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Life Without Health Insurance

Updated on March 12, 2014

When my husband, Jeff, had a full time job with great health benefits, it was great. We still had to pay deductibles and co-pays, but it was entirely manageable with planning. But when he lost that job and began two part time jobs to take its place, things became quite confusing and difficult. You see, I have a lot of health issues that need to be dealt with constantly: fibromyalgia, rhumatoid arthritis, osteo arthritis, migraines, chondra malasia, allergies, asthma, TMJ and high blood pressure. At any given time I am taking six to twelve different medicines daily.

So, what do you do when you loose your health insurance in a situation like this? First, we extended the Cobra for as long as we could, making the payments ourselves and getting some help from parents. I was frightened of being without medicine, because it can be so painful. With good care before I was able to get a part time job. But if I had to go off my medicine would I be able to keep it? Without that job, what would happen to our son's schooling?

First, we checked all options. No one would cover me for independent insurance for less than $3000 a month. That's right, three zeros. My work only provided insurance for full time workers. Medicare and Social Security turned me down for benefits. So.

I spoke to my rhumatologist, a very caring and excellent doctor, and he said he would continue to see me for the same cost as my previous co-pay. Super! He gave me samples of whatever medicines he has in stock. Great!

For general care I enrolled in the Community Clinic, which offers very low cost services to people without insurance. They were able to help with some of my medicines. Appointments had to be scheduled a week or more in advance, and there is no choice of care provider. They are volunteers, so you take whoever you get. Good.

So this is where I landed: some medicine from my doctor, some from the clinic, some on the $4 list at one pharmacy, some on coupons at another pharmacy, and occasionally short term perscriptions through a third pharmacy. All are on differing schedules, so I was having to constantly keep track of how much I had of each, where to get that one and how. It's quite a task for someone with exhausting conditions.

If I became sick and needed to see a doctor right away, it became a problem. That is not something for a rhumatologist to deal with, and appointments at the clinic had to be made well in advance. So sometimes it meant going to Urgent Care and paying the full emergency room price.

Then the tornado hit and took out not only our house, but my doctor's office and all three places I got prescriptions. So the whole process of installing prescriptions again from my various sources began again, while we were trying to put our lives back together and living with friends.

My TMJ got much worse after the tornado, and was giving me severe headaches every day. I complained to my rhumatologist, and he said, "You have TMJ." I went to the clinic and they said, "Yes, it's rough. Some people never get over the tinnitus and have ringing in their ear the rest of their life." I went to the chiropractor, and he gave me treatments that helped for a little while, at $40 a visit. I complained to my dentist, and he recommended an orthodontist. I went to the orthodontist, who finally did a work up, and for around $1000 could make me a device on my teeth that MIGHT give me some relief. If it doesn't, we will be looking at surgery.

Not having a primary care physician, everything that comes up I run through the gamut of caregivers I see, hoping that someone will take it on and do something. I have a swollen, crowded thick feeling in my throat that no one will deal with. I have difficulty swallowing that no one can find a solution to. Recently I have had pain on the bottoms of my feet for which I have seen my doctor, the clinic, and a chiropractor. I have tried cheap and expensive metatarsal inserts, moist heat, magnets, soft shoes, muscle stim, Super Blue Stuff, ultrasound and laser. Still there are days I can hardly walk. Finally now I am on some steroids that I hope will help.

I usually get samples of my blood pressure medicine from the rhumatologist. However, they don't always have it in stock. So I have to keep my supplies up or I run out. This happened recently, and I was a week without, with bad headaches every day. We searched online for specials and coupons, and finally had to pay $130 with a coupon for a month supply.

When I was having difficulty getting the blood pressure medicine, the Clinic gave me a cheaper prescription for something different. I needed a refill during a time when the Clinic was closed, so asked my rhumatologist to give me a refill, and explained about the price. He refused, since he had not given me the prescription in the first place. So once again I was without for a while.

One of my medicines required an eye test every six months or so. This became burdensome, so we changed the medicines to save the $100 eye tests.

It is a life of scrambling around to try to get everything taken care of, and keep medicines in stock. It is going from one person to another to try to find answers for problems. There is no one to deal with the little things, like a sebaceous cyst on my back that is not infected, by very annoying. It is exhausting, and I am so tired. Grateful for all the help, and tired of the scrambling around.

