurance stress!), my chiropractor or even my regular gynecologist (I had to go on their “Healthy Woman” plan; they still ended up charging me $60 for lab fees because I didn’t know to ask my doctor to send my lab work somewhere in my health plan’s network).

With a $1,000+ deductible for pharmaceuticals, I had no choice but to recruit one of my best friends from Mexico as my “drug mule.” When she would go home to visit family, I would have her bring me back a couple of Z-pacs in case I got a bronchial infection and some muscle relaxers for my migraine headaches. It was the only way I could afford it in case I got really sick.

My Quest for Other Options

I realized that this disaster insurance/drug mule plan wasn’t healthy, either … so I started looking for other options. I found that one of the gyms in New York City offers insurance if you teach a certain number of classes per week. So, though I hadn’t taught in years, I immediately started teaching again … a lot! But it took me a year to get enough permanent classes to qualify for their employee plan.

Even that insurance (for which I’m insanely grateful; I’ve been on the program for a few months now), still requires I deduct $120 to $240 per month from my paycheck depending on how many classes I teach a week, usually eight to ten. With that much physical activity, I am going to need the insurance because my body is breaking! It’s an HMO, so I have to go to the doctors on their plan. And, of course, none of the doctors I’ve gone to for years seem to be “on” that insurance … sigh.

How Health Insurance Is Stifling My Dreams

I’ve found myself turning down certain performing auditions because, if I got the job and had to stop teaching, I would lose my hard-earned health insurance at the gym. I feel like I am working for health insurance and stifling my dreams on the off-chance I end up with a sprained ankle or some other bizarre virus (or worse).

The only other viable option I’ve seen for getting health insurance is to marry into it. But since my love life has been less than stellar as of late, I guess it’s all up to me … or Obamacare.

Please, Mr. President. Please, Congress. Please, America.

I’m exhausted and broke from my efforts to get and pay for health insurance. I’m a hard worker. I’m not taking advantage of any system. But I don’t work in corporate America. I’m an artist and a writer. And I’m struggling.

We need a national health care plan. It’s time. Unless Mr. Right With the Awesome Medical Plan sweeps into my world (and if he’s on his way, his GPS seems to be seriously messed up), it’s just me … and I need help.

Imagine what I could accomplish creatively if I didn’t have to spend so much time just trying to stay insured?

The world could be my oyster, but right now I’m just trying to make sure I don’t step on one and need more stitches.

Maybe you can relate—and hopefully you haven’t even had as many mishaps as I have. What do you think we should do?

  • Guest

    Insurance in corporate America isn’t all you think it’s cracked up to be either!  I avoid the doctor as much as I can, which means NO preventative care (a recipe for disaster).  It drives my mom (a RN) nuts!!  But I have no other choice, and when I do go to the doctor there always ends up being hidden fees – like the $20 charge I got for a strep throat test.  I knew I didn’t have strep, but the nurse shoved it down my throat before I even got a chance to think it might cost me more money on top of the visit itself!  We absolutely need national healthcare program. 

    • Geveretpartin

      My husband and I are on Medicare and Medicaid due to disability. We’re opposed to Obamacare because we’re afraid that it will lead to rationed care for the elderly and the disabled. People with organ transplants and expensive medical conditions will die! We have no choice but to stay on government healthcare due to our expensive medical costs. Title 1619B for Social Security limits our ability to try and go back to work by requiring that we both work at the same time to keep our government medical benefits. We need Title 1619B to be updated in the Ticket-To-Work Incentives Act of 1999 to allow for either spouse to work instead of both spouses being required to work for this law to work for both of us!

  • investsf

    I can totally relate. I work
    in a corporate job that contributes to a serious case of depression (was
    actually hospitalized) and can’t leave because of the health
    insurance.  It’s like going to the scene of the crime everyday. Add all
    the mental healthcare cost with my myriad of physical healthcare costs
    (brain tumor, knee surgery, thyroid issues, high blood pressure, to list the things I remember) and costs are out of control. 

    To the outside observer, I’m a perfectly normal average American with a professional job and all the signs of success. Unfortunately just as trapped.

  • Tjsgammy

    From what I understand, Obamacare doesnt provide for insurance for the uninsured. It only FINES those who are not insured yearly($750) when they do their taxes.

    • guest

      I agree with Tjsgammy: Obamacare is not a good solution. I think the solution is to eliminate insurance companies as middle men. This way doctors will charge a reasonable rate on the visits (not $200 per 5 minutes, but something like $150-200 per hour). The rates are ridiculously high right now because the insurance companies negotiate a huge discount. Those who are uninsured suffer from the consequences and have to pay undiscounted fees or pay those high premiums on insurance itself.

    • JC

      Nope. It increases the elgibility threshold for Medicaid so families who currently make too much for Medicaid, but don’t have an affordable option (either employer-sponsored or individual market) can receive coverage through that program. For others who don’t have access to affordable employer coverage but still make too much for the new Medicaid levels, the insurance exchanges will offer sliding-scale subsidies to assist in the purchasing of private insurance.

      • huh

        But no actual numbers have been published. the insurance companies still set the rates.What good is having health insurance with a $5000 deductible. For some reason the people making these laws think $15.00 per hour can afford health coverage. They have no idea how to live on $30K per year. 

        • Crufleth

          I believe the max deductible will be $2000/year with a family max of $3000 as it is in Massachusetts

        • NG

          Try $20,000/yr and $5,000 deductible.  I’m insured, but can’t afford to get medical treatment.

  • Bren

    “Obamacare” is going to help you…in 2014.  That’s when the health insurance exchanges in each state start up, and you can buy an individual plan that’s affordable, and get help paying for it if your income is low.  Just cross your fingers the Republicans don’t figure out how to destroy it in the next two years.  

  • Erika Thomas

    I am right there with you! I’ve been uninsured for about 7 months. I work at a boutique marketing agency where we only have a few employees, I freelance write and I run a fashion blog–none of which come with benefits. The insurance that ran out was because I was still able to mooch off my dads, thank God. As a woman in my 20s, my boss says our age bracket is a nightmare for premiums, and that process has been perpetually delayed. It’s not fair, it really isn’t. I just want to pay a reasonable premium and know that if I’m hurt, I won’t have to Google how to remedy my ailments, I’d like to see a professional. The urgent care by my house charged my fiance $200 for a 5 minute appointment, it’s a totally impossible financial scheme. Hoping that once he graduates he gets a job with benefits… until then, just being careful.

    • Crufleth

      You should have one of the more reasonable premiums. Womens coverage tends to be more expensive. I would do some research and call some of the insurance companies  myself. Start with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, try Aetna and Cigna.

  • Lil

    Agreed.  I actually think that we should do away with health insurance altogether in favor of nationalized health care.  Man, I sound like a socialist.  As long as there are choices in insurance health care will be over priced and inequitable.  The rich will get adequate health care and the poor will have to choose to forgo certain types of care, especially preventative care. 

