It was 10 p.m., and I wanted to wash dishes before going to bed. A simple task, I hadn’t let them pile up as I do in my low-energy weeks (depression).
So as Murphy would have it, there was a cracked glass that broke and sliced my little finger open. OUCH!
I got my husband and got into the bathroom for first aid, but the cut was too deep. We did the responsible thing and went to the emergency room. (At that late hour, there is no urgent-care clinic open in Topeka.)
In about an hour, I had three stitches and a splint to keep from bumping the injury, not bad service for a Saturday night. We do have an employer-provided family insurance plan, so that may have sped up my process, but it certainly didn’t foot the bill. I owe $1,500.00.
Hospitals have clearly stated that they are forced to offset costs of care, such as $22 for an aspirin, because there are too many uninsured patients needing immediate medical care.
Humans are not “health care consumers.”
Health care — head-to-toe and birth-to-death — is a human need. About 140 million people in our nation are poor. The divide between the have's and have-not's is so wide that those who do have do not comprehend what it is to have-not.
We the Poor already do not buy lattes, often skip lunch and eat a lot of rice. We buy our clothes at the thrift store. IF we splurge on new clothes, it’s only from the clearance rack. We do not buy bulk because we do not have the disposable income for this kind of large purchase. We were minimalists before it was trendy, and we’re going to find stuff for free any damn way we can.
Sen. Denning’s suggestion of $50 monthly co-pay for Medicaid is stealing our gas money to get back and forth to work. That amount a month is half of our water bill.
I owe $500 for each stitch because I needed a professional to do the task to keep me healthy and well. It is obscene, and it is because Kansas has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. We the Poor do not have that kind of cash on hand. Previous generations had good health and long life because of publicly supported hospitals and health clinics.
Over the decades, as we’ve reduced taxes on the wealthy, it has hurt the public. Republicans in support of Sens. Denning and Wagle would do well to support a single-payer plan for Kansas if they honestly want to pursue this path of making everyone pay in to health care. It would be cheaper to the state, but we’ll also have to raise taxes on the billionaires.
It won’t hurt their bottom line, and it can repair our state’s current debacle. Fight poverty not the poor!
Mary Akerstrom, of Topeka, is an active member of the Poor People’s Campaign.