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I haven’t had health insurance in three years, which is a fact that netted me extensive media coverage.  What better way to prove to the Republicans that we need national health care than to trot out my over-educated, do-gooder self.  The problem with that is, and always has been, that even when I have access to western medicine, I rarely seek it out.  I don’t like the doctor, I don’t like explaining myself and I never really feel like I’m sick enough to need to bother a clearly busy person with my tales of (minor) woe.

But I’m determined to turn that around.  I am determined to be proactive with my new health care and get regular check ups.  I am going to develop a rapport with a doctor who will establish a file on me with a detailed medical history.  Together, we will document my health adventures so that when I eventually get cancer, we will have seen it coming.

My insurance officially kicked in February 1st, and I’ve been shockingly organized about the whole thing.

  1. I went to a meeting with the lady from the health insurance company and learned all kinds of things
  2. I asked around for personal recommendations for primary care doctors
  3. I filled out the paperwork and gave it to the HR lady in a timely manner
  4. I got an health insurance card

Except, apparently the soonest available appointment my doctor has, is not until April.  This leads me to wonder: why the hell is she accepting new patients if she can’t see those patients for four months?  I was prepared to get everything arranged, and then make an appointment for early February.  I called in early January, so I thought that would be plenty of time, but apparently that’s not the case at all.

Now I’m resentful of the fact that I’m paying for insurance I’m not using, which is why I never elected to pay for insurance when I was underemployed (also, I couldn’t afford it).  I could try to get in with another doctor, but then I’d have to change my primary care physician with my insurance company in order for them to cover it, which would take a while, and it seems like more trouble than its worth.  Also, what if this is how it is with all doctors?  A friend who has lived in several different states told me that Rhode Island is the only place she’s ever sought medical care where it takes forever to see a doctor.  She said if you need to see a doctor right away, her physician always just says “go to an urgent care center.”

I also had to frantically try to find a solution to the issue of needing to have birth control, which my doctor’s receptionist was not helpful about at all.  “The doctor won’t give you a prescription if you haven’t met with her.” she told me, and the doctor has not a moment of spare time until April, so I had to figure something else out.

People talk about health insurance like it’s the greatest thing in the world, and I’m sure, if you’re really sick, it is, but I am decidedly underwhelmed right now.  I’m trying not to let me it get me down, but I’m sure by the time my appointment rolls around my stress level will be markedly higher than before I had insurance.

I’ve also been having some back trouble recently, for which I think I might like to see a chiropractor (maybe), but despite the facts that my insurance covers 20 visits, I cannot go to a chiropractor without a referral from my super-busy doctor.  Considering the fact that I’ve been gimping around like an old lady, and have only run nine miles in the month of February (because of the pain), I’d like to get this looked at/adjusted as soon as I can.

In order to see a new doctor, I have to change my primary health physician.  I have to find a doctor that accepts my HMO, notify my HMO of the change, make an appointment and then wait for a card to arrive in the mail.  The whole situation seems remarkably ham-fisted.

Also, I got my dental insurance card in the mail yesterday, and they spelled my last name wrong. *sigh*

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.