    I grew up with first rate insurance through my parents.  When I got my first job and had to go on an HMO it was a real wake up call.  Suddenly I could not go to the doctor when I was sick because I could only see my PCP and she wasn’t available.  Several hundred dollars at an urgent care clinic later my sinus infection was cured.  Fortunately I had the money.    

    I lived in England for a little while and I had a friend with a UTI.  She, a non-citizen like me, walked into a pharmacy, explained her problem and walked out 5 minutes later with medication free of charge.  She was well again in a matter of days.  It cost her nothing. 

  • deskplant

    As a young Brit, I was encouraged to see America as a land of milk and
    honey. As an adult, I wonder how Americans have survived. But then I’m
    a fierce Nationalist, for every country that is, not just mine. What
    this means is that the country through collective contributions,
    collectively takes care of its nation. Upward mobility is a sign of a
    healthy culture. It should be common and not a ‘dream’. But when a
    nation’s broad middle swathe becomes destitute from a life long cycle
    of corporate greed, and let’s face it, the medical world in America is
    a great example of corporations controlling a country, then upward
    mobility stops, as Kimberley says and as commentators have too. You
    stay tied to jobs below you to stay alive. You live in fear in case you get food poisoning. What are taxes contributing
    to if not the health and wellbeing of a nation?

    The UK is copying America, pushing people into private
    insurance, denying them support and breaking up the National Health
    Service to spend more money on fewer outcomes because they’re
    ‘outsourced’ to private companies. To change healthcare means changing broader ideas too, moving from Friendmanesque greed to collective care. Its not one chicken and one egg, healthcare interconnects with everything else. The problem is a poultry farm and all the chickens are sick.

    Strong national schemes are the lifeblood of a nation. Fractured
    schemes produce fractured nations. In particular they build financial
    inequity because nest eggs are destroyed and opportunties for general financial growth are lost. One person being a billionaire is pointless. You need the 4 million familes who’ve been repossed since 2005 to have homes. But it’s not not just Kimberley who’ll suffer financial inequality and upward mobility stunt because of her healthcare problems; her children will also suffer as they won’t be buffered by a financially secure
    parent. She won’t own her own home, she won’t have a nest egg and as she ages her problems will increase. Support Obamacare. The US is a great nation and it’s about
    time it used its extraordinary might to actually help its own people;
    the writer on the street – and not just the corporate fat cats who host
    political parties on yachts.

  • Cathswart

    I agree!

    I think the government should offer their own, low-cost plan, to compete with private companies. So many hospitals are going bankrupt because people without health insurance usually end up going to to hospitals when they get sick, and then can’t pay. And then hospitals go into receivership, and somebody (govt) has to bail them out, because we have to have hospitals. But the cost of private health insurance is stifling! I’m leaving my job (today is actually my last day, so this article was well timed) to move with my partner who got a job in another state. My biggest concern is getting some kind of coverage in case I get into some kind of expensive health situation. Otherwise I’m pretty healthy and don’t really need to see any doctors regularly. But some of the affordable plans either don’t cover accidents like that, and if they do, then they don’t cover my regular prescription medication or other things that seem important. There really should be better options for people who aren’t covered through their jobs (or if they leave or get fired from a job). There are a lot of people who don’t feel like (or can’t legally) getting married. And there should be options for us!!!

  • Jen

    I currently live in Massachusetts, where we have Romney’s version of Obamacare… unfortunately congress butchered the attempts to make healthcare affordable so its actually going to give the whole country the system we have here: You get fined on your taxes if you’re uninsured, though that’s still probably cheaper than insurance. There’s “help” if you are low income, but their definition of low income is about $20,000/year or less for a single person- try paying rent in Boston on that, much less health insurance! If you don’t qualify for the low income help, then the “affordable” and “competitive” plans you have to choose from start at $230/month if you are young, healthy, and have no pre-existing conditions. Basically, if they think you will never use it, you can pay $230/month. With that you get a $3000 deductible, and no coverage AT ALL of prescriptions, doctor visits, or even annual checkups until you spend $3000 in a year- in addition to the almost $3000 you spend on the premiums. I think the government should invest in Kaiser, and enable them to become a low cost competitor in every state instead of just a handful- I know not everyone likes being on kaiser as much as I did, but at least it is a low cost alternative that doesn’t rely on tax income- it just might help bridge the gap!

  • janet

    My husband and I are both self-employed so we have to buy our own insurance. We go through our local chamber of commerce group and it’s good insurance but the monthly cost is more than our mortgage. In order to avoid another several hundred dollar increase this year we upped our deductible. It’s just too expensive yet you have to have it in case something unforeseen happens. 

  • andrea

    my husband and i are self employed and without healthcare.  this said, we do have a local doctor who has a cash rate so we can avoid urgent care.  he’s $60/visit + labs (usually about $200) but even still $260 vs $600 (when i did go to urgent care) vs $1400 (for bronchitis when i went to the er before i learned the value of urgent care)
    i love the idea of a national healthcare – do away with the private insurance. and the people working in the private sector can still work in the govt sector.  but all i’ve read on obamacare is the penalty on your taxes if you cannot prove insurance.  i’d love to see a link to a statement where they say that there will be a low cost quality healthcare available to all.

  • Guest

    It’s not helpful in this particular situation, but I successfully negotiated for a health insurance stipend from my small nonprofit, which was my first career job out of college, and I would encourage others in a similar situation to do the same.

    As a 22 year-old with no relevant experience I was terrified to do it, but my mother encouraged me and it went really well. I was honest and told my (future) boss that that was the job I really wanted but I couldn’t support myself on the offer. If they couldn’t help me, then I would have to take a higher offer elsewhere, and perhaps I would have another opportunity with this organization in a few years?
    My boss respected my negotiation, said she hoped her daughters were smart enough to do the same when they were my age, and cleared a stipend for me with the Board that covered most of premium. It was such a great feeling!

    • Kime

      Go girl! I work as an intern this summer at a company near me. When I applied to work here, I was desperate for a job and for experience in my field. I like the company but I have no idea of the salary to expect when I apply for a regular full time job at the company. Right now I make more than minimum wage as an intern (no benefits though) but next year I hope to apply for a full time position when I graduate from college.

      I participated in a research study this year that studied the negotiating behaviors of men and women. The overall results was that women were more likely to take their first offers and even when they negotiated they asked for less than their male counterparts.

      I have taken a few courses in psychology, sociology and even commuhnications and they show how even in the workplace (SOME) women want to come off as nonconfronattional and are more considerate or selfish concious. I know that when I was asked what time I wanted to work, I pretty much said that I was available but now I wish I had been forthright and told them a different time.

       Hearing stories like yours encourage me to do better and to prepare for the negotiation process rather than face regret if I take the first offer on the table.

      • Kime

        Sorry for the errors :)

  • Asphodel

    I have a job at a large company. I have health insurance through that company for myself and my self-employed husband.  The insurance premiums, plus co-pays (FSA) for our maintenance medications cost $150/mo less than our rent.  If one of us has to go to the ER, out comes $1500 (entire deductible) from the FSA and nothing left to cover our medication co-pays for the rest of the year.  Should the other end up in the ER, another $1500 to satisfy the deductible.  And with each of four of our maintenance drugs having a co-pay more than the electricity bill, we can’t cover that.

