Last summer, I inhaled a rare, flesh-eating bacteria that nearly killed me. Naturally, six months later I went back and interviewed my doctors (among others) and tried to figure out what might have happened had I been one of the 28 million Americans who are completely uninsured.

I discovered, in trying to create an alternate timeline of my illness, how important comprehensive health insurance, disability benefits, and other material variables are for keeping people alive—not just in terms of receiving quality care when there’s an accident, but for assuaging the anxiety that keeps so many Americans from seeking care in the first place, and during long recoveries where we’re forced to lean on others for extended, unpaid support.

Since then I’ve been collecting stories from other people: Everyone knows someone who’s been brutalized by our healthcare system, and while few officials will admit it, people die from not having insurance all the time.

If you have a story about healthcare in America, please do get in touch.