Obamacare...or: Why I Went Three Weeks with an Unrepaired Broken Wrist
With the election looming upon us, I'm sure my story won't change anyone's vote, but perhaps it will at least make you think.
I'm a moderate in almost every way, and think both major parties have gone pretty far off track in their extreme views ("Hand outs for everyone, damn the cost!" vs "Legitimate rape, pay your own way in ALL THE WAYS!" etc). But as of october 6th, I essentially turned into a single issue voter. Here's why.
I was laid off from my job managing a jumper/eventer barn in the first week of september. My former employers were kind enough to pay me for october as severance (extremely rare in the horse industry and much appreciated!). I immediately began pounding the pavement looking for a new job, did lots of petsitting, piled up cash as my favorite financial guru, Dave Ramsey, would say to do. Because I networked very well and am good at what I do, I was hired almost immediately part time at a dressage barn, just two or three weeks after I was given my notice.
I am a single 24 year old. I have been financially independent and earned my own way entirely from the time I was 19 years old. I've had three sick days in my entire working life (approx 7 years). My parents do not have health insurance so I am ineligible to be on their plan. Any independently purchased plans didn't make sense or were totally out of my reach financially. So I am uninsured, though pretty much totally healthy.
On october 3rd, my new boss said she wanted to hire me full time beginning in late october. Great! I'm fully employed, managed things well enough that I'll be fine through october. All is well...
And then, on my way to work on October 6th, everything changed. I was on my way to work on my Vespa, when a woman in a jeep failed to yield to oncoming traffic, and made a left directly into my path at 45mph. She t-boned me in her right bumper, I landed on my back, saw stars. Luckily she stayed, and there were several witnesses. I had a nurse friend pick me up and take me to the hospital after the cops, ambulance, firetruck etc arrived. I was xrayed and diagnosed with a severely broken wrist that went right through the joint on my right (ie dominant hand), and was referred to a specialist - an orthopedic surgeon.
The ortho saw me the following thursday and said I would need a CT scan, and then likely surgery - several pins, and a titanium plate. Great, I had medical payments on my insurance policy, and since she was at fault, her insurance would be paying for it regardless! Thought we were good to go.
NOT SO FAST. The orthopedic surgeon wouldn't accept third party billing (ie my car insurance), and neither would my local hospital. They offered to do it for $3,800 in cash. Now, if I had that kind of cash laying around, I could probably buy health insurance, now wouldn't I?
Now, you say, isn't there some sort of state or county funding you could get? Yes, but I was deemed ineligible, because there was an at fault party in a motor vehicle collision.
But, you say, shouldn't her insurance be paying for it?! Well yes, but a) the accident report was not finished until almost two weeks post accident, so there was no way to assign fault, and b) They pay out in a lump sum settlement at the end of things, not as the medical bills are coming in.
Last week, my aunt and uncle offered to lend me the money to get it taken care of, so I called the first surgeon to see if they could still do it, to which they responded "Dr X probably does not have time on his surgery schedule to do it, and because you are three weeks from the break, you may be beyond the point where we can fix you." I'm not sure if anyone has ever told you that you were unfixable, but I can assure you that you can go almost no lower. Did I mention I'd been in the same temporary splint for over two weeks? I had to get a nurse friend of mine to change it out in a back room during her night shift.
So in the end I had to hire an attorney, go to a neighboring county in a bigger city to find a surgeon who would put me back together again, and borrow $3,000+ as a deposit and have the attorney file a lien on the remaining insane amount of money that this surgery cost. I have had to pay for my own prescriptions, and because I don't have a GP, I cannot get them refilled.
Had my aunt and uncle not offered this to me, I might well still be sitting here with a severely displaced broken wrist, fusing together, deformed. In the meantime, I cannot do the job that I was hired to do, though I'm hoping to at least be able to clean stalls and feed with my left hand once I have a cast. In a supposedly civilized country like this one, this is absolutely f%^$king unacceptable. I cannot be the only person that this has ever happened to, and it happening to one is too many. Every week that this wasn't dealt with was a week I wasn't working, wasn't contributing taxes, wasn't spending money.
Oh, now I think I hit my head when it happened (despite a very protective, expensive helmet) and I'm concerned that I'm going to run into the same issues, that I can't afford a neurologist or MRI to be sure.
Like I said, I'm doubtful this will change anyone's vote, but maybe it will make you think. Just an ordinary taxpaying american citizen, trying to go to work, doing nothing wrong, and my life was forever changed. I don't believe this is how, I, as an american citizen ought to be treated in our healthcare system.