Sunday, May 18, 2008

If you don't have your health insurance, you don't have anything


The last time I had health insurance was 2004. I've become so used to not having it that it no longer bothers me...until something hurts. Then I panic. My tonsils haven't look right for a long time but I'm pretty sure if I went to a doctor he would tell me that they need to be removed, so I deal. Two days ago I paid $210 at the dentist for a general cleaning and one cavity filled. Yesterday, after a bumpy ride on a parks department trolley bus (a beautiful old thing that was obviously not designed for comfort) I found that one of my hip muscles was hurting, most likely because I was sitting cross-legged on the trolley and tensing all my muscles every time we hit a pothole. So now I'm just praying that my yoga and stretching, along with plenty of ibuprofen, will take care of it otherwise I'll be shelling out big bucks to an orthopedic doctor who would probably tell me to stretch and take ibuprofen.

I've known for a long time that the health care in this country sucks but recently it's starting to anger me more and more. I take my cats to the vet every year for a wellness exam yet I haven't had a general physical exam for almost ten years. I rely on home remedies and advice from my mom, a registered nurse, instead of visiting a doctor. I looked into getting student health insurance only to find that the plans are only offered to students under 30. I'm 31. I'm a natural born worrier so whenever an ache or pain appears I tend to think the worst. I would love to have a general physical. I have no idea what my cholesterol levels are, what my blood pressure is, I couldn't tell you the last time I had any routine blood tests done. I'm not old but I'm not a "young 'un" anymore, it would probably do me well to have a check-up.

Now, I'm starting work at the ASPCA and in the fall I have my second internship at The Animal Medical Center in Manhattan. I'm considered a temp at the ASPCA so, even though I'm working full time, most likely there will be no health insurance offered. All this means that I will be handling scared, injured animals many of whom have been abused or neglected, or had little human contact. The probability of getting a bite or a scratch is fairly high (and believe me, a cat scratch can cause some serious infection). I haven't had rabies vaccines yet, although they are recommended in my line of work, because they cost about $500.

So I'm just sitting and waiting, hoping that whatever candidate ends up in the White House will follow through on the promises of a better health care system. We can't afford to let our country's leader spew hot air and empty promises any longer. I'd cry "Give me health care or give me death!" but I'm afraid that's a little too close to the truth.