I have heard a lot of noise about Obamacare this and Satancare that and I do have some opinions on the subject, although they are largely irrelevant. Let me just say, though, that I think there may be changes afoot and it’s about time.
If you are super political and/or super conservative, you will not like what I’m about to say, but I am not mad about Obamacare and here’s why:
I have spent most of my adult life without healthcare benefits and, therefore, without healthcare. When I left corporate America, I did not realize how much losing healthcare benefits would mean in my life. I was in my 20s and pretty healthy, overall. Any health blips that had occurred, were isolated incidents and didn’t seem to mean that much. I struggled with my weight and I knew that I had PCOS, but all doctors had ever said about any of it was “lose weight” and I really had to insist to get the PCOS diagnosis, but got no real information about it afterwards.
Meanwhile, I had a life to lead.
I went to work for myself around that time and my boyfriend at the time put me on his benefits. After we broke up, he left me on there for a few months, but eventually he got too nervous and I couldn’t blame him, so I got dropped. That was 10 years ago. When my benefits were dropped, so were almost all attempts to seek medical attention for anything other than acute cold symptoms and an STD check or two.
As a self-employed person in a competitive industry, I was busy and broke pretty much all of the time. During the times when I was not quite broke, I usually made myself broke trying to keep my wardrobe or car or home from completely falling apart. Please do not get the idea that I buy a lot of clothes or anything, but I’m fat and fat people have limited options for shopping (much more so 10 years ago, even) so we buy what fits and those things are generally not on sale. I, for one, wore my clothes until they fell apart – the same 3 outfits day after day – always planning my outfits according to who saw me wear it last so that people didn’t know I had to wear the same damn thing all the time. I had to have some nice clothes for work, nice shoes, a decent bag, and when you add that shit up, you can spend a few hundred a year. Layer on a few hundred in car repairs and one big trip to the grocery store or Target and one can be broke again in mere minutes. Going to the doctor never seemed like a good use for my resources, because it was expensive and not all that helpful and there was nothing pressing and if I spent my money trying to get ahead, perhaps I actually would and I could go to the doctor then.
Then never came.
I may not be describing it properly, but the bottom line is that there was never enough money for a doctor, health care costs being what they are, because a doctor means lab work or sonograms or some other testing that I couldn’t afford. And it meant doctors that just wanted to dismiss me as lazy or disgusting or not someone who actually had health problems so much as horrible beasts who shouldn’t inflict their fat upon hapless Doctors who were just trying to make a living on six figures a year and drive Mercedes that they don’t even use for work, but just to have a nice commute.
I could go into more details, but I am hoping that I do not have to. I am hoping that anyone who reads this will naturally be able to intuit that life is hard and expensive and challenging and that I, a reasonably intelligent and educated person, did the best I could with the resources that I had.
And before anyone goes lambasting me for choosing the risks of self-employment over a nice, secure, benefit-included job in the corporate sector… you should know that my choices in that venue were limited, as well. The job I had was unbearable and in the five years that I spent in it, another individual who shall remain nameless and unlabeled, got themselves arrested using my name and ID numbers. Multiple times. And rendered me largely unemployable. You doubt me? You should not.
In that time frame, the world switched to online-self-directed background checks, so any bozo with the “hiring manager” in their job description could run your background, but not one of the hiring managers working in the private sector knows how to read one. When searching my name, they discover a very long arrest history with lots of drug-related charges, they (100% of the time) failed to see the part where it says that my name was used as an alias by this Other Person. And only 1 in 100 of these hiring managers believed me, even after I produced letters from people with the State and the GBI and whatnot explaining the situation. Either they did not believe me or they chose not to take the risk, but either way, I was screwed to the wall by the actions of another person.
And before you go poking at me with things like “why don’t you get your record cleared?”, let me just tell you that ten years ago it would have cost me $10,000 PER CHARGE for the attorney alone and only might have been successful. One attorney intimated that the chances of successfully expunging my record were less than 10%. Even if I had the money, which I most certainly did not, I did not have the time or the spirit for a battle that was so easily lost.
Fortunately for me, the state DOES know how to read someone’s criminal history so I had no trouble getting licensed in my state for my current profession. Not an ounce of trouble. I didn’t even have to produce my official letters and such.
Self-employment, it turns out, is great in a lot of ways and I do not in any way regret my decision to leave a job I HATED for a job that I LIKE, even at the cost of benefits.
Why not purchase benefits for myself in the interim, you ask? I will tell you. I was unable to do so because I was fat. For 10 years, I was UNINSURABLE. Health insurance companies do not like fat people. I had no other health problems, mind you. No blood pressure issues. No diabetes. No nothing, besides the PCOS and the fat. The fat, of course, due at least partially (likely, LARGELY) to the PCOS. A health problem made me fat and fat made me uninsurable. How very American.
Now with Obamacare, they cannot deny me insurance. I am married and have insurance through my husband anyway, but even that has created major challenges in our lives.
See, I got married about 5 years ago. That’s awesome and all – really great! But shortly after we got together, the economy tanked. He got laid off. I took a full time job as a temp at a construction company (no background check until you are hired permanently) to get us through, because commission-only pay is FAR too sketchy to support 2 people, 2 dogs and 2 cats. He got a crappy, lower-paying job eventually, then I got laid off (no construction in a down real estate market). I got another temp job at an environmental company. The store where he worked closed. He got interim work for less than minimum wage. I got laid off – apparently no one cares about the environment when there’s a recession at hand. He got a retail sales job for $12/hour. No benefits. I got a job for a really terrible property management company. Total slums working for scumbags and no benefits (also no background check, thank you very much). His job was terrible. My job was terrible. I stuck with it for 10 months, but the terrible property management company went belly up (no surprise) and I said, well, jobby-jobs are working out for me, I’ll take my chances with self-employment again where I might be broke, but at least I won’t get laid off.
Around and around we go. I’ve been back in self-employment for 3 years and I make a living, but I’m far from rich. My husband and been through a few jobs and is finally in one he can stand with decent hours and benefits, but of course, low pay. If my father in law didn’t help us out sometimes, we’d be screwed.
So I have benefits, but I got them right about the time Obamacare started rolling out it’s “Sign Up Now” website, so I could have had benefits anyway.
All those months and years of my husband looking for work, though, his options were limited to “jobs with benefits” otherwise neither of us would have any healthcare because we can’t pay for it and in this country, you are better off dead than owing money to doctors. For the record, jobs that provide benefits pay less, so it’s a trade off, either way.
Sigh. It’s depressing to think about, so I’m going to leave this here for now and come back another time.