  • Jaqouia3

    We have been struggling through unemployment, under employment, a Federal job with NO benefits…since 2007, when my husband lost his job.  We used to have excellent insurance while he was employed.  Cobra was 2/3rds of our house payment.  After Cobra, we were able to get some decent insurance for a little more than Cobra had been.  Once Obama signed his health care Obamacare into law, our costs of individual insurance have SKYROCKED.  We had to get rid of our decent insurance for higher deductables, and eventually catastrophic insurance.  Since I have many health issues, including cancer twice, type 2 diabetes, chronic vertigo, to name a few, I have had a difficult time being accepted for insurance, but I have felt that I MUST have insurance, or we would be up a crick if heaven forbid, cancer struck again.  In the meantime, the ‘affordable’ insurance I have, doesn’t cover much of anything.  Certainly not any of the specialists I need.  

    I am not in favor of a nationalized health care system.  We were much better off BEFORE Obamacare reared its ugly head.

    • Wait, what?? 

      I was with you right up until that last paragraph. If un- and underemployment are the reasons why you no longer have decent health insurance, then a nationalized system is the answer (albeit an admittedly imperfect one) to your problems.

      Also, Obamacare has not “reared its ugly head” yet – the plan is set to go into effect in 2014, but that’s only if the Supreme Court rules it constitutional. If you are experiencing problems now, Obamacare has nothing to do with them.

      • TinaB

        I handle insurance for my company, and yes Obamacare has already “reared its ugly head”.  The insurance companies are worried about what Obamacare will mean to their bottom line, so they have begun charging outrages increases on our premiums and rates.

        Bottom line, the next renewal period after Obamacare was  passed we saw a 50% increase in cost from the prior year.  We saw the same thing in our Workers Comp coverage.  That is so difficult for a small business to absorb!  It means that in a struggling economy, we had to have our employees pay more of the cost for their insurance, where it was much less before.

        • JC

          That seems like the insurance companies’ ugly heads rearing (and jumping the gun), not “Obamacare”‘s.

        • ranavain

           The insurance companies are using it as an excuse. Premiums have gone up every year for the past couple decades. How on earth do you think the insurance companies are going to LOSE money when there’s now legislation requiring that all people buy insurance, and that they MUST buy it from a private source (since there is no government option)?

          The gov is handing the insurance companies millions more customers on a silver platter. And the insurance companies are making record profits even now. They’re raising their rates because they CAN, not because they need to. It is their greed that causes premium increases, just like it was before Obamacare.

      • Jaqouia3

        Each time our health insurance increased its premium, starting with the month following the health bill signed into law, regardless of when it goes into effect, we received a letter of explanation along with our bill for increased health insurance premiums.  The letter went something like this:  Due to anticipated changes in the regulations as a result of Obama’s health care law, we find it necessary to increase premiums by ___(fill in the blank %).  Our insurance jumped from $700+ a month to over $1100 a month, which caused us (unemployed at the time), to have to find alternative insurance.  

        • Guest

          You can’t just blame Obamacare.  Five years ago, my company’s group plan started going up 30-40% each year which is why my employer stopped providing group health insurance in 2010.  Our rates were going up well before Obamacare.

        • ranavain

           As noted below, costs were going up every year before Obamacare. And if you trust your insurance company (whose CEO gets millions of dollars a year and has likely gotten raises every time your plan rates go up) to tell you why they’re increasing prices, you’re naive.

  • starsoverthemountains

     im a musician and type 1 diabetic. Im still on my parents insurance, but not for much longer. After the first 5 months of the year, I have to pay $430 every month for insulin, which keeps me alive. That, on top of monthly health insurance and diabetes supplies (test strips, needles, alcoholswabs, glucose tablets, snacks that acts as medicine for low blood sugar …). Thankfully my parents are pretty well off, but how much longer can we keep this up?
    I’m healthy other than that illness, which the cause for is unknown. I make healthier choices than the average person, because if it’s bad for a normal person, it’s much worse for ra diabetic person. What the heck will happen to me when my parents are no longer around? What the heck happens to people in the same situation but not nearly as well off financially? I dream of the day, every day, when I can make my living solely from music, but every doctor visit, trip to the pharmacy, I see that my pancreas and the corrupt system trying their absolute best to prevent that dream from happening.

    • Rayndian

      Wake up and smell reality, honey. Not everyone gets to live their dreams. In fact, most of us don’t. If you have a chronic illness like diabetes, your first priority must be getting a well-paying job that will have good health benefits. You need to get an education–not in music, but something practical like business, engineering, or computer software development–so that you can get a real job with real benefits, and then you need to save as much of your salary as you can, for when the inevitable rainy day comes, when you may need to pay for COBRA or buy your own insurance.

      You can always play music for a hobby on the weekends, but unfortunately, you have no business trying to become a professional musician. Sorry, but that’s the reality in the USA. We are a country based upon the ideal that every man (or woman) is expected to provide for themselves, and not be a burden on others. That can-do attitude is what made our country great. And sometimes, it means doing what you HAVE to do instead of what you WANT to do.

      We’ll be a better country when we return to that ideal, instead of being a bunch of weak, lazy, whining victims who expect the government to hand them everything on a silver platter, paid for with tax dollars extorted from those who actually do something productive for a living.

      • starsoverthemountains

         wow! First of all, please don’t call me honey, it’s condescending. Secondly, I am far from lazy. I have a full time job while building my career (which is also a full time job). I save as much as my salary that I can, and put away all my gig money into my savings, save for money for taxes, which I put in a different savings account. I’m not stupid, however I’m not the right person for a job such as engineering or computer software development. Not only was I “blessed” with diabetes, but also with a mostly only creative mind. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

        I may be extremely irritated to have to pay so much just to survive that others don’t, but I was just pointing out a problem. I don’t consider myself a victim, but there ARE people out there who grew up in much worse environments and who are in similar situations, who have no way of paying for that stuff. Do YOU have a chronic illness? Maybe you’d understand then!

        I thought America was built on the ‘american dream.’ well, that’s my dream, and I intend to make it happen one day. It is possible, but if the majority of people in America think of musicians as weak, lazy, whiny, hobbyists, then I just have no business being in America.

  • Welcome to life! 
    Try having 3 kids and going without health care for almost 10 years lady, and then we’ll talk about “struggle.” 

    Maybe you should keep your hands to yourself(stage fight?? Really!?) and find a job somewhere with good benefits that don’t cost so much. Oh wait, the Obama economy has killed jobs nationwide, NY is a financial cesspool, and Obamacare will kill the potentiality of employers providing good and affordable healthcare. You should just wait for government run exchanges. You’ll get free healthcare you’ll have to wait weeks for, along with other free loaders who want other people to provide them oysters.Or, you can just be thankful where you work has finally provided you decent health care, and quit whining that you can’t go be a white swan, and that someone else won’t give youhealth care she doesn’t have to earn herself like other HARD WORKING Americans who have health insurance. 

