What should be one of the most exciting times of my life, has been turned upside down.
At the start of this year, I was faced with a situation I had never anticipated or prepared for. At 20 years old and a junior in college, I was without health insurance.
A little background information for you all. In March of 2018, while I was abroad, my health care coverage I had been on since I was a child had been canceled due to missed payments. This is something my sister and I didn't find out about until a month after it had been canceled. As I was abroad through Marquette, I had mandatory international health insurance. My younger sister was not so lucky and faced many issues with getting prescriptions and scheduling doctor visits. My mom stepped in and canceled her current health care coverage to be able to enroll us all in temporary, month by month, health care coverage. Not only was this expensive but was only used in the case of a catastrophic event happening with our health. This went on for all of 2018 as we attempted to qualify for special enrollment through the Market Place but were unsuccessful in finding a plan that worked for us. My mom then made a plan to continue the temporary health insurance until the end of the year and enrolled us in health insurance when the Market Place opened again at the end of 2018. After enrolling us in a plan with good coverage and paying over $3000 in down payments we were secure for the foreseeable future.
It was only on New Year's Day we realized there was a problem. I tried to log onto our account to find a local doctor that was covered to get my blood drawn, but the system was not registering an account with my mom's information. This worried us all because my mom had already paid for the insurance and it was supposed to start the very 1stof the year. It was only I had already gone to the doctor and gave them my supposed health insurance that my mom told me the news, the health care insurance company had canceled our plan without notifying us. This is where I have to give credit to MY AMAZING MOM who has spent hours on the phone with the Market Place and the health insurance company trying to figure out what went wrong.
If you can believe it, it all came down to my sister and I noted on the form that we were a part of a Native American tribe. When they couldn't verify our place in the tribe, they canceled our paid for health insurance instead of just not giving us the tax benefit being in a nationally recognized tribe provides. We later found out through numerous phone calls that we would not even qualify for any tax benefits due to our low percentage. You can only imagine how frustrating it was to find out our coverage was canceled for a benefit we would have never received even with our documentation being provided.
It was only a few days ago that my mom told me she could not get any father with Market Place or the health insurance company. They were both telling her that the other party was at fault and they couldn't fix it. She jumped through so many hoops only to be left with phone calls not returned and full voicemails. My mom has since decided she will not be pursuing getting health care coverage for herself, and it hoping my sister qualifies for Medicaid. She told me I would have to go about applying to the Market Place individually and hoping I was accepted for special enrollment. To do this my mom is assuming she will not be able to claim me as a dependent on her upcoming taxes. My first thought here is how this will affect my FASFA and government assistance with the cost of college. Especially with my tuition raising $2,000, but that is a whole other conversation for another time. This is the first time in my life I have not had health care and cannot actively see myself being enrolled in the near future. You can understand my lack of faith in the Market Place after our issues with them for the past 2 months.
As I stated above, this is never something I had been prepared for or expected. My whole life I had taken my health care insurance for granted and assumed it would always be there. I am now faced with issues of paying hundreds of dollars for my prescription medication I need to function and not being able to see my doctors. Even though my family has the resources to pay for these things without health insurance, it still creates an obstacle of paying outrageous costs for everything out-of-pocket. I have a bill for getting my blood drawn that is over $1,500 dollars. I'm 20 years old and I don't know how to face this very adult obstacle.
The point of this is not to gain sympathy or say, 'woe is me'. I wanted to start a conversation about the issues we face as a country regarding health care coverage. I know how very fortunate I am as my family can afford for me to go to the doctor if I were to get sick, to be able to continue my prescription medication. When you hear so many stories of people, even those with health insurance, who go days and weeks without medication their body needs to properly function because of the cost of it.
There has never been an obstacle quite like this one in my life so far. Sure, I've dealt with other things that have had a much bigger impact on my life as a whole, but I have never been filled with such a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about the cost of my health.
Through this whole process, all I can think about is those whole face this dilemma every day. An even worse dilemma that involves not being able to pay for the rising cost of health insurance even if they could be enrolled. This has made me really contemplate how we as a society don't like to talk about things that don't directly affect us. Before this, I never thought about how the health insurance industry worked or the obstacles other people faced. As far as I was concerned, I would be covered until I was 27 under my current plan, and by then would have a job that I would have benefits from. I was so ignorant about this process and the trials people have to go through to get the health care they deserve. No one can actually say someone doesn't deserve health care coverage or to be able to not go into debt when they see a doctor because they are sick.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS! Even if you have never had to worry about health insurance because your parents took care of it, like me. We have to stop pretending problems don't exist just because we don't deal with them. What kind of people does that make us? Regardless of your political views or party association, we should all care about other people.
I'll figure this out, I have the resources available to be able to afford health insurance should I be allowed to enroll. But there are so many people out there who don't have that ability, and we should all care about that.