I am one of the 280,000 Tennesseans without healthcare insurance. When I think about the new mandatory healthcare laws, I feel completely overwhelmed and frustrated. KR just went to get his taxes done today. Even though we’re not married, he is allowed to claim me on his taxes since the burden of my existence falls on his shoulders. No, he wouldn’t put it quite that way; but it’s how I feel. He was charged a $160 penalty fee because I have no healthcare insurance. Tennessee is one of the states that chose not to expand Medicaid for its low-income residents. As it is now, I was told that only women who are pregnant or who have cervical cancer qualify for Medicaid (TennCare). I’m ineligible. Hell, so is every man in the state because there are apparently NO options for men to receive Medicaid at all.
Basically, low-income individuals have no affordable options for healthcare in the state of Tennessee. Recently, Gov. Bill Haslam proposed a bill that would “extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.” Even had Haslam’s “Insure Tennessee” proposal passed (Why does the Koch Group want me and 279,999 others dead?), I doubt that it would have helped me. You still have to be able to pay the copays and premiums.
I’ve been unemployed for close to 10 years. I’m not proud of that fact. Quite frankly, I’m ashamed to admit it despite my struggle with mental illness. For 5 of those years, I was on SSDI, disabled due to severe mental illness, with Medicare coverage. Even when I was on Medicare, I couldn’t afford to use it. That’s around the time that I realized healthcare is simply not an option for me. I came to the conclusion long ago that hospitals and doctor visits are for rich and people who are afraid to die. The rest of us are forced to suffer through life and die without a fight. We’re not even offered the option of humane euthanasia when the suffering becomes too much.
“Life’s not fair. Get over it.” My sister’s words echo in my mind from so long ago. “Everyone has to work.” A neighbor’s words echo in my mind. “Sounds like you should just get a job.” My therapist’s words echo in my mind from that final visit about a month ago. I’m still ruminating on what I did wrong to push another therapist away.
I “get” part of the reason, though. I only had the “Behavioral Health Safety Net of Tennessee” to cover my mental health treatment. It’s difficult to find counselors who accept this form of payment. My guess is that the reason for this is that being a state-funded program, the payout to counselors must be a fraction of what they would normally receive from other types of healthcare insurance or clients paying out-of-pocket. The rate of payment from what I can find online appears to be $61.50 per 60 minute session. That doesn’t sound too bad; but considering the going rate for most therapists nowadays is anywhere from $75 to $200 (or more), well, lets just say that anyone using this form of payment wouldn’t exactly be the most desirable of clients. In effect we’re worth less. I am worth less. I struggle to accept that different rules apply for different people simply because they’re worth more “monetarily.” This would also explain why I only saw my last counselor once per month rather than the usual weekly or bi-monthly appointments that I had with past therapists. I was also told that this particular counselor no longer takes clients using the Safety Net for payment. No doubt he was eager to “finish up” with the ones of us he already had.
All of this is beside the point, now. I’m not allowed to be content being a “homemaker.” Unless I work outside the home and actually earn money, I’m worth nothing to society. No income is no excuse. Pay up or get out or in this case, die.