Apr 212017

In order to get my regular antidepressant medication refilled while unemployed I got on Medicaid, the government health program for the poor. And my medical world has turned upside down. For the first time in my life I have decent medical coverage.

All my adult life I’ve been employed and insured through my workplace. The last several years I worked as an accountant making a decent fraction above the national median income (at the time of writing ~$55K/year). I was by all accounts a responsible, contributing member of society. My credit score rocks.

I paid a couple hundred dollars a month for insurance. I basically never went to the doctor, because it costs $30 and I don’t need to pay $30 to have someone tell me “Get plenty of bed rest for a week” or “Don’t do any squats or stress your back for the next month.” I only got medical care when it was really dire.

When I injured myself I went to physical therapy ONCE. I got their list of recommended stretches and exercises and then continue them at home for the month(s) advised. Because I can’t afford to go back regularly at $70 a session.

And everyone basically understands that savings only exist until such a time as you suffer from something really bad, in which case you get to go bankrupt, because that’s just how life works. Sucks, but it’s better than what our ancestors had, where you just died.

Then I got Medicaid, and I paid $2 to see a doctor to get my prescription renewed.

$2. Two. Dollars.

So you know what I did when I pulled something in my back (again) a couple weeks later? I went to the doctor!

Any time in my life before this I woulda said “Man, that sucks. Gonna take a lot of Tylenol and not stress my back at all and get through it.” Because that’s what the doctor would say anyway. But this time? For $2? Yeah, sure, I went to go see the doctor.

And yeah, that’s what he said. But then he also said “And go get physical therapy, here’s a place across the street that takes Medicaid.” So I went. You know how much it costs?

Free. Up to twelve sessions per year. Free.

So now I’m in physical therapy. And I’m finally actually addressing the lower back problems that I’ve been avoiding and struggling with for over a decade. It’s slow going, but I’m seeing progress, and I can’t believe this is really happening.

It’s a weird feeling knowing that I can actually go and get medical care whenever I need it, now. Life feels a bit less hostile. For the first time in my, I have real health care coverage.

What a bizarre country. I can either be gainfully employed OR I can get decent medical coverage. But not both at the same time. This is perverse. I am dreading the day I have to get a steady job again, simply for health reasons.

  8 Responses to “Medicine or Employment – Pick One”

  1. Move to Australia. We’ll have you*

    *I might be overplaying my role in Australian Immigration policy.

  2. I find the national median income to be misleading. Living in CA, and an especially expensive part of CA, people from other parts of the country would likely think me quite rich, sadly here I am just above average.

    That said, our healthcare system is a disaster; thanks for offering another angle on that. I have never heard anyone give such a positive review of medicaid.

    • > I have never heard anyone give such a positive review of medicaid.

      Maybe it’s not great compared to what you can get by paying a lot. But it’s far superior to not having any care worth mentioning, which is where I was.

  3. I think the real split here isn’t job vs healthcare. It is government run healthcare vs private run. It is a microcosm of the us health care system as a whole.

  4. ha. yeah, this is why liberals are always going on about single payer. Options like Medicaid are pretty great for the person using them, but create weird incentives with employment. The reason lots of liberals like Medicaid for all is that it fixes the weird incentive problems that currently exist between Medicaid and employment

    • The problem isn’t that you get medical aid when you’re unemployed. The problem is that you don’t get good mecial aid when you are employed.
      In my opinion everyone should get good healthcare and if american private insurances can’t deliever then the government should provide an alternative not only for the poor but for everyone. Because the way I see it they don’t provide a service right now. More of a disservice.

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