During my entire working adult life, the only time I have had health insurance was when I was living outside of the country. As an English teacher in Korea, I was covered under the Korean national health plan. After being in the country for a few weeks I received a small blue booklet that was my health insurance card.
Overjoyed at the thought of having health insurance, I used it whenever I could. Things that I would normally ignore sent me rushing off to see the doctor. Swelling in my big toe, time to see the doctor. More acne than usual on my face, time to see the doctor. Food poisoning, congestion, a rash on my arm, time to see the doctor.
I also enjoyed whipping my health card out at the pharmacy. The pharmacist would take my card and jot down some information before giving me my very cheap medicine. I usually wouldn’t use the medicine for as long as directed. That cream for my acne made my face itch. The medicine for my congestion made me dizzy. I didn’t really know what I was taking and that also made me nervous. I had a toiletry case full of ointments, creams and little packets of pills.
Now, even though I work in the health care industry, I don’t have the luxury of health insurance. I find myself feeling envious of those who do. My mother recently fell off of her scooter and shattered her shoulder. She has gone to several doctors and will eventually need physical therapy. She has insurance.
If I had fallen and broken my shoulder, I would have to send my husband out to cut a good straight branch off one of the trees outside of our apartment. We would use tape and string to fashion it into a splint for my arm. My husband would research healing time and physical therapy exercises on the internet, and I would hope for the best.