The last few weeks, I have been engaged (off and on) in an unpleasant activity. Perhaps it could even be considered hair-raising. At the very least, it has been enlightening.
I have been paying medical bills.
Admittedly, it's been an interesting spring. At the end of March, I had a bout of severe flu that sent me to the emergency room in an ambulance to get intravenous fluids. Then, later in spring, I fell down in a parking lot (not unlike our esteemed Secretary of State, I'm sure) and broke my arm. I managed to get by with a visit to Urgent Care and four X-rays this time.
And I finally got a couple of new pairs of glasses (two, because I'm always misplacing one of them.) They are progressive lenses, which of course, makes them more expensive.
It hasn't been fun paying the bills for all these things. I'll tell you one thing: I'm going to think long and hard before I go anywhere in an ambulance again. And while I haven't been happy about the amounts that I pay out, when I look at the original bills -- well, that's the enlightening part.
Now I have good insurance. It covers (except deductible) almost everything, including certain mental health coverages I might need. And it's not cheap. I know what our church pays for us to be able to have this coverage.
I also might note: these have been minor illnesses. My arm needed no cast, and I spent no overnight time in the hospital when I had the flu. These aren't the catastrophic diseases and accidents some people have.
So while I am paying and looking at bills and cringing a little, I'm also thinking: what would it be like if I didn't have insurance? How would I feel if I was getting these bills and I didn't have insurance or didn't have work, or had uncertain work? Wouldn't it affect so many aspects of my life?
I realize that the issues surrounding health care are complicated ones; when we had a health care forum at my congregation a couple of weeks ago, a couple of nurses brought up the great point that besides money and insurance and good doctors, one thing that people need (and many don't get) is education: education about their bodies, about nutrition, about health.
Still, if I was getting bills and I had to write out these checks, and I didn't know how to pay them, I think I'd feel a lot less healthy.