I never thought of myself as a “sick kid.”
Yes, my allergies have always been terrible, even for Oklahoma, and yes, I was excused from some things in gym because I have exercise-induced asthma. And yes, (partially) because of these two things, I suffered from semiannual upper respiratory infections. Yes, I was hospitalized as a baby for dehydration issues and am partially deaf in both ears from ear-infection problems, and yes, I skipped out on part of my senior year for some still-inexplicable kidney problems.
I just thought these were problems everyone faced; I wasn’t a “sick kid.”
I first realized that I actually was a sick kid when a friend from college and I were discussing our health. My friend suffers from Krohn’s disease and so familiarized himself early on with having to make up semesters when an episode hit. I was also having a kidney episode around the same time, so we were discussing the various anti-nausea drugs and having to put our lives on hold for the wellness of our bodies. He turned to me and declared the thing that I’d never considered before.
“Rachel, you’re a sick kid!”
I was stunned at first. I rebelled. He just laughed at me.
“No, you’re definitely a sick kid.”
It’s something I’ve come to accept in the seven years hence.
Thus, as a sick, broke, indebted, young female adult, I beg of you: PLEASE DON’T STEAL MY FUCKING INSURANCE FROM ME.
While a Republican-controlled House and Senate inch closer and closer to repealing/defunding/neutering their hated “Obamacare,” I find myself needing it more and more. I started actually treating my allergies and asthma almost two years ago in the hopes of boosting my overall health. This means taking immunotherapy shots once or twice a week for anywhere from three to five years. At their current rate, that’s a little bit more than $3,000 per year so that I can live a life on less than a double dose of Zyrtec and two Benadryl a day. (I mentioned that my allergies are pretty bad, yes?) This extra $3,000 doesn’t include any of my prescriptions that I also take for allergies/asthma/not having babies.
I am also one of your friendly, neighborhood bartenders, which means I have no union, few workers’ rights groups and absolutely no benefits. One expansion of health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to guarantee all full-time workers health insurance options through their jobs. This includes everyone from the lowly McDonald’s worker to the other hourly “dregs” of society, myself included. However, this is the first time I’ve worked for a company considered big enough to offer its employees health insurance, even under the ACA, and I am just shy of my year to qualify. All this means that if the ACA is repealed, I will likely lose my health insurance.
And that possibility terrifies me.
Sometimes it really feels as if the world is against me. This feeling gets amplified when Gov. Mary Fallin and our state legislative branch rejected what would have been health insurance for what is estimated at more than 100,000 Oklahomans, Oklahomans who are in dire need of the services a Medicaid expansion would provide to them. These are Oklahomans who, despite the political rhetoric, are hard-working, broke and more likely to suffer from a slew of diseases simply because they grew up in an oil- and natural gas-producing state; a state which then refuses them aid, even though, by most accounts, it would end up saving us money and boost the economy
Right now, I’m hoping for a single-payer system, but, at the very least, please consider the people you vote into office. Research them; vote responsibly; do the right thing.
My health — and that of millions of your countrymen — depends on it.