    Remember, you asked.

    • Anomalily

      I think by “stage fight” she means a fight that is choreographed on stage. Which would make a lot of sense given that she’s a broadway performer. So don’t criticize her for doing her job- it’s not like it was a bar fight.

      I think you’re being rather overly critical. Yes, a lot of people have it harder than her, but she isn’t asking for national healthcare just for her- she’s asking for everyone. 

      And job numbers have only gone up since Obama has been in office- we just had a large deficit to deal with after all the jobs that were lost before he took office.

    • Piper

      I don’t think this comment was really necessary. I have kids, work at a small business in a small town with a $6k deductible and have a child with autoimmune issues, cataracts and some uncommon eye infection that causes blindness, not to mention my own health issues. I struggle everyday with hanging on. But I also remember the single life (I may as well be now, though some help is better than none) and how difficult it was. It doesn’t get any easier whether you live the “American Nightmare” or not. I’ve toyed with whether we need a national health care plan, should move to another country that has one, should get a second or third job, if its really worth it to finish my Bachelor’s degree or not, etc. In short, all you can do is the best you can. It’s a harsh negative world with positives sparsely sprinkled around. Enjoy what you can and do whatever it takes, but don’t kill yourself in the process…its hardly possible to pay the funeral bills.

    • mantis22

       Don’t be such an a-hole Kat Wood!  Why did you have 3 kids if you can’t afford it?  I am sure your out of pocket cost on your 3 kids is cheaper than my “disaster insurance” + deductible (which I incur every year….cancer does that) and I join a collective that takes 5% of my income (I am self-employed) to get THAT insurance.  I cannot get insurance on my own as that darn cancer thing is a red/no-go flag!

      Your “struggle” is no worse that many others (and better than some of us)

    • Stephen Castellari

      I’m with you Kat. We’re asking for personal responsibility in choices.
      The “stage fight scene” could represent a high-risk job where the employer should cover damages or the employee should be aware and prepared to accept the risks.

      Maybe “white swan roles” are best left to trust-fund kids and not starving artists who can barely make ends meet. This passion and love doesn’t sound like a responsible life choice for this person at this time.

    • Bbspunk_betty

      Talk about whining, I hear yours loud and clear.  Try getting on birth control and cut down on the kids-oh yeah-the republicians are pulling that wagon, good luck having your heath care pay for bc.

    • ranavain

       Yeah, cause people who can’t get health insurance because they work 3 part-time jobs and can barely make ends meet are definitely the slum of the earth, and I CERTAINLY won’t deign to have $5 extra bucks a month taken from my paycheck in taxes to help that person have basic healthcare.

      People get cancer because they don’t work hard enough. QED.

      As opposed to the morally upright Kat Wood, who is totally cool with the possibility of leaving her three children orphaned because she went without healthcare for 10 years so she can have the moral high ground to talk about her “struggles,” because she’s obviously much harder working than the person who wrote this piece.

  • Amylynn

    My husband had to give up his thriving business and get a job that offered health insurance.  We could not afford the outrageous premiums and super high deductibles on the ONE plan that we qualified for as self-employed.  My employer has over 100 employees, yet does not offer any health insurance.  My husband works in the healthcare industry, but they seem to have horrible health insurance plans.  $800+/month for a family of four, and this is with the company paying for my husband’s premium.  Premiums + Deductibles + Co-Pays + a son with autism  = 3 times our rent amount for medical expenses each month.  Just livin’ the American Dream!

  • P_halligan

    I find myself without health insurance for the first time in 33 years.  My husband was laid off and I am disabled and unable to work – fighting for SSI.  We couldn’t afford Cobra on just his unemployment payments.  I pay to see my doctor out-of-pocket – cheaper than Cobra.

  • Simonandsasha

    I work in the corporate world and therefore I have great health insurance.  But, I didn’t get to pursue something as fulfilling or artistic as theater.  These are the choices and tradeoffs we all have to make.  I do not support a national healthcare system as I have relatives overseas that get healthcare, but not nearly as good as we do in this country.  I also do not want the government telling me or anyone else that we have to buy health insurance.  I also do not want to pay for other people’s health insurance unless they are truly disabled or children and therefore cannot work.  With all of that said I would like to know why healthcare in general is so outrageously expensive?  Are the insurance companies getting to rich?  Are we paying to much in liability suits?  Who is the real culprit?  Maybe we should be looking into where the core of the problem lies and why the whole system is so expensive. 

    • Stephen Castellari

      “why is healthcare so expensive”
      There is the hospital, the doctor, the medine, the technology, and all of the industries and staff that support healthcare.
      The price is actually a market influence by the perceived demand and value of the service. They “charge” what we think the life-giving service is worth which feeds a growing healthcare industry.
      If people could take better care of themselves (eating and exercise), then our society would be fine to use the medicines and technologies of the 1970′s for nearly no cost (like Nationalized healthcare).
      If our society demands to constantly push the boundaries for new innovation in healthcare, it will always be a premium cost that outpaces what people want to pay for healthcare.  
      Insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and doctors all are profit driven, but operate on slim profits after reinvesting everything to develop the next innovation. 

  • Guest

    One suggestion would be to let go of the Manhattan apartment and live in Queens or Brooklyn. Astoria is only about 30 minutes from the city, and since it takes 45 minutes to get ANYWHERE in New York, there’s no point in paying Manhattan prices.

    That’ll knock $1,000 bucks off your rent, more than likely.

  • This is one of the most universal issues in america and its transcends all demographics. what to do? understand an elected officials stand on the issue, their track record on healthcare and see what boards they sit on or advise. they may well be “in the pocket” of a hospital, insurance or pharma company. we can’t trust our elected to officials to do what’s right or best for us. 
    1. vota at local level
    2. make your voice heard write assemblyman, congress, senate, president
    3. organize
    4. pray you don’t get sick, need an rx, or get hit by a car

  • Samiam2025

    By the same token your Obamacare would seriously be a disaster for other insurance people who spent a working lifetime paying into a defunct systerm.  I understand your concern.  I have been on COBRA and it was $981.00 per month, because of a divorce and I lost my condo because I couldn’t pay both monthly.  I really don’t know what the answe is….I wish I did!

  • Sherri Powell

    I’m with Elise on this one! And yes, something needs to be done; but as typical and true Americans – we expect the other guy to do it for us and want to lament in our own sorrows and pity ourselves. 
    Get out people! Make a difference – I’m happy for this article and the voice that Kimberly is giving to her need to get insurance. Her struggle to be an artist, and other’s struggles to be whatever their dreams are – shouldn’t be brushed aside to “do right by insurance company expectations”. 
    Last I checked, Americans “own” the US – not corporations. Or, it could be that I’m living in a dream world.
    To re-quote Elise:
    1. vote at local level2. make your voice heard write assemblyman, congress, senate, president3. organize4. pray you don’t get sick, need an rx, or get hit by a car 

    Be the change you want to see in the world!

  • metalmaiden

     I actually DID get married for an insurance card!


