There has to be a better way.
My bottom back tooth is currently throbbing with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.
It’s my own fault, I know that. After I had a root canal on this particular tooth a year ago, the dentist told me I needed to have a crown put on it. I nodded my head yes at him since my swollen mouth kept me from speaking, but even then I knew it was a lie. There was no way I could get a crown put on because it was WAY out of my price range. I didn’t have an extra thousand dollars lying around. I’d have to leave the tooth exposed and take my chances, knowing it would come back to figuratively bite me down the road.
I haven’t had medical insurance for years, although I recently found a low-cost primary doctor in my city. He’s good if I have a cold or something benign, but if I ever got really sick and needed a specialist I’d be out of luck. Before this doctor, I used the emergency room as my doctor’s office. It’s about as horrible as it sounds. I’d wait until I was screaming in pain or super dehydrated from the flu and on my last legs, and then I’d go to the ER expecting them to fix it. At best, the emergency doctors would fix the immediate issue, but it’s the same as putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Whatever caused the underlying problem didn’t go away. It simply waited for next time.
As somebody who suffers from bipolar disorder, I know that taking my medication is crucial. If I don’t take it, it impairs my ability to function. At its worst, not having medication leads to suicidal thoughts. Sometimes I’ve had to choose between food and medication, and neither one is a sustainable choice. Thankfully, I haven’t missed my dose in a while but in the past, I’d try to stretch it as long as I could so I didn’t have to pay for a new bottle. It made my mood unstable and even caused vomiting and tremors from the withdrawal. I’d just try to hang on between paychecks and pray I wouldn’t lose my mind.
Health care is a crisis in this country. People die of bad insurance or no insurance every day. I once knew a young woman in her 20s who died of cancer because she couldn’t afford treatment. This happened in America and it’s shameful. We are the richest country in the world, but the top 20% of Americans own 86% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of Americans own 14%. The divide between the classes grows greater every day. People get sick and it’s their station in life that decides whether or not they receive treatment.
Earlier today, a friend of mine posted a picture on her Facebook of a homeless man in San Francisco defecating in the street. She mentioned that the least he could do was go into an alley and do that. I can only guess she wanted everyone to be as grossed out as she was, but none of us knew this man’s story. He might have schizophrenia or a similar mental illness. He might be in pain or physically ill. He should at least have a place where he can go to the bathroom in peace.
Poverty robs people of their dignity. It breaks my heart every day. The idea that somebody’s suffering should be a Facebook meme is everything that’s wrong in our country.
Maybe my friend thought this guy was being rude by releasing his bowels, but she didn’t know his story and shouldn’t have speculated. Too many of us do that when it comes to poor people. We tell people on food stamps they shouldn’t be buying junk food all the time as if it’s any of our business. “That’s my taxpayer money,” some people complain. They believe they should have control over every aspect of how THEIR money gets spent without a thought to another man’s struggle, and I truly believe that needs to stop along with the judgment. Just because they have the ability to do something doesn’t mean everyone has the same advantages, but the complainers are the first people to throw away other people’s shoes rather than trying to walk in them.
It would be nice to have medical insurance. I wish everybody did. Unfortunately, people like me are trying to pay their rent and eat and put gas in their cars. I make too much for Medicaid and not enough to start a health care plan. There’s simply nothing left over at the end of the month. Having medical care should not be a luxury.
I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that, unless something drastically changes, my lifespan will likely be shorter than average. I have a few other health issues that are being ignored, but I have to hope they don’t turn into something worse. If they do, there isn’t much I can do about it.
We have a broken health care system in our country. I can’t imagine what it would be like in America if everyone could go to the doctor anytime it was necessary. Other countries are able to take the huge burden of medical care off their citizens, so I don’t know why we can’t do the same.
I don’t know everything about how politics works, but I know that everybody deserves to be healthy and live happy and long lives without being stigmatized for being poor or dying because they don’t have medical insurance. All people are proud no matter how much money they have, and they have every right to be.
Until we fix this problem in America, our land is truly not free.
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