What it's like to be uninsured

When I was in second grade, I got health insurance for the first time. I remember my parents—with looks on their faces somewhere between proud and relieved—telling me that it was now totally okay to fall out of a tree and break my arm. Frankly, that didn't sound like much fun, so I never took my parents up on the offer.

It's only years later, as an adult, that I really understand the significance of that event. I honestly have no idea how my parents paid for the regular preventative check-up appointments I remember going to. I have no idea how they paid for the time I smashed my finger between the hinges of a door and ended up in the hospital. The fact that those things happened, at a time when we had very, very little money and no insurance, gives me a little bit of a retroactive sense of budget vertigo. Did my parents lose sleep over this stuff? In all likelihood, yes. It's a wonder I was allowed to climb trees at all.

Since I was a kid, the costs of healthcare—and the cost of insurance—have increased dramatically. And that's widened the gap that people fall into, when they make too much for Medicaid, but can't afford insurance. When I was uninsured, my mother was a home daycare provider and my father was a bartender. Today, it's perfectly possible to have a Ph.D., have a decently paying professional job, and still have to make some terrifying budgetary decisions that leave you and your children without health insurance. Read the rest