    Well, we had plans to wed but we secretly went to city hall several months
    ahead of the big event and got hitched just for insurance coverage.


    You see my employer insured the employee only, not family members. My ex, who
    covered the kids health insurance, lost his job and couldn’t afford cobra. It
    was 3 times what his unemployment insurance paid him. Both my kids have asthma
    so there is no way they can go without insurance!

  • Corporate Serf

    Although I have supported ‘Obamacare” because of its incremental improvements, I actually am hoping the Supreme Court rejects it in totality so the possibility of a single payer/national healthcare can be revisited.  Working individuals, whether struggling artists, single mothers or 50somethings forced to become entrepreneurs, all need affortable coverage which is not possible when you have the /middleman/insurance companies as part of the equation.  

    • Kgal1298

      The problem is the costs of revoking it would be insane. They would have to turn over parts of the law that are good which sucks, but your right we need a single payer national healthcare coverage and it seems there is no other way, but I’m also worried if we get Romney in office that wont be his priority at all. I also think the issue here is not that it isn’t doable, but that special interests keep lobbying DC which would mean no matter what law they pass we will most likely hate certain parts of it because parts of it would have to make the lobbyists happy and they are happy when we pay more. I think what needs to be done is kick special interest to the curb, don’t let congress trade stock when they are actually elected, then go ahead and get back to what we built this country on the people and decide what they want without worrying about how big they can get their pockets. Either that or let’s take away the healthcare coverage for everyone in office and see what they do then. 

  • Guest

    I fail to understand this. My husband works in corporate America, but his firm does not offer health insurance. So he buys his own. In his late-twenties, it costs us $75 a month for a premium and he has a $5000 deductible. Well, actually, it’s $2500 deductible and then 50% of the bills until $5000 is reached. Yeah, it sucks to pay $300 for one doctor visit, but with a low premium, it’s do-able.

    • Lisawhitmore2003

      And I’d be happy to get that too.  But they won’t sell it to me.

    • Guest

      Does anyone see the problem here? $300 for a doctor visit. No wonder we can’t afford it.

  • Dustieb

    I have BCBS individual in Alabama and it is pretty fair in price. Plus, I keep it no matter what job I work. Not sure if they offer it in your state but it would be worth checking into.

    • Lisa W

      Yes, the BCBS in my state, California, is $1,332 per month for a maximum of $75,000 annual coverage.  It’s called “pre-existing condition,” even though the condition occurred over two years ago and there has been no subsequent need for treatment. 

  • nbarbier

    I have worked for the same large corporation for 12 years now. They won’t make people staff so that they don’t have to pay benefits. I’m a “perma-lancer” as they call us.  I pay out of pocket of insurance $500+ a month and just received a letter on my birthday that now that I’m 39, my monthly premium would be going up to $720 a month.  I guess at my advanced age, I could go any time. :)

  • guest

    Be very careful what you wish for with national insurance – what has the government been successful at? No, really, what? Take a trip overseas and sit in a medical facility there and watch the people wait for hours, get limited care, not enough medication, and it is all in the hands of the government.  We have 6 children, pay for our own insurance, [interesting to me how when it is your own money, you ask great questions regarding what tests will cost and are they necessary, if there is a generic prescription alternative, etc.] We have a high deductible insurance plan and a health savings account. Obamacare HAS had an impact – it has changed HSA acceptable expenses and made it more costly for our family.  I really don’t need or want the government thinking they know what is best for my family better than my husband and I. We all make choices – I definitely choose to not use government insurance, but what happens when the government takes the choices away?

    • Guest

      I would very much like to go to Canada or France and experience their health care systems–in France, doctors actually still make house calls!  And all of this for literally 1/3rd the cost per capita of the American health system.  We are getting ripped off, and our health indicators (a woman’s risk of death during child birth, likelihood a child will die before 5 years old) are ranked somewhere lower than Sri Lanka and equal to Slovenia.  I’m not saying that Obamacare will fix it, but our system is beyond broken.

      PS The government isn’t requiring anyone to enroll in government insurance; they are requiring everyone to enroll in some kind of insurance–which is critical to the success of a subsidized health insurance scheme.

      • Angelfitz

        Doctors make house calls in this country. However, because of the government’s recent cuts to Medicaid, the poorest of the poor in this country – senior citizens who receive Medicare and Medicaid – now have less access to affordable healthcare and house call doctor services. Please do your homework before you make false statements.

    • Chloesmom001

      So with your six children and the welfare or government assistance/tax cuts you get, essentially the government is paying for your healthcare…

      • anthonysmom

        Chloesmom001:  I think you should reread “guests” comment – she wrote “we have 6 children, pay for our own insurance…” – where exactly did she say her family was receiving welfare or government assistance or the government was paying for their healthcare?  She also wrote they choose to have a high deductible plan with an HSA - so it sounds to me like not only are they paying their own premiums, but they are also setting aside the money to pay for out-of-pocket costs.    I would say that this is a perfect example of a large family being responsible with their choices!

        Her final statement of “I definitely choose to not use government insurance…” is pretty clear that they are not using welfare or the government in any way, shape or form.  Therefore, your comment makes no sense.

        • ranavain

           If you have 6 kids, you get MASSIVE tax cuts and subsidies from the government. Each dependent cuts a chunk from your tax liability.

        • Cynthia

          Fascinating discussion. Without adequate health care for our neighbors we are all subject to exposure to their communicable diseases.  Without preventative healthcare we eventually take on the role of caring for the very sick and spending millions of dollars  for end of life measures and emergency room treatments.  Unfortunately our country is deeply divided, and we seem to be so angry with each other that we cannot put aside our individual views we seem unable to pull together – not for each of us individually – but for us – as a community a country and a people.  It is very sad.

          2nd part of my comment.  Why are we calling this Obamacare?  We don’t call Medicare Johnsoncare, or social security Rooseveltcare.  Is it a way to demonize an effort to meet the needs of the underinsured and uninsured?  Thousands and thousands of people would be helped by a change in our system and without some change – we will all continue to pay for medical treatments at a much higher rate per patient but with the loss of human capital we need to compete in the world.  We are cutting off our nose to spite our face.

    • ranavain

       I recently went to a medical facility where I sat for hours, despite being in the emergency room, waited for 3 hours before I was seen by anyone, saw a doctor for approximately 2 minutes, and was dismissed without them finding any indication of what was wrong.

      The only difference I see between what I experienced and what people in Canada experience is that I’m going to pay hundreds, probably thousands, for my experience (depsite having a pretty good insurance plan), whereas the Canadian people will pay next to nothing out of pocket (and less in taxes, since care there per capita costs so much less).

      Why is the American system better again?

    • Angelfitz

      Exactly right! Until you have lived in a nation with socialized medicine, you will not truly understand and appreciate the healthcare system in this country. Furthermore, it is not the healthcare industry that needs to be reformed – it is health insurance. Why is the POTUS and the government not going after health insurance companies? Why do we not hear about the billions in bonuses that health insurance CEOs receive? I worked at Travelers Insurance making over $50,000 a year as, basically, a minion. If I made that much money for my “dime a dozen” job, can you imagine what the CEO of the company makes? At least medical practitioners actually work to save lives – what do health insurance companies REALLY do?