Update 2014

Now Obamacare has been enacted. I was told that I was exactly the person this new law was designed to help. This is an update on what has happened in my case:

1. I am now required to pay several hundred dollars a month for the cheapest policy available, which will only cover catastrophic medical needs, and has a deductible of $10,000 to $12,000.

2. If I enrolled in this policy, I would also have to pay full price for my medications, one of which is over $100 a week. I would also have to pay full price for doctors' appointments, all of whom are specialists. Right now I am given a special price by my compassionate doctors since I don't have insurance.

So has this new law affected me? Oh yes. Has it helped me? Ohhhhh no.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I agree with Jester. I have so many of the same issues you named. It is so painful and the stress is even worse by exhausting yourself trying to get these problems fixed by people outside of you. For me, a Paleo or GAPS diet have significantly helped reduce the inflammation in my body and I feel more in charge of my health.... instead of relying on healthcare and doctors to take care of me when I'm at my worst. Or, if you don't want a whole diet change, just try avoiding all sugars (especially including agave), and gluten. Hope this helps!

    • Jester98 profile image


      6 years ago

      What is your diet like? I know a lot of people who were able to make half your symptoms non existent by cleaning up there diet. More specifically following a paleo type diet. If you have not tried you should look into it. Keep a food journal as well and take a look at when you have flare ups. Then you can cross check with the foods you ate in the last 4-6 hours to see if some of the food you are eating is actually doing this to you.

      I am a true believer that half the issues out there are diet related. The pharma companies live the Standard American Diet.

    • 2patricias profile image


      6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      I've voted this UP, and I hope that it will be read by many people.

      Both of us Patricias are great believers in univeral health care. We live in England, where many people complain about the NHS - but they don't know how bad things could be.

      I have lived in the USA, and visit frequently. When I was there last year I heard some people complaining vehemently about the Obamacare legislation. One man said that as far as he was concerned, Obama was the same as Hitler, because the health insurance legislation robbed people of having a choice about health care. I was very shocked - and wondered if he really knew about Hitler.

      Reading your Hub, it crossed my mind that you don't have much of a choice about health care. The way I see it, in the USA, the poor have very few choices.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      So, some folks think we don't need public health care? Thanks for sharing and I will share your story!

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 

      6 years ago from The Shire

      Song, as a small business owner I understand exactly where you are. Private health insurance is insanely expensive, and if you have a pre-existing condition, you can just forget it. As a country we're going to have to get a handle on this ridiculous health insurance situation somehow.

      You might try asking your rheumy to apply to the drug manufacturer for free meds. Some of them have programs for this. If you qualify, I think you can get a 90-day's supply at a time at reduced cost, or free.

      I'm sorry you're having such a hard time and wish you better days soon.

    • thebiologyofleah profile image

      Leah Kennedy-Jangraw 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      The health insurance situation in this country is so sad. I just recently went through a period unemployment and it is insane the amount of money they expect unemployed people to pay for COBRA.

      In terms of your TMJ, I grind my teeth at night and wear inexpensive nightguards you can get at most pharmacies, walmart etc. They heat up in hot water to mold to your mouth. They cut down on my headaches and even my dentist recommended I try them first because the mouth guards they make are so expensive. It's worth a try for your TMJ.

      Good luck with everything!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Songoftruth - thank you for writing what must have been a difficult hub, reflecting all the difficulties you face and suffering you endure because you cannot afford insurance.

      As TIMETRAVELER2 said, "you are the exact person Obamacare was intended for." With any national health care plan or one payer system this would not be happening. You would not be exhausted trying to piece together barely adequate medical care.

      And it is happening to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are willing to work and through no fault of their own cannot obtain affordable insurance. The DEBATE in America is not about FREE is about AFFORDABLE Healthcare.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I hope your situation improves. Blessings. SHARING

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      6 years ago from USA

      You are the exact person Obamacare was made for! People keep fighting against it, but it would help so many people. I am so sorry for your situation and understand completely as I suffer from some of the same problems you are having. If your husband could find a job with your local school board doing anything he could get inexpensive coverage for both of you that would exclude pre existing conditions. That or any government job would provide the same type of healthcare for you. Good luck and God Bless.


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