Hard Times Make Health

Three years ago, I had some heart palpitations that scared me. Had I had health insurance, I would have headed off to a general practitioner to get things checked out. Yet, like many Americans, I didn’t. I felt like I had no other option other than to go to the emergency room (stupidly thinking that it would be free of cost)-and off I went, feeling alone and scared. They kept me there for several hours, during which I slept for an hour. I woke up to have somebody tell me that all my test results came back fine; I had nothing to worry about. Relieved, and feeling giddy with happiness, I went back home.

I remember that day, feeling like the luckiest person in the world. Yet within a month and a half, I received a haunting envelope in the mail from that hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. I carefully tore it open, and panicked when I saw that it was a bill for 1300 dollars. How could this be? Was this possible? I couldn’t afford health insurance because I was poor-how could I be expected to pay a thousand three hundred dollars! I felt pretty sick right then and there. (https://medium.com/@melanieaddington/9f3b4c9b80c)

To this day, I still haven’t paid it back-how can I, with a job that pays 10 dollars an hour (and that’s after being with the company for a good year), five-hundred and seventy five dollars that I have to shell out for rent and utilities, groceries that cost a hundred dollars a week (I never eat out and it still costs me this much, probably because I refuse to buy low-quality food and produce), and other expenses for very basic amenities? Let’s see, I own a computer, but can’t afford internet, which costs sixty to a hundred dollars a month.

My cell phone, with the cheapest plan, costs me $53 a month.
I used to buy clothes and shoes as the seasons changed; now I buy things from thrift stores, but haven’t felt right wearing the sandals that someone else’s germs have been inhabiting. I even skimp on health supplements-while I used to buy top-notch supplements, and lots of them (vitamins, minerals, probiotics, immune system boosters for the cold and flu season), I’ve had to not only severely cut out much of my regimen but also forgo some of my favorite, high-quality supplements for inferior ones. And believe me, I can tell a difference. And that’s pretty much it– I don’t own a car, just a bike. I know people that make less than me, with more bills. How on earth do they survive?

Somebody tell me, how is it possible for someone who has a degree from a prestigious university (Brown University, as a matter of fact) to be in such a financial quagmire? I’m in debt from a hospital bill, barely making it on my low wages and having to forgo enjoyment for practicality. It’s more than an inconvenience– it’s downright depressing! But more importantly, it’s not something that’s affecting one person, but a multitude.


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