  • guest

    It’s good that your’e aware of the necessity of being covered.  Anyone who doesn’t think they need coverage is basically stupid and naive.  I know, because that was me.  I had 2 jobs and no coverage, and then I was diagnosed with MS.  It’s not good to go through life thinking freaky things won’t happen to you, because they will.

  • C Mullin

    I am a Canadian, and to add my 2 cents I have great health care that provides all basic care and emergency service at very low personal cost. My employer and I also contribute to extended health insurance, which reduces the cost of prescriptions/physiotherapy etc. Like the author, I have been through 2 sugeries in the past few years (one of them a knee) and although I did have to wait a few months for one (non-emergency) the care I received was amazing and cost me almost nothing. I am happy to pay for a national health policy (and wait sometimes for a non-urgent treatment) if it means that everyone is taken care of.
    I know that Canada is a smaller country with a different history and different challenges than the US, but something to think about: the Canadian government spends less per person on health care than the US government does. My friend (PhD in health care policy) tried to explain this to me (it was mindboggling), it is partially due to more efficient and cheaper services in Canada (the providers also pay, and there are no profits) and perhaps also because more people receive more consistent preventative care throughout their lives.

    Regardless, I am happy to be here!

    • Angelfitz

      And Canadian oil executives receive – as a perk to their benefits package – access to U.S. healthcare!

      • Morgan

        Because American style healthcare is generally great if you’re rich. Everyone else? Not so much.

        I’m another Canadian, and while our system isn’t perfect, it’s way better than letting private insurance make a profit off healthy people while government programs pick up the slack of those who cost the system money.

        Put everyone in the same pool and it works out a lot better.

  • Jennah G

    I do not want my tax money, or any government funds at all, paying for someone else’s health insurance so they can pursue their dreams.  I had to give up my creative dreams so I could pay my dues and add to society.  Life is all about choices and she is making the choice to pursue her creative passion.  If health insurance was that important to her then she needs to decide to pursue that instead.  Why should the government have to help her so she can do whatever job she chooses?

    • Lisawhitmore2003

      It’s not necessarily a matter of pursuing dreams.  More to the point it is that more and more frequently, jobs are offered as “contracts” or “part time” in order to skirt the benefits issue.  Most people are asking for affordable health care, not free health care.  The insurance issue has become far more complicated by virture of the fact that health insurance has become a pre-tax commodity through work, but if you go to the open market, the same advantage does not apply.  Why is the United States one of the wealthiest countries in the world with one of the worst managed systems?  Special interest lobbies.  Find out what sort of health insurance plan you are buying for your congressional representatives.  If you have a problem with your tax money going to pay for someone’s dream, start there. 

    • jenn

      “I do not want my tax money, or any government funds at all, paying for
      someone else’s health insurance so they can pursue their dreams.”

      Like many other nations (England and Australia to name two similar to our own), wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a society where we could pursue our dreams and be healthy?  I too have made choices professionally that revolved around having health care coverage and it’s unfortunate that we have to make that decision. Contributing to a society doesn’t have to mean sitting behind a computer. If there was no theater, music, writers…what would you do on a Friday night? Who would create that amazing pastry you had on the way to work?  What would you read when you were on the subway? Creative avenues typically don’t come with health insurance, yet they life richer and more enjoyable for everyone. Why should the people passionate about these avenues be deprived medicine when they’re sick?

      And, just so you know, I’m typing this from my 8-7 corporate America J-O-B.

      • guest

        I used to work for a corp as well until I was laid off due to ObamaCare.  They had to gear up for it so had to lay off tons of their employees.  My Cobra has run out and so now I am paying up the wazoo for my state’s insurance since I have a pre-existing condition.  Small businesses are not hiring either because they don’t have the resources to pay all that they have to for ObamaCare.   I am still without a job and paying up the wazoo for medical insurance. I am not enjoying the activities I used to enjoy for fear of having major medical expenses in case I were to fall or have an accident.  I am taking old meds in order to not have to spend so much money on them.  Thanks Obama for ruining my life.

    • ranavain

       Do you’re advocating a world where everyone must be slaves to their corporate overlords in order to maintain the very basics of life, like food, clothing, and basic healthcare? That sounds like an AWESOME world to live in. Who needs artists anyway? What have they done for me LATELY?

    • Shannon5525

      I do not want my tax money, or any government funds at all, paying for roads so people with cars can drive to work. I walk or ride my bike everywhere so I can get around and pay my dues to society. Life is all about choices and those with cars are making the choice to drive. If getting places was that important, people could make the choice to get around without government funded roads. Why should the government have to help so drivers can go wherever they choose?

    • Jealous much, Jenna?

    • Guest

      If you get any kind of health care and think that you are not paying for other people’s health care, you are completely mistaken.  Doctors and hospitals are not allowed to turn away people who cannot afford care–which means that all paying customers are subsidizing those who can’t pay.   And since those who can’t pay typically wait until a condition is so bad that they require an ER visit, you are generally paying for the least efficient form of care possible. Insurance companies have to raise their rates to pay hospitals that have to allow free patients.  You are subsidizing the poor and uninsured regardless of how you feel about it–you are merely doing so inefficiently and with very poor outcomes.

  • Caitlin Young

    I’m really amazed at the lack of sympathy in some of the comments. Why do people get angry at the un/under-insured? Is it fear of becoming one of them? And so much hate for “Obamacare” jacking rates or ‘imposing taxes,’ when it’s the insurance companies that are screwing us over. I recently left the blissful world of good, affordable corporate insurance to become a contractor (very common situation in Silicon Valley.) I had Kaiser (HMO) insurance and expected to be able to transition to an individual plan. A little bit more expensive, but I expect that. Nope! I am 27, healthy, never had a surgery or a disease worse than the (regular) flu, no family history of ANYTHING, etc and I was denied insurance because I go see a chiropractor. What?! I don’t even see a chiro through my insurance, I just pay out of pocket. I’m not receiving care due to injury, I do it to be proactive since I sit at a desk all day. Why is that a risk factor worth denying me insurance?

    I’m working on appealing it, because once you’re denied insurance once you’re damaged goods. But besides this, I LOVE Kaiser healthcare. If you need a model for affordable, practical, excellent health care then look to Kaiser. I had regular private insurance for most of my life (Blue Cross, United, Aetna) and got services in private hospitals. I was once brought to a private ER after fainting and knocking out a tooth, covered in blood. 8 hours later they discharged me exactly the way I had arrived, still covered in blood, and reffered me to a dentist. In contrast, I showed up at a Kaiser ER recently with a non-severe hand laceration. I had a N.P. at my side escorting me back to be treated before I had finished checking in. I email with my doctor, I refill my cheap brand name prescriptions online, I can get an appointment same or next day and when I go in I can get everything (dr, labs, xrays, meds, etc) all taken care of in one place. For those who don’t know, Kaiser practices a NON-PROFIT model, and that frees them to focus on their customers.

