I am a 27-year-old New Yorker and I have been living without health insurance for a little over a year now. I lost my insurance when I left my full-time teaching job to pursue writing. I now teach part-time and intern (for little to no pay) and write with the rest of my time. Between rent, student loans, and living expenses, my budget has little wiggle room, but after a recent bout of the flu, I decided that I really needed to get serious about finding some health insurance. I was deeply disappointed by what I found.
A few people had recommended that I try Healthy NY. I went on their website and took an eligibility test, but was denied. I make about $200 too much each month to qualify. I looked at some of the insurance company links that Healthy NY directed me too (for rich people like me who can afford to pay tons of money out of pocket for insurance) and was shocked to see that if I wanted health insurance I would have to pay almost $500 each month to get it. Between my rent and other expenses, there is no way I could afford this. Besides, if I only make $200 too much, shouldn’t you charge me an amount closer to that?
This is a perfect example of the problems that plague our current health care system. If I didn’t work at all and or worked a low-paying job, I could receive free health insurance in the form of Medicaid, Family Aid, or Healthy NY. Because I do work and don’t receive any federal aid, I can’t. My employers don’t cover my health insurance, but also don’t pay me enough money so that I can afford to buy it on my own. I feel like I am being punished for being a responsible member of society.
It’s really scary to live without health insurance, even for someone like me who is young and generally healthy. If I was involved in some sort of emergency right now and had to go to the hospital, I would spend the rest of my life paying off medical bills. I hope something changes soon so that everyone has access to health insurance at a reasonable cost.
Have you ever lived without insurance? What do you hope will come out of the current healthcare overhaul?