I am an uninsured American. Obviously this is not all I am, and it’s certainly not how I introduce myself at parties, but it’s a fact, and I deal with it as best I can. I got an email from Jewish Friend the other day, subject line Talk to a reporter from the Wall Street Journal? Naturally, I was a bit intrigued.
Jewish Friend is rather well-connected with the group Young Invincibles, despite the fact that she has health insurance through her job, and as I understand it, once she told this reporter about her uninsured friend (me) with the heart condition and running injuries, the reporter was falling all over herself to get my story. So I gave her a call.
In the past, whenever I’ve been interviewed by anyone, I come off sounding like a total moron. Despite my five years in television, I have not mastered the art of the soundbite. When I was in high school I was interviewed by a reporter from the Winnipeg Free Press while at a Rolling Stones concert–because I was one of about ten people in attendance who was younger than 45. The reporter asked me why I liked the Stones, and why I thought they had remained so popular all these years. I did not have an answer for her, instead stammering out something about consistency and showmanship. Honestly, at that point, I didn’t even really know if I liked the Stones or not, I was a girl living in rural North Dakota for whom going to concerts was the only real thing I had to look forward to. I went to the concert to see if I did like them. Had she interviewed me at the end of the show, I would have had a lot more to say. Had I been savvier, I would have just made something up.
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal reporter really expected me, the overeducated, underinsured gal that I am to have a lot to say on the topic, and turns out, I really don’t. I’d like insurance, I think that would be handy to have, but I can’t afford it, nor do I have an employer who will provide it for me. Rather than sit at home agonizing about what would happen if I got hit by a car, I prefer not to think about it. I’m keeping myself healthy, mentally and physically, by not dwelling, and that doesn’t make much of a story.
She inquired about my heart condition, and I told her that though I’ve been diagnosed, it’s never caused me any discomfort or worry–dead end. She asked about my running injury, and I told her that I diagnosed myself on the internet and followed those prescribed treatments, then I happened to meet a physical therapist while on minibreak in the Virgin Island.
“You happened to meet a physical therapist while on minibreak?” she asked me skeptically.
Naturally, it was only after I got off the phone with her that I thought I should possibly explain how I can afford to go to the Virgin Islands when I kept insisting I can’t afford insurance, but it was too late.
I told her about my recent dental saga mentioning the total cost, and then told her that I had had to cash in a life insurance policy to pay for it all. Never once did it occur to me to explain why I have more than one life insurance policy and no health insurance.
Basically, the problem is that I downplay things and am optimistic almost to the point of retardation. Instead of outrage at my job situation, I’m just glad I have a job in my field. Instead of outrage at my insurance situation, I’m glad I can pay rent and do not have a debilitating condition that requires regular medical treatment. Instead of poring over every article about health care reform and shaking my fist at Republican foot-draggers, I’m just waiting for it to work itself out, because it has to.
It’s not much of a story.