    Sick people, poor people, even the government aren’t our enemies. Don’t let the FOR PROFIT insurance companies set the tone of our discussion so that we blame each other instead of them.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. My husband is a professional actor (Mark Linehan, AEA) and we have struggled so much with insurance questions throughout his career. Even though I now carry him on my insurance, we are experiencing many of the same issues you mentioned — deductibles that make it so expensive to get care that you forgo it instead; sacrificing our long term savings because of medical expenses; etc. — and we know many performers who pass up insurance completely. Add to that the high physical risks many performers undergo on the job, and the strain on those who make their living in the arts becomes profound. I hope a national solution comes along soon, because these problems are just overwhelming.

  • Kgal1298

    That sucks. I actually benefited from the you can be on your parents until your 26 part of Obama care, but even with those mandates there are still issues with making it affordable hence why some want to get rid of it, but if they took the good parts of that act and made it so everyone could have access to affordable coverage then it could work out, but sadly insurance companies don’t want to make it affordable. So really you have to ask is the problem the politics or the health insurance companies? I mean medicaid isn’t bad and California was able to put me onto the HCAP plan for a while, but the minute I started making any money that was gone and it sucked. It’s like your options are have a job make money to live, but have no insurance, have a job with insurance (the hard part) or be unemployed with coverage. Such a sad world we live. 

  • cwfire

    Go to You will qualify for health insurance and it’s very affordable.

    • ranavain

       Actually, whether or not she qualifies will vary by state (some states require that you have proof you were rejected for coverage due to a per-existing condition), and even if she’s eligible, pcip usually requires that you have been uninsured for 6 months (but it’s still a great resource and definitely worth looking into!)

      • cwfire

        That’s all true…good point. As an example, my sister, who could NOT get insurance for years because of pre-existing conditions (and it’s not offered through her work) was immediately covered with a great plan through PCIP at a decent price (about $300 a month). They also offer an HSA plan here in Texas…even better.

  • aembee

    It’s weird that those seeing an increase in their insurance costs after the passing of the Affordable Care Act are angry with our President — and not the greed of their insurance CEOs.

  • lisa

    jeebus this part set me off the most “I watched the money I had once thought would be a down payment on my own place someday dwindle, owing to the additional expense of health insurance”

    really? i bet there’s alot of people in the corporate world working jobs that aren’t their true passion but STILL don’t have anything in the bag for the downpayment…

  • Betsy

    I empathize. As a former dancer I’ve also had 2 knee surgeries, and I have lots of other issues (arthritis, sinuses, accident-prone, etc). I’ve struggled to get insurance coverage on my own in the past as (when I was a temp/contractor), and now that I’m a full time corp slave, I still have deductibles that are several hundred dollars and doc/dentist visits are still WAY too expensive. I’m postponing needed vaccines and dentist fillings just because I don’t have the money (and I work for one of the most successful companies in the world–what a shame). There’s something very messed up about our current system.

  • Lourdes

    I don’t know if you have looked into this but I know as an Alumni of my University I could get group health coverage through the school if I were to loose my health coverage through my job. If they offer this it would be somewhere on the alumni relations page. 

  • Kimberly- thank-you for your lovely post. I’m not sure there is a good answer for everyone, but the responses by everyone made me feel very sad that people aren’t willing to consider each other’s dreams and lives in different manners. We all are so different, healthcare needs to somehow address that. The biggest challenge I face as a SAHM/WAHM is health benefits. My husband is in law enforcement with no family coverage and yet we feel strongly enough about our decision that we work very very hard to make it by and pay for our dreams, feeling many of the heartaches you have faced. Best of luck to you! Keep your dreams :)

  • Rogers2468

    I too have had to pay the very high price of COBRA and started doing some heavy research online to compare prices and health plans. I found Assurant Health to be the best rate at less than $200 a month for self with no deductible. Not sure if they cover all states but by all means check them out. Hope it helps. 

  • Angelfitz

    I was beginning to think this may be a viable article in terms of affordable healthcare. The author is either ignorant or delusional if she thinks Obamacare will make her healthcare more affordable. If anything, a national healthcare system will increase prices and decrease the quality of medical care. Being married to someone from a socialized medicine country (Ireland) opened my eyes to just how bad other countries have it and how good Americans have it. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But I challenge the author and everyone else to question why the government does not reform health insurance – the real culprit in the healthcare game. Maybe because health insurance lobbyists too deeply line the pockets of our elected representatives?

    • GMaria

      I lived in Ireland for 20 years, only moving back within the last two. Socialized medicine is a problem because of staffing issues mostly. But it only costs anywhere between Euro 34-45 for a single person per month for health insurance (that is comparable to $42-56 per month). Regular doctor visits only cost Euro 50 and once paid, these can be mostly repaid by the Irish govt. There is a HUGE difference! I have heard stories of people getting just as sick in hospitals here as they do in Ireland, but perhaps not as often. When you are saying that healthcare is better here, realize that people may be paying on average 30% of their salary if they are  in lower wage bracket or have a large family. My cost in Ireland was negligible by comparison. And as a result, I do believe in socialized healthcare. If nothing else, we can tweek it so that it works better here than other countries. And by the way, it works pretty darn well in England!

  • Jmark1949

    As the saying goes, “There is no free lunch.”  Free to you means someone else is paying.  I wish people would using the phrase: “The government pays for it.”  The government doesn’t pay for it.  Other people have their money taken from them by force and then the government uses their money to “pay for it.”  Also, I have seen little hard data that insurance companies are gouging us.  I don’t know, but I suspect it’s the tort attorneys and the need to carry heavy malpractice insurance that makes health insurance so expensive.  My wife and I pay $1,222 a month and it still costs us $100 in deductable to see a doctor.  So what should I do?  Try to get the government to make some other poor sap pay for our insurance?

    • Maria

      Maybe you are healthy no one ask to become ill and the cost of medical care is excesive since the middlemen have to get paid before the phisician

    • Ashley H

       I Agree… My insurance is astronomical- but I don’t expect anyone but myself to pay for it. I think people are delusional when it comes to socialized healthcare.. just like socialism.. It looks great on paper, but it sucks when you run out of other people’s money to spend.. then its lower standards, worse care, and shared misery for all.

  • KeB

    Thank you- someone else mentioned pcip. Please, look into it. I am not an artist. I was a graduate student: well funded, well educated. I came into this market and nothing… ( crickets). No Cobra for graduate students. I applied for health insurance: rejected. I was covered all of my life, and I wanted to pay, but no.
    A year ago, i became extremely ill. I was uninsured and had nowhere to go so I went to Planned Parenthood. I knew they would help me. My temperature and vitals were crazy. They wanted to get an ambulence, but instead I drove my self to the ER. The most costly 4 hours of my life…
    I have pcip now. I pay my dues.

