I did a funny thing today.
I bought into the propaganda I’ve been fed my whole life in regards to what, as a citizen of these United States, I can expect when it comes to quality of life.
Now, look. I know better. I do. I was uninsured for a long-ass time, because I couldn’t afford it. When ACA went in, my household became insured, but, funny story, between what I was making a month and the amount that was taken out ($250 a paycheck, folks) I couldn’t actually afford to USE that insurance.
That changed with my new job. Not only am I making more money (it would be living wage — mind you, a meager, studio apartment in a different city with no dependents at all — for one person), but the insurance actually covers enough that I can afford to do things like see my doctor yearly, and also afford the Rxs I need to have in order to function. It was even enough for me to get tests done to figure out the thyroid stuff.
Dentistry, though? Ha!
A few weeks ago, I had an issue with a tooth and went to see them. Things cleared up, but they scheduled me for a thorough exam to see where things are at. It’s been five years since I last went, and before that it was something like 18. Save the lectures. Like most folks here in the US, affordable preventative dentistry is not an option.
Hopefully this will be the last time I shell out $70 that could have been a week plus of groceries to be reminded that I can only afford emergency care, not preventative.
I walked home from the appointment ashamed, feeling foolish, feeling guilty, feeling like a failure at being a human being. And combating the irrational issues that having people touching me that close, for that long, with a past of dental trauma. So, finances aside, going to the dentist is a HUGE deal for me. I don’t know that many situations make me as tense and as on the verge of bolting as that does. It took me about a block or two to get the hysteria leashed enough that I move past the shame and glide into anger.
Because, fuck this. I have ensurance. I work 40hrs a week, plus more on some side hustles. Our household debt at this point is 3300$, and yes, some of that is credit card debt, and do you know why? So we could keep the lights on. So we could get medication. So that we could feed ourselves and our critters, because it’s been months of ends not quite meeting. It’s also outstanding medical debt from my infection in Nov 2018. Some if it’s IRS crap from 2016. We’re working hard (Beth’s picked up a small number of part time work, on top of her store — yay for the side hustles) on getting that debt paid down. There other goals that we have. It’d be great to have an emergency fund. It’d be great to see our greater family again in the next decade. It’d be awesome to not keep living paycheck to almost paycheck.
Did I mention our rent went up?
I have insurance. I still can’t get the dentistry done that I need, and while I’m frustrated and mad for myself, I’m also furious because most people in our country can’t have preventative care of any kind and also feed their families. I almost wish I hadn’t bought into that propaganda that says I can, because I know better. Some do get to have that life. It’s a small portion, and it’s dwindling.
I’m mad because it doesn’t look like a lot at the surface. Less that 2k, that’s not a big deal, right? But I’m not willing to add to our debt while we have no emergency buffer and we’re angling to relocate within the next five years. I’m mad, because we shouldn’t have to add thousands of dollars to our debt to get basic healthcare. I’m mad, because these teeth wouldn’t need what they need if I could have afforded basic dentistry all this time. I’m mad because this is not a unique situation, and we all of us deserve better than this. I’m mad, because this is just one more thing.
I’m also, beneath this mad, mired in anxiety, depression (what’s the point, again?) and flirting with apathy. It’ll pass, but it’s also not been this bad in a long, loooong time. I want to pull the covers up over my head and forget about the world. I want for everything to just stop for a while. There’s no end in sight, it’s never going to get better, and I feel like an idiot, that I keep on believing that it will be. I thought this last raise was going to give us breathing room. I thought the side hustles would help. (The raise didn’t, the side hustles WILL help, just not yet; I know that. But I also don’t believe it, yet.)
Oh, the US. Who cares whether or not you can DO anything with that insurance, so long as you have it?