I’m already self-employed – I’m a consultant and a non-fiction writer before I go into a phone booth and put on my glasses – so all this yammering about health care makes me kind of want to reach out and hit people. If you believe in the American dream, in pursuing your dreams to be self-employed, in the importance of writing and art, you might consider making a fist yourself.
The reasons I am self-employed mainly revolve around family. One: My husband and I want to stay near my mother in law, and there aren’t any jobs for me in this area. Two: Our son is young and we wanted someone to be at home with him. Three: I wanted to transition to writing fiction. When you work at an office and have nothing to do for a half hour, you websurf or hang out near the donuts. At least that’s what I did on the rare occasions that I had downtime. Working at home I can use downtime to do line edits or update an author blog or respond to email and further my writing career. At least I can when the babysitter is here
But this could not, COULD NOT happen if my husband wasn’t providing us with health insurance. To get the same kind of insurance that I have right now (no deductible, 10 dollar copay), for just me, I would have to start paying over 450 dollars a month.
A month. For just me.
Clearly, that would not be an option. My son is two, for one thing. Two is when you jump off things because you could fly if you tried hard enough. He needs health insurance. For another thing, he’s prone to febrile seizures. We went to the emergency room a few weeks ago because of that. Insured, the visit cost 815 dollars and we paid 50 of that. Uninsured, the visit would have cost 2600 and we’d have paid all of that. This Friday, he is having minor surgery (tear duct). If we weren’t insured, the hospital offers a payment plan. I would have my choice between plans that will pay off this two minute procedure in 2, 4, or 6 years. YEARS.
Besides me and my son, my husband needs health care, too.
If I were buying health insurance for the three of us, I would obviously try to cut corners. There’d be a deductible. A higher copay. I’d agree to pay out of pocket if we had another baby or got cancer. You can see in that scenario that I would have to do a lot of praying, because preventative care is out of the question and major needs unthinkable. We’d be okay unless one of us needed to go to the hospital for something – like, say, a broken arm because someone thought jumping off the bed was hilarious no matter how often timeout is invoked – and then we’d be screwed unless we had savings. Which would be fine, everyone should have savings, only then we wouldn’t have savings if my husband lost his job or the car needed to be replaced or our son wanted to go to college.
Under our current system, if I were the primary support for my family and I wanted to be a writer, we would always be one broken arm away from disaster. Don’t even think about cancer.
I also know that the plan causing so much whining doesn’t actually ameliorate the situation.
I have an editor friend who lives in Canada. He’s been self-employed for two years. He’s really making a go of it, and he and his girlfriend are planning to get married and have a kid. (In that order; Canadian health care doesn’t make babies out of wedlock – an actual complaint I heard from some idiot too stupid to breath, let alone legislate.) That’s because he just takes his health care card to the doctor’s office whenever he needs to go. When he needs to go to the emergency room, it’s not packed with non-emergency problems. He has twice as many general care doctors in his tiny town than I have next to a major city. When I tell him the horror stories we’re fed about his plan, he laughs his head off.
From my point of view, if this bill had a flaw, it’s that all the whining and bitching from the ill-informed made it LESS like Canada’s. But I’m happy to see baby steps.
Writing is a real job, but so many writers in this country are marginalized as hobbyists because the single issue of health care prevents people from writing full time unless they’re married and privileged. And that’s a hell of a thing.