  • We Are Shameful

    I have had Crohn’s disease for 10 years. Thanks to the right medications and a great doctor, my disease is mostly in remission (meaning I haven’t had to be hospitalized in about 3 years.) But the only reason I have those medications and that doctor is because I am fortunate to have good health insurance. And the only reason I have that good health insurance is because I have a job with a big corporation…that I absolutely HATE. Some mornings I actually cry on my way to work, I hate this job so bad. I wish I could have my own business, I think I would be really good at it, and I’d love to be my own boss. But because of my condition, there is not an insurance company in the world that will touch me. I know, I tried. I had insurance people literally laugh me out of their offices. Under the new health care law, this has started to change as insurance companies can no longer turn people down due to preexisting conditions. But the rates are still prohibitively expensive – more than $1200 a month where I live. That is almost half my take-home pay! I live in mortal fear of what might happen if I lost my job and had to pay COBRA, I honestly don’t think I could make it. I have no one else to support me. My parents are elderly and barely getting by themselves, I have no living siblings, and I am not married. I was engaged at the time I was diagnosed with Crohn’s but my fiance dumped me, saying he did not want to live with a sick person. And when you have a chronic illness, especially one as unpleasant as Crohn’s, good men are not exactly beating down your door. How many people like me are out there, our dreams basically rotting on the vine? How many people who could start the next Apple or Microsoft are trapped in crappy corporate jobs because they have preexisting conditions and can’t get affordable health insurance any other way?

    I belong to a support group for women with Crohn’s and every week there is a new nighmare story about the healthcare system. There was the girl who nearly died and went bankrupt from hospital bills at 24, because when she lost her health insurance (aged out of her parents’ policy and could not get her own) her specialist refused to see her or even return her phone calls, and the emergency room where she sought care during a flare-up could not or would not give her the most effective medication. Another woman had to sell her car, give up her apartment and move back in with her parents because it was the only way she could afford COBRA after she was laid off. Another woman divorced her husband and let him take all their assets so she could qualify for Medicaid; she had had insurance through her husband’s business but lost it when the economy caused his business to fail. No COBRA when that happens. 

    We even had one woman in our group who has now left the US because of her inability to get the care she needed here. She too found herself with no health insurance and no COBRA when her company filed Chapter 7 and folded; she was also cut off from her specialists due to lack of insurance. Her boyfriend, a grad student from Finland, married her and took her back to Finland so she could get the care through their system. I still talk to her on Facebook; she misses the US, but doesn’t think she will ever return. Yes she sometimes has to wait a few weeks to see her specialist (something that is not an uncommon experience in the US, by the way) but her GP can give her the care she needs when necessary, and if she needs to seek care in another city, any doctor in Finland can pull up her records thanks to their nationwide electronic medical records system.Doctor visits and prescriptions are very affordable, and she has also found that by and large, sick people are treated with respect and dignity in Finland, rather than being regarded as a nusiance as they often are here. (Frankly, she makes it tempting to leave the US!)

    These stories don’t include the weekly tales of care delayed or denied by insurance companies, the labrynthian appeals processes and the battles that must be fought anew every time an employer changes carriers, and the extreme frustration of having to deal with $9-an-hour customer service robots who know nothing but what is written on the script in front of them, and their equally clueless, non-medically trained bosses. One woman in our group, exasperated after two hours of dealing with her insurance company’s customer “service” robot reps, blurted out “somtimes I think I would be better off dead than have to deal with you people!” To which, the robot replied “Maybe you would be.”

    And that, my friends, is the sad truth about our healthcare system. We have made something so ugly, messy, gross and complicated that many people would probably be better off dead under it. Another woman in my group, having heard the above tales, has decided that if she ever loses her health insurance coverage, she will shoot herself, because she would rather die quickly by her own hand than die the slow, painful death of the chronically ill uninsured. I’m not going to lie, I have thought about the same thing. More than once.

    I am so sick of hearing how great the US is, and what a wonderful our healthcare system we have. Yes, we can make miracles, but only for those rich or fortunate to afford them. For everyone else, it is a nightmare, and unless you have not been there, no one cares. “Obamacare” is not perfect, but it was a helluvalot better than what we had before.

    If the SCOTUS throws it out, and unfortunately I think they will, I do not believe we will see meaningful reform in my lifetime. Our healthcare system is a dark, tanlged, ugly, messy, overcomplicated, unjust, unfair and totally unmanageable mess. And the immature, stupid, self-centered, selfish and greedy American public, and our equally worthless ”leaders” of both parties, don’t have the fortitude, intellignce, compassion, wisdom, character or courage to fix it.

    Shame on you, America. Shame. Shame. Shame.


    • nldel5

      Your fortunate you even have a job So many cry as they have no home of their own and debt up the yingyang You need to be thankful, I know thats not what you want to hear. I too would love to have my own business and well hey a million dollars but doesnt mean I can get it Sorry if that sounds ruff but it IS ruff out here

  • kathayra


    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is one that is not easy to share as fear and shame seem to get the better of people as they convince themselves it won’t happen to them. I rarely leave comments, but your story is one that was a little too close to home. 

    To those that complain of not paying for another’s health insurance just a reminder that: 

    “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice
    I would argue that at this time affordable healthcare is and should be part of a civilized society. How we get there I leave to someone hopefully more wise and knowledgeable than I am. It would be misleading to think that you pay for someone else’s healthcare, that is like thinking you paid for a certain portion of a road. Instead it is that you pay into a pool of money to create a system, whether of roads to get you place or to healthcare to keep you healthy. 
    Our system is undoubtedly broken and I believe a major overhaul is needed; its stories like these that give me hope that someone will hear them and use them as fuel  to take on such a monumental task.I am a tech geek and by nature most of my jobs come with healthcare. However, I do have to pick my job based on healthcare because of hereditary auto immune diseases that just seem to keep coming. I require medication to survive so I have to make sure I can afford it with the new insurance and I have to make sure that I pick a job that is steady because I can’t afford to lose my insurance. This lead me to work for the federal government for 4 years in a job where I was miserable while Congress froze my pay, just to make sure I could keep the insurance. Finally after going to grad school and lots of looking for the right job I was able to get the job of my dreams and it turns out it actually had much better insurance. Now I have to just hope I picked a stable company. :)Wishing you the best Kimberly. Don’t give up on your dream!

  • Cmrnewyork

    I am paying over $1,000/month for health insurance/dental.  Fortunately one more year to Medicare.  My job ended at age 62, so I could collect Soc. Security and a small Fla Retirement.  What can I do?  We are both 64, diabetic, cancer survivors.  He is a consultant and no sustainable insurance.  Thank goodness he is working as a contracted person with a bi-weekly paycheck.

  • Cmrnewyork

    Folks..are we losing prospective of what this article says?  There are so many people struggling with house payments, energy bills, car payments, AND, paying for health insurance.  Whatever our choices, hard-working people are STRUGGLING!!!  There should be affordable health insurance choices.  Somewhere there is a breakdown.  Let’s focus on how to fix the breakdown. Perhaps the economy would improve if we had money to spend???? Think about it!

  • guest

    Yes Health Care in this country is ridiculous!! I’m a single white female with no kids, working 3 jobs, and still trying to pay off an emergency room visit from last year for food poisoning…..STUPID!!!!