[image: A bill from a collection agency for a hospital bill in the amount of $44,249.85]
[TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE]
A few years ago, I was uninsured and couldn’t afford to get my insulin, Depakote, and anti-depressants for weeks at a time. I’d start rationing insulin when I had one bottle left in an attempt to stave off ketoacidosis.
I also suffer from severe chronic migraines, and the only thing that makes them bearable is Depakote. I had to ration this as well, and when it ultimately ran out, my migraines would keep me in my house for days at a time, curled up in pain and vomiting up anything I ate.
The same thing happened with my anti-depressants, so not only was my diabetes spiraling out of control and my migraines keeping me from working or going to school (I dropped out for a semester), but I also sank deep into depression.
Eventually, I ran out of insulin and went into diabetic ketoacidosis, which basically means that my blood sugar levels were so high for so long that my blood was turning acidic and wreaking twenty kinds of havoc on my entire body.
I ended up in the ER, then intensive care for three days, then a regular ward for two more days while they ran a billion tests on me.
A week after I got out, I got a bill for roughly $15,000, none of which was covered by my non-existent insurance, and none of which was able to be written off using the hospital’s charity program. I also wasn’t eligible for COBRA because it had been less than 12 months since I was last on my dad’s insurance.
A day or two after I got the bill, I tried to kill myself because 1.) Where the fuck is a 21-year-old diabetic college student who can’t even go to school because of his migraines supposed to get $15,000 (plus an assortment of other medical bills from the past 8 months), 2.) My migraines were still untreated because I couldn’t afford to get the prescriptions they’d given me at the hospital, and 3.) The single bottles of the two insulins I use that they’d given me at the hospital were going to be empty pretty fuckin’ quick.
So I spent my last $10 on a bottle of vodka, got trashed, and cut my wrists.
Luckily, I was so drunk I couldn’t really work the blade properly, so I passed out and woke up in a puddle of blood and spilled liquor ten hours later.
I drove myself to the ER once again, and this time ended up in the psych ward for four days before I promised not to kill myself and demanded to be discharged.
That bill totaled about $25,000. I guess psych wards are expensive.
I got evicted from my apartment in the midst of these health crises, lost my job at Burger King (as if that would have paid my medical bills), and lost what little state aid I was getting in the form of food stamps, because I’d lost my BK job.
So I was hungry, homeless, sick, and I still couldn’t afford my damn medication. I spent a month or two living in my Dodge Neon with my cat, buying food from gas stations and grocery stores that I knew didn’t use electronic check readers so that I could write checks for money that I didn’t have in my account.
Eventually, I started to gather my shit together, and I moved back in with my parents 1000 miles away (where I ended up in the hospital AGAIN, but was able to get the bill written off as charity).
The only reason I’m able to afford my medications and doctor visits now is because the healthcare reform mandated that insurance companies cover dependent students until they’re 26, rather than 18 or 20 like it was before.
tl;dr: healthcare is important and everyone ought to have access to it, even sick people. If you think only rich and healthy people should have healthcare, that’s fine, but I still think you’re an asshole :)