Angel's Letter to the Governor
Tuesday, August 19 was a memorable day for me. I started by voting in the 2008 primary election for governor. I became a certified family nurse practitioner (FNP-c) after passing my certification exam (a mandatory step to becoming an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP)). When I was in the process of cooking my celebratory dinner with my husband in the small unit that I own, things began to go awry.
Around 7 p.m., a knife that I was slicing vegetables with slipped from the counter and deeply wounded my foot. I knew almost immediately that I would need medical attention to approximate the wound. This realization was met with extreme hesitancy since I am one of the people who sit solidly in the middle class, but do not have health insurance.
I have not enjoyed being without health insurance, rather have fallen into this black hole for several reasons.
1) I am a student who is on summer break. I have opted out of annual health insurance coverage because the costs of coverage equal the amount I spend on school for a quarter of the year. If I paid for such insurance, I would not be able to finish my program in a timely manner and would incur more fees by prolonging my schooling.
2) My husband and I have taken out catastrophic insurance coverage, which costs $140/month, but offers minimal useful benefits. This plan stipulates that we pay 20% of all bills after we have incurred and payed, $2500 of our medical expenses annually. Obviously, for two healthy individuals, the only time we would use this is if we had some extreme emergency. My foot wound would not be covered.
3) I am employed per diem in a hospital. I attempted to maintain my part-time status working as a Registered Nurse to keep my benefits, and I was successful in doing so until approximately 7 months ago. It was then that I had to decrease my work hours because I was simultaneously working on two Master’s degrees. For the summer, I am back to working a full-time schedule in my nursing position, however, since I am going back to school in September and will be decreasing my work hours then, I am not eligible to be titled “full-time” or “part-time” and receive health care benefits at this time.
4) I have a husband who has a Master’s level education, who works two part-time jobs in two separate non-profit organizations, neither or which offer health insurance coverage.
So, last night when I cut my foot, I was prepared to pay out of pocket for the three or so stitches that I needed. Because I have performed this procedure myself on others, I knew what was required would be minimal—wound cleaning, local anesthetic, and three simple sutures. I called a local clinic which had no open appointments. They recommended me to another clinic which did not offer the procedure. They recommended that I go to the emergency room.
I was not prepared to spend more than $500 by going to the emergency room or an urgent care facility. I also did not want to wait hours in a waiting room for such a minor injury. Nonetheless, I called a local emergency room (the one at the hospital where I was employed) and asked how much it would cost for my treatment. As expected, they were not able to tell me. In the end, I cleaned my wound with soap and water, sent my husband to the drug store to buy some super-glue, then super-glued my wound closed (which is a treatment commonly used for wound approximation by health care providers in case you were wondering) and took some ibuprofen for the pain.
I am sorry to keep going on with this story, but it is one you must know! My husband and I are educated individuals who currently live on a tight budget. We are model citizens who vote, volunteer our time to community organizations, work for a living, pay our bills on time, and live simply. If we are in this situation, I can only imagine what it is like to have children, to be an immigrant with few rights, to be uneducated and have no hope of getting out of these current circumstances.
Do something about the current state of our health insurance system.
- Start by mandating health insurance coverage for all individuals in
. Washington State
- Standardize state-wide costs for services so that individuals can easily know what cost will be incurred when seeking health care.
- Mandate improved health insurance coverage for 18-30 year olds that more suitably meets there needs—contraceptive care, health maintenance, minor injury protection.
- Stop health insurance companies from providing health insurance that does not provide any useful services.