There have been a pair of articles in the Collegian recently talking about health insurance and how everyone should always be insured. While I do agree that it would be really amazing for everyone to be insured and have healthcare, that’s just not the case.
There are still so many reasons why you wouldn’t have healthcare in today’s society that insisting that people should be insured regardless of their life situation is a perspective that is completely disconnected from reality.
I’ve had my run in with needing health insurance before. Two years ago on New Years Eve, I was in a major car accident on I-25. I was going between 50 and 60 MPH when I hit some black ice and swerved off the road. The car I was in should’ve flipped and killed both passengers, but instead I was fortunate — a word I’m using loosely in this case — and ran into the side of a semi truck.
For the sake of this column I’ll skip the details, but needless to say I was hospitalized for two months with temporary brain damage and racked up enough medical bills to last me a lifetime.
At the time of the accident I was uninsured. I come from a single mother home structure and my mother was a teacher, so we didn’t have the money for full coverage for both her and me. Even though I was working 20-40 hours a week at the time of the accident, I couldn’t even dream of getting health insurance at minimum wage. This is where the reality breaks from this wonderful fantasy where everyone is insured and should just somehow be able to pick cash from the money tree to afford it.
Even with both members of my family working, neither of us could afford health insurance at the time on top of paying for living expenses and college fees. I was put in the interesting conundrum of being able to afford health insurance or education, but not both. A no-win situation where no matter which of them I picked, I was putting myself in a position no one would want to be in.
This is the sad reality of the American education and healthcare system. Our higher education is ludicrously expensive compared to almost all other first world countries, and as Tony Frank’s last email proved, it’s not going to be getting any better any time too soon. Our healthcare system is still one of the most expensive in the world because so many people are scared to death of socialized healthcare. We live in a country where we’re more than willing to pay for our military to kill people we don’t know for reasons we aren’t clear on, but we’re not willing to help pay for healthcare for our own citizens.
This whole image of people without healthcare as a burden on society though is another classic case of blaming the victim. I assure you I wasn’t trying to get my head knocked in at the time of the accident and although I got some help from the state when paying these bills, I didn’t really have too much of a choice. With the low wages paid in most jobs made available to college students and the lack of opportunities to get healthcare, don’t be too surprised when most people still can’t afford insurance. Many of the new programs that make insurance more accessible to students still completely depend on your parents so if you come in without support from the beginning, you’re still out of luck.
So the next time you think that someone should have health insurance regardless of their situation, think about trying to pay for living expenses, college, and health insurance at the age of 21. It might be a little harder than you think.
Brian Fosdick is a junior journalism major. His columns appear Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.