I would like to go to the doctor soon. I’m not exactly sick, but I’ve got a few moles that I want looked at and a few persistent stress injuries from the gym that I’d appreciate a medical professional’s advice on. I cannot go to the doctor right now, because under my current Oscar insurance plan I only get three free general practitioner visits a year. I already used one in April when I was sick and need to save the other two for flu season, because if I use up those free visits I have to pay out of pocket for everything up to my $7,000+ deductible. I’m rationing health insurance right now. This is not something I should have to do in any sort of just society. And don’t even get me started on the dentist.
So it’s heartening to hear an elected representative acknowledge this all too real phenomenon, as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did during a House Oversight Committee meeting today.
“It is the stress, and it is the anxiety, when you wake up every morning and you don’t know if you’re going to slip on a curb, if you’re going to find something on your body that you want to get checked out, if your knee starts to ache, everything becomes a spiral of anxiety because you don’t know how you’re going to afford it,” she said in the hearing.
Yes! This! This is fucking stressful! My girlfriend and I are on similar plans. Earlier this week she woke up with a nasty sore throat, a problem that she’s had several times in the past few months. Her GP (on free visit number one, months ago) told her she should see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (which isn’t covered by her current plan). Fortunately for her, she just got a new full-time job with good insurance—but it doesn’t kick in until August. So no ENT until then. Let’s hope the antibiotics she paid for out-of-pocket work!
Those are just two stories from my life in the last week, and I’m a pretty healthy, pretty wealthy white guy living in New York City. It is so, so much worse for so many more people—as AOC spoke to later in her testimony—in states that chose not to expand Medicaid coverage for their most vulnerable residents. Ocasio-Cortez turned to Frederick Isasi, the director of Families USA, to ask why states declined the expansion.
“I used to work with the governors [of states who rejected Medicaid expansions] on this very question,” Isasi replied. “And the truth to that answer is because it was tainted as Obamacare, and it was a completely political decision.”
There you have it. At least if I get skin cancer I’ll know who to blame.