The ACA requires those who do not have health insurance to make a sacrifice so that (1) emergency rooms are used as true emergencies and not as primary health care; and (2) so that local taxes which support the indigent care given to those in the ER room, may be used for much needed items used by all, i.e. improved roads, transportation, the list goes on. Of course there are others reasons, but these are my top two.
I graduated law school in 1992, clerked for a judge for two years and had great health insurance because of my government job. I started my own law practice in 1994, in a city where I didn’t know another soul prior to moving here. I came to Savannah as a newly wed in a marriage that was subsequently annulled. I became a single mother again, As I had been previously divorced with a ten year old daughter. I did not know on a daily basis, not to mention weekly or monthly basis, how I would pay my mortgage, car note, law school loans, rent for my office and my supplies to practice law. But I understood that health insurance for myself and my daughter had to be a priority in the budget. I cannot tell you how I managed to get the bills paid except by faith. And not all bills were paid on time, some were late, 30 days late sometimes -which of course negatively impacted my credit rating. But the bills were paid. Whenever, I was truly at my wits end, miraculously my mortgage company would send me a certificate permitting me to skip a payment which permitted the funds to be used elsewhere, or a client would walk through the door.
I learned to live without cable, vacations and other luxuries. And I was blessed to have child support (from husband #1) and a mentor who helped me get started in the practice. My only asset was a laptop when I started my practice. My mentor lent me a beautiful pine desk, rented a room in his office/home(on a sliding scale proportionate to my intake), and gave me permission to print my docs on his printer using floppy disks (as this was long before wireless). That setup worked until his secretary became too inconvenienced and he charged me to buy my own printer. Also remember back in 1994, printers were quite pricey.
I bought a $900 laser printer on my Amex card and prayed that I would have the money when the bill was due in full at the end of the month. A few days later, a new client entered my office needing an attorney for a mediation between her union and former employer for a wrongful termination case. The mediation was scheduled two days from the date she walked into the office. She had come in to seek from my mentor, but had no money for a retainer. He was a well known local civil rights litigator. (Justice Thomas clerked for him, more on that in another blog). He referred her to me.
She told me she didn’t trust black lawyers. She is black. I prepared her case, negotiated a settlement and the case generated a $9000 fee for me. My prayers were answered and I was able to pay for that printer when the Amex bill became due.
I currently have premium health insurance because I married a union man. My daughter missed the 26 year old cut off under ACA and therefore she could not be covered under our insurance while she completed her master’s degree in public health. She has used the ER room for much needed, but not life-saving medical treatment.
My daughter is waiting to become insured when her employer has open enrollment. She needs it, her maternal grandmother had breast cancer; I have the BRCA gene mutation that predicts a greater likelihood of breast and other cancers than the general public. I pray that she follows through and makes the sacrifice and makes health insurance a priority. I want her to have health insurance for her welfare and for selfish reasons. I do not want to go broke should she ever require expensive life saving medical treatment.
My point is this: we the peeps- Americans, have forgotten two of the most important lessons learned by our ancestors- sacrifice and “making do” in order to survive. I am still learning to sacrifice, I am not often successful but I continue to strive and to resist the addiction of the conspicuous consumption of goods I don’t need and really cannot afford.