So here we are, open enrollment ends tomorrow. Healthcare.

I didn’t have healthcare for a long time, before the ACA it was astronomically expensive. It was a perk I got to enjoy when I could get hired by a company, even then it was when someone already wanted me — Other than my first food services job I’ve only ever gotten salary jobs because someone else at the company already wanted me. I do well in companies, but badly at application processes.

My healthcare has been $280/mo this year. I missed some payments as the pandemic started up, which are currently on a monthly deferred payment [through a system I cannot figure out how to pay to without physically mailing account numbers]. The last two have also been missed and may or may not preclude me from even signing up.

But that’s not real important, because I cannot figure out how to afford it this year anyhow, even with the lower amount I should owe because I make almost nothing. This is where it gets hard — did I fail? Did the healthcare fail? I’ve been in only a couple times this year — I’m reasonably healthy, and where I’m definitely not healthy it’s the same things I’ve had for three decades [since my teens] and the doctors haven’t cared to do anything about it yet, so I fail to see where they’d treat me any different now — I bring them up every 2-3 years to see if there’s a change in response, and I did it all last year.

In 2018, it cost me $5,000 for that year to maintain health insurance. I went in four times, both each time gaining a positive minor fix for a moderate issue at a total cost just around $350. In 2019, after having seen most of my global business dissipate, it cost me about $3,500 for 2 health visits ($200 out of pocket). In 2020, it’s been $3400 for the year, of which I’ve managed ~$1800 and 1 health and 1 vision visit. Also, I didn’t make $1800 this year, so it’s coming out of other paychecks.

Because I worked from home, I worked to add support for the household and family.
Now, I support my household and family and manage a business choked by pandemic and politics till it barely covers expenses.

I am sad. I am wracked with sharp pain that wants to manifest as anger and depression and sorrow every time I have to figure out how to pay bills, every time I try to figure out how to earn more income or replace another cost with personal labor. And then it drills deeper, and now that pain boils up my emotions when I feel sicker or a new pain shows up — will it matter to know what’s happening if I couldn’t afford to do anything with it anyhow?

I’m also ok — this isn’t exactly new. ACA let you scale the costs down just enough that you could choose to abandon having spare money for the dubious comfort of healthcare at a lot more income points. As a result, there are some points at which it’s better, but there are plenty for whom it only moved from ‘never going to happen’ to ‘well, I do have just about that much’.

As a contract job worker and I have found healthcare to be really hard to manage, and I find myself frequently torn between being thankful to have access, and utterly disappointed that it only helps WHEN I have money.

So today I get to decide how valuable my life is when compared to others in my family, and try to guess how likely something horrible will happen to me this year vs forcing hardship upon others who have to have less to keep the health insurance/gamble money flowing. And be clear — if something bad happens, the debt for hospital care is absolutely crushing and will last for the rest of my family’s natural life.

I know I’m not alone, and I feel quite strongly that this is not how a functioning system should work.
And if it’s happened to you? You are not alone either.

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