Thursday, September 17, 2009

Adventures in Unemployment: Debatable Health Care

It's funny how a debate can seem a whole lot less debatable when you are living it. As wonks, politicians and talking heads all blather on about who in this country deserves to have health care, I am living the problem. For the first time in my life, at the age of 33, I have no coverage. I got a full time job quite literally the day after college graduation and with it came the much talked about benefits that were stressed as all important by parents and college advisers. Since then, Inky and I have always been covered, and thanks to the fact that I have always seemed to work for very solid employers, we've been covered well.

Obviously that all changed for us when I got laid off a few months ago. Sure, we were offered COBRA, but I still don't understand how that can be considered a real option for anyone who is out of work. The coverage for Inky and I would have been about half my monthly UC benefit, and that's not a good deal in any economy. So, until I get my next gig Inky and I are uninsured. I don't pretend that we are in a worse situation than the millions of people in this country who have never had insurance and may never have it depending on the outcome of the fight in Washington. I still don't know how we can call ourselves a Christian nation when people die of easily curable disease everyday, but that's neither here nor there.

I've never been a person who goes to the doctor all that much, but I find myself in a bit of a bind since I've been uncovered. Previously when I was confronted with an ailment I may have thought about going to see my doctor, but usually I toughed it out. I didn't dwell on much, and I fought my hypochondriac tendencies while always knowing that if shit got real I could avail myself of treatment. Now that seeing a medical professional is off the table, I find myself obsessing about little ailments and making mountains out of molehills. Or, at least, saliva.

It seams I have been stricken with Sialorrhea, or excess saliva. It started last week when I noticed that I was swallowing an awful lot as I was trying to fall asleep. I was coming off a pretty nasty cold and I chalked it up to a remnant of that. But, it persisted for a few days after that to the point where I was keeping myself up thinking about it. I looked around on the web and found that it really isn't anything to worry about, but, that didn't stop me. There's something comforting about hearing that from a person who spent 7 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their job that goes lacking when you read it on Mayo Clinic On-Line.

What's worse than my hypochondria is that I find myself avoiding things that may injure me no matter how remote the possibility. With all my free time I would really love to be out hiking all the time, but I'm worried about the one in a million chance of falling and breaking my leg, mostly because it's already happened to Inky. Her broken leg cost us less than $100 out of pocket thanks to my health insurance, but if it happened now we'd be on the hook for thousands upon thousands.

So you'll forgive me if I happen to be one of those people who thinks that every single American should have full health coverage. I've been to the countries that have "socialized" medicine and I have never heard a bad thing about it. I think it is deplorable that the richest nation in the history of mankind still lets people wither away and die because they aren't covered. I felt this way for all those years after college when I had a good job and fantastic coverage, maybe because I can empathize with people even if I haven't been through what they are going through. But, now I'm living it, and it makes me so mad I could spit. Lucky for me, I have a ton of extra saliva.

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