I’ve had this odd pain in my right shoulder for about two, two-and-a-half weeks now. I don’t know what it is; whether I slept on it funny or something. It’s a different kind of pain. When I sit up it sits with me, heavy on my chest which makes me worry it could be heart related. My father’s side of the family has a strong history of strokes and heart attacks and my blood pressure has measured high the last couple of times I was in a doctor’s office and I kind of suspect that I may experienced transient ischemic attacks in the past like my dad has and that worries me, especially after seeing my great-aunt’s decline under the terrible weight of Alzheimer’s disease. I worry too that it may be lung cancer, like that which killed my mother and grandmother or breast cancer like my coworker Beth has. Her insurance, through Indiana's "affordable" high-risk exchange, runs her one thousand dollars a month, leaving her about $400 a month to cover everything else.
If it is something serious I hope it’s the heart and it’ll be quick. The pain is in my right shoulder but I’ve read that symptoms of heart disease in women sometime presents that way. I do have a pain in my right arm but at the elbow; a very painful fare-up of tennis elbow which makes it very painful to attempt a whole range of motions. I took a couple of three bad falls a few years back so I worry the tennis elbow may actually be floating bone chips. I also hope the falls were just falls and not symptoms of something deeper, like MS.
We have had health insurance for about two out of the last ten years. Currently we’ve been without health insurance for about two years. At my husband’s last job there was a waiting period before health insurance took effect and after it did take effect he was too busy with work to take off to see a doctor. When that job ended he tried to make an appointment with a dermatologist before his insurance ran out to have a suspicious mole that had changed colors investigated but he couldn’t find anyone who would see him.
His status on his new job is temporary although a request has been made with the home office to make him a permanent employee but we don’t know when that will happen or what the terms of the health insurance policy will be so I still worry about the mole which has grown and turned from the color of caramels to an angry black, especially with the history of weird cancers running rampant through my spouse’s family.
My job, which I’ve been full-time at for well over a decade, doesn’t offer any sort of health insurance. They do give their employees a 125 cafeteria plan that comes with a Visa card preloaded with a set amount of money. For full time employees that’s $1608.00 a year with part-time employees getting less money. This year I’m going to get new eyeglasses and in years past this has paid for root canals and allergy specialists when my work was trying to kill me so it is a handy thing to have. Of course it was much handier before Congress stepped in and ruined it under the Affordable Health Care Act so that we have to have a prescription, and incur the expense of an unnecessary doctor’s visit, in order to buy over-the-counter drugs with the card.
I kind of hope the Supreme Court does rule that the individual health care mandate unconstitutional because that way, with that door closed, the only way forward would be a universal system supported, perhaps, by sin taxes on fast food and soda pop. I think the people who support the individual mandate really don’t understand the concept of having no money as they are the same people who set the official thresholds for poverty so ridiculously low.
Right now my spouse and I seem to be making a good income but it’s something of a duck’s life, it looks good on the surface until you realize how furiously we are paddling beneath the surface. Two long stretches of unemployment, coupled with a crushing burden of student loan debt, has us furiously playing catch-up and even when we think we’ve caught up Beneficial, whose original loan amount has been paid off twice over and is still at the same original amount, pulls another $200.00 charge out of its ass and starts directing their rudest, most persistent employees to call us at home, every day, several times a day. We struggle to get our finances in line to made needed repairs to the house. Not cosmetic things but real safety and habitability issues. Then there are concerns about getting older and having enough to live on and pay our taxes beyond social security and the small pensions we will draw and the need to squirrel away money so we won’t come to the shame of leaving our loved one’s body at the morgue because we can’t afford to have them cremated even.
To think that we could have access to a physician and not have to worry that the cost would bankrupt us and burden our surviving spouse with such impossible debt that suttee begins to look like an attractive option leaves one feeling like a destitute orphan gazing into the Christmas window of FAO Schwarz. Not only would universal health care be good for individual citizens, the “general welfare” spoken about in the Constitution, it would be good for the economy in not only decoupling access to health care from employment but it would be good for the economy as it would free businesses from the staggering expense of health care while giving the Government immense bargaining power to contain costs.
Until the, I will continue taking two Aleve every morning and gobble aspirin like candy every time a hand goes numb while updating our end-of-care directives to make sure costs are kept at a minimum as we plot alternate escape routes in case things take a turn for the very worst.