H is for Health insurance and History (mine)

When I moved from Schenectady to Albany in 1979, it was, in large part, to go to graduate school at the University at Albany (which may have been called SUNY Albany at the time – I forget) in the School of Public Administration.

A few days before the semester began, I went to a very nice party outdoors at a friend’s house, where I was walking in the grass with bare feet. A few days later, one of my toes on my left foot started to hurt, at first just a bit, but eventually so badly, I thought I ought to go to a doctor. BUT I didn’t have insurance, and I WOULD in a couple days, when I registered for classes. (Also, at that point, I didn’t even have a primary care physician, so it would have been a function of picking randomly from the phone book Yellow Pages.)

I sucked it up and somehow got through college registration, in tremendous pain. If someone had offered a wheelchair, instead of the single crutch I was using from a previous injury, I surely would have used it. That and/or whiskey. While the pain when sitting was great, the pain when standing/hobbling on one leg was almost unbearable.

Finally, I somehow made it to the college infirmary; it seemed so very far away. The doctor gave a very brief look at my foot and immediately sent me to bed at the infirmary. Seems that I got an infection beneath my toenail, it was going up my foot, and if it made it to my heart, it would have, literally, killed me. I spent the next six days in the infirmary.

This meant I was a week behind in classes, both academically and socially, from the get-go. I never caught up.

This meant two fundamental things in my life:
1) I dropped out of grad school, and ended up working at a comic book store for eight and a half years.
2) I became an ardent supporter of universal health care coverage.

It’s interesting how an initially tiny pain in the foot can have life-changing consequences.

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

21 thoughts on “H is for Health insurance and History (mine)”

  1. Close one, Roger! I sure hope the USA gets better universal health care. I never hear of them looking towards Canada as an example and hope they will. And other countries, too. We do have to pay a premium but compared to not having any insurance at all, it’s worth it. A single person pays $64.00 per month and you can get extended health benefits through your work or privately. No one is ever turned away at an emergency department in the hospital either.
    PS: It’s a myth that it’s free in Canada, unless you’re poor that is.

    abcw team


  2. Health insurance is very important. We have to be registrated with an insurance company in my country. I sincerely hope that president Obama gets what he wanted in this respect. There are people however, who never go to the doctor’s and you can see by their missing teeth and bad condition of their bodies that they are very poor and spend their money on the wrong things.They are usually homeless, jobless people who are not fit to help themselves
    Good post, Roger!
    Wil, ABCW Team


  3. What a terrible thing to happen. There are so many health problems that begin small and if treated aren’t a big deal but can end in death if left untreated. I am also a firm believer in universal health care coverage. Carver, ABC Wed. Team


  4. Canada’s Health Care is not the most efficient, – sometimes you have to wait many months or years for elective surgery, but it is surely wonderful in an emergency, and nobody is ever turned away!


  5. Guess I’m the only one that doesn’t agree with Universal Health Care, but then we do have freedom to have different opinions. Won’t go into the details of why I feel this way. But, I’m trying to be bolder in my sharing my feelings, as I’m such a “people pleaser” it easy for me to go with the flow.
    In regards to your injury..that is so scary. So glad you got the help you needed and it made a life changer for you. We had a neighbor years ago that had a pain in his foot, moved up his leg and he was unable to walk. Guess what? It was an infected tooth, and when the tooth was pulled, the leg problem ended. Crazy thing…the tooth didn’t hurt!!!


  6. It’s interesting that I am following Wanda on your comments. I think she could have written my comment right down to being a “people Pleaser”.
    Great post Roger and I am glad you got to see the doctor in time. The alternative wasn’t a good one.


  7. I am sometimes tempted not to buy health insurance when I travel (I mean on jets that cross the Atlantic). Okay now I will thanks to your post. Working in a comic book store does not sound so bad.


  8. Health is so precious and needs priority!! A dreadful thing to happen but yes, You lose some to gain some 😉 The comic book store is where you may have developed your extremely good sense of humor ROG!! And we all love it!!


  9. As a widow in my middle 50s with a low but steady income and at least 6 years until Social Security kicks in (if nothing changes on that front) I am at best ambivalent about the new healthcare act. I is going to force me into the Medi-Cal system in California ( that is Medicaid/welfare in this state).
    I do not want to be in that system, I am not indigent, illegal or destitute, my income, which is comfortable for me from day to day is below the level the Healthcare act begins to require payment.

    You may think Hey! that should be great free healthcare…not so!
    I have checked and I will not even be allowed to “buy-up” into the lowest level of Bronze care, a level where I could choose a doctor locally and not feel like a 3rd class citizen. The county medi-cal hospital is 30+ miles away and so overcrowded now that people have huge waits even for ER care. How will they handle ten thousand more patients?

    Here is what will really happen: the government will place me in a category of their choice, not mine and I will be “covered” on paper.
    If I fall ill I will end up calling around to find a doctor’s office that accepts cash and pay for care each time it is rendered just like I have been for the last few years.
    Most of the time I just don’t see a doctor and deal with coughs/colds/fevers as if it were the early 1800s…treating symptoms myself.
    Unfortunately for the big drug companies this works very well!


    1. Janis (and others) – I dont think Obamacare was what I was looking for. The single-payer option, which I had supported, went off the table early, and it’s a weak compromise.


  10. Yes, a bad experience in Spain we have totally free universal assistance having Spanish nationality. Hopefully we do not lose this right that you worked hard!


  11. Here, one only needs cash to see a doctor, we don’t need a medical insurance for that. Unless it’s for hospitalization and surgery, we can tapped into our Medishield fund which are deducted from the salary.


  12. That one episode did change the future for you, but in the end I hope you enjoyed your working years.
    I’m so concerned about the new health care to come–so many doctors I have spoke to are also not happy-even though you see doctors on TV saying it will be great!


  13. Difficult to understand for me as we have a very goodnational health insurance taking care of everybody. The price for that is included in your net salary. Everybody is insured. It also counts when I am abroad.


  14. I have lived under healthcare in Britain, Canada and the US. Sadly it all comes down to money or quality of care. Our health insurance is very expensive and we tend to go only if necessary. My dental care is of enormous concern. We have no dental insurance. My teeth are in bad shape and we have already spent about $10,000 on them this year and that’s coming out of our retirement savings!


  15. Oh, wow, Roger, what a story. I’m so sorry you had to drop out of grad school. I’m sure plenty of people would think working at a comic book store to be the ambition of a lifetime, but I’m also sure it wasn’t that way for you.
    Canadians don’t have the complete coverage offered for so many years in Britain, but we are very fortunate to have provincial health care plans. I have been sent to so many doctors, including many different specialists, in my lifetime, I can’t begin to imagine what the cost would be. Although I was covered for dental costs when I was working, I wasn’t after I got sick, so that is a whole ‘nother story.
    Unlike the health insurance Gattina mentions in Belgium, ours does not cover all the costs when we’re away, so we purchase travel policies separately.
    An excellent choice for the letter H, and one which we will never forget. I’m sure the others will agree we don’t like to think of “our” Roger’s life endangered like that.


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