These days I have pretty good insurance, but not everyone does. I have very personal experience with that, too:
In 2001 I was uninsured, going to school full time and working multiple part-time jobs (I think it was two jobs right then, maybe three), and struggling to pay the medical bills I had incurred from two emergency room visits for extreme abdominal pain. (I had also recently been fired from one of my part-time jobs for calling in sick too often with what I didn't yet know were gall bladder attacks.) That summer another doctor diagnosed the trouble as a misbehaving gall bladder and recommended having it removed. There is no way I'd have been able to have that surgery and be the relatively pain-free person I am today if I hadn't known my friend Mike, who worked for the county and told me about a state program that provided certain types of medical assistance to those who could meet the eligibility requirements. I did meet the requirements (though the process of proving I met the requirements was somewhat nerve-wracking: my student financial aid would have put me over the income limit, but my tuition was counted against that and brought me back under the limit). Because the state was paying, the surgery had to be performed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, two and a half hours away by car. I could have had transportation provided by the state, but I was too nervous to ask for it, so my then-mother-in-law drove me to the hospital and my then-husband picked me up the next day after the surgery, even though we were separated and on the verge of divorce by that time.
And yes, for me things worked out acceptably in the long run: I did get the surgery I needed (though I was still paying off those previous medical bills for some time afterward). But not everybody lives in a state with a program like that, not everybody hears about it if they do (I only heard about Iowa's program because Mike knew), and the program that helped me with the surgery had limitations on what kinds of help were available.
Our health care system needs reform to provide affordable care for all. If you agree with me, will you please contact your senators and representatives too?
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