“Congrats in your upcoming birthday” was the opening line to the most threatening congratulatory letter I’ve ever received (and probably the only). It was from my insurance company and due to my turning old, they were letting me know I’d no longer be medically covered by their services. A score and three years was far too old to still be latching on, their words said.
Instead, with my full time student salary, I could purchase my own minimalist plan at an affordable $250 per month. This was back before “Obamacare” had hit the shelves and reaching a certain age meant either mooching or going broke. Of course, just months later the new act would go into effect, but between my unfortunate birthing time and my mother’s place of work requiring a new fiscal year for repeat paperwork, I’d be without health coverage for the better part of a year.
Despite my previous set up covering minimal expenses, it still provided me with the illusion of security. Who cared if I’d broken my arm, caught diphtheria, or grown cancer? I had health insurance! Without it though, I jumped at each blatant cough or sneeze that clearly escaped its owner’s elbow. “Don’t get me sick,” I would yell at children, like some type of angry geezer. “I can’t afford it.”
Offsetting my time as an uninsured was a two-month stint in a foreign country. One where drinking laws were a formality and public trains zoom through cities without so much as a warning honk – a less than safe combination. But luckily for the Europeans (and my health), the study abroad program I’d enrolled in required overseas health coverage. (And let’s face it, when you’re already shelling out five figures, what’s a few more dollars tacked on?)
With just a single day’s flight, I went from having zero medical insurance, to an unlimited amount. I’m not sure how one measures amount of coverage – does it translate to metrics or inches? Can it be shown with a number of fruits? Say if I’d started out with zero fruits in the U.S., after my flight I’d gained a baker’s dozen fruit bushels. Basically, I could have chipped a tooth and made money off the injury.
With this knowledge in mind, the fast-moving trains were not my enemy, but rather a challenge. One that, should I have so chosen, could have been attacked in a drunken state. “Let’s see who gets out of whose way, train,” I would remark on my morning commute. I, of course, always won – meaning I was never hit by a train – thanks to the intense confidence that medical coverage can provide.
But after returning home, despite not needing any of my fruit bushels while away, they were taken from me. The apples had rotted, the bananas had gnats, and as I understand it, carrying produce overseas is a big no no, despite its condition. I was forced to leave it all behind.
Sure I once again have health insurance – until my next threatening birthday that is; self-employment does not include the benefit of group rates. But a period without floaties is enough to remove anyone from an already conservative lifestyle. No dangerous activities for me. Jumping out of planes is out; there’s no telling what type of expensive injury one could catch up there. SCUBA diving is just frivolous, while skiing seems like a gamble. After all, I learned the long (and not all that hard) way, healthcare doesn’t grow on trees.