This morning I got up and drove to the Urgent Care Clinic.
I went to the front desk. I had the almighty insurance card I'd striven so hard to get in my hand. She looked at it. "I'm sorry," the woman said. "People with this insurance have to get a referral first."
"But this is the Urgent Care Clinic, where you go when you have to. A referral for urgent care?"
She just shrugged. I was baffled. As of August 1, I'd managed to get on a low-income health insurance plan for the self-employed. I'd waited months to gain access to it.
The fact that it's likely going away the last of December due to infighting between the powers that be is disheartening, yes. But today, I still had the magic card. Right?
She pointed me to a phone on the wall. "Call them and see if they'll give you a referral," she said. "Tell them to fax it."
"Them" is the university teaching hospital I will be going to October 1, to see a doctor or intern or someone.
It will be my first appointment because I haven't had insurance for months. They'd never seen me. What were the chances?
None. That's what. They refused to help me. There would be no referral.
I went back to the desk. "What am I supposed to do?" I asked her. It was clear I wasn't turning on my heel and waltzing out immediately. She called for a nurse.
The nurse came and listened to my lungs. "You need breathing treatments," she said.
Tell me something I don't know. "Well, what am I supposed to do to get that?" I asked her.
She looked at the other woman. She looked at the floor. She was clearly on the fence. She was clearly feeling powerless. "I don't know," she finally said. "I'm sorry."
So the almighty card wasn't worth much after all. I can remember, a few weeks ago, when I learned I was only to have it till the end of the year, emailing my youngest daughter in Oklahoma City. "I knew it was too good to be true," I wrote.
Last summer when I broke my ankle on both sides and had surgery, I recall a man called me up to his desk. At that time, I still had my ex-husband's Cobra. He jotted some things down. He asked me how much of a check I could write. I wrote it for $800. I told him that was the most I could manage. He said he guessed that would have to do.
Then he said, "I need you to know that your insurance isn't good enough for an overnight stay. So as soon as you wake up, you'll be getting dressed and leaving."
I didn't think I'd heard him right. I didn't want to spend the night, certainly. Because of Abi and Charlie. But what if something went wrong?
That card didn't seem to be all that powerful either.
So, I ask you, is there any health insurance card that has power any longer? Does good affordable health care exist? Or is that a myth?
And what if you get really sick, like with cancer, and the numbers start soaring upward at an alarming rate? Does it really matter how good that card is then? Or is it only good till you hit a certain number?
Fortunately during that surgery nothing went wrong.
I use to be kind of a news junkie. I loyally watched the evening national news every single night while I did my yoga stretching. I kept up with everything that was going on in Washington. I avidly read Time or Newsweek.
But about six months ago, I stopped. I just couldn't listen anymore.
Those people sitting in their seats of power did little more than bicker.
I told myself: It's never going to stop. They don't care about people like me. They're far too insulated in their padded elected seats.
They don't know what it is to have to stand in disbelief because you're sick and refused care.
Well, I think they should have to walk in our shoes for awhile. I think they need to turn over their insurance card. I think they need to stand at a front desk and then be turned away.
I think they need to see what it's like on the other side. Our side.
Maybe they'd understand that something, something needs to be done.
I'm not a genius. I don't know what it is. But this bickering needs to stop and the real issues need to be addressed. Like right now.
And if the powers that be can't come up with some sort of plan to help the citizens of this country receive help when they're sick, then they should be unceremoniously tossed out of their seats and made to walk out. Just like I was today.
I think they need to be told that if they can't do any better, then it's time to hit the proverbial road.
I don't want to be a burden on society. I want to pay my way. I want to purchase my own health insurance. But I believe it should be commensurate with my income.
Is that so illogical? I live very frugally. I don't waste money. Is that really too much to ask?
Today, clearly, it was.