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American Choices

By       Message Rebecca Anon     Permalink
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I am as much a typical American as you can get (for the west coast, anyhow). I don't hear anyone speaking up for me in the Healthcare Wars, so I finally decided to do it for myself. I'm a modest 26 year old newlywed female, trying to forge ahead in my American life, choosing teaching as a noble way to make a living while contributing to society. (Oh yeah, I actually believe in doing my part and giving back. Working hard even.) For someone like me, coming from a middle class background, finishing my own college education, married to a brilliant and ambitious man, I should never have to worry about my health care. That's for losers - people who don't work hard enough and want a hand out. Well let me tell you, there are cracks, no make that, canyons in this view, and boy is there some falling going on.

I was diagnosed a type I diabetic at age 2. It wasn't my habits, my mother's choices, or anyone's fault. It just is, and I, a normal, otherwise fit and healthy American person, am stuck with it. My father, a small business owner, paid about $25,000 a year for his private insurance for a family of three with a sick kid (not including the prescriptions), and it's only gone up for him since I got my own fam. But he can handle it. He's a tax attorney. Not everyone can be an attorney. But my husband had success on his mind as well. He worked his way up the ranks as a story editor and then an executive for a big movie studio. He was on his way and taking me on his insurance plan was no problem. We rolled merrily along. Then, the semester before finishing my credential and getting my own care plan, the ground split open.

My husband lost his job. He was brilliant, but contracts were cut in half, top down stuff, not his fault and oh so sorry, luck of the draw. Bye bye $25 co pay. Well, I thought, I have one semester to go; I can wing it paying for the student health insurance at Cal State Northridge. I'll suffer a little, pay out the nose, but I'll be o.k. Although the $500 per year allowance for prescriptions under the student plan wouldn't even cover one month of my diabetic supplies, I had savings. Then three weeks before my accelerated summer semester for exemplary students started, I got an e-mail. Program cut due to budget cuts, no dice till September. Canyon. Well, I petitioned, wrote letters, asked for independent work study. No. Sorry. I mean, did they have any idea what this was doing to my family? I'd have to stay on my student plan until winter to finish my credential. And after that, I'd be a credentialed teacher just in time for spring when no one's hiring and I'm ineligible for the student center savings buster plan.

So here I am, middle class, college educated, taking all the part-time work I can get, craving to get out there and do my part and I am reduced. I had to bow my head and walk into my doctor's offices (without appointments because I couldn't afford them) and had to ask, yes, outright ask for samples of my medication, because I just can't afford them. I am asking for a handout. Me? Asking for something I should be able to pay for if given any reasonable option. I cut back on my meds here and there where I can, sacrificing a little kidney function down the road, but apparently that's the price right now. If there is no reasonable option for reasonable people, then this is no land of the free. Meanwhile my husband spends every day all day on the job hunt, resume after resume, interview after interview, trying to reclaim his dignity as the provider of his family. Trying to provide me with healthcare. Our Cal-Cobra which we just managed to get going through hours of phone calls and faxes in August, with the new discount is almost $600 a month (not including prescriptions) for a student and a man on unemployment. Yeah, it's been fun. A public health care option comes down to this: MORE CHOICE. More choice means MORE FREEDOM, and more freedom is MORE AMERICAN.

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Teacher, Biological Science, AZ

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American Choices