My health insurance experience yesterday

I went to a state office yesterday. Going to state run public service offices is like going to the dentist for me. No fun.

But what a wonderful experience I had!

First, which I considered a very bad sign, I had called these people on the phone to ask why my application was being rejected on their website.

The person on the phone asked me a lot of questions, the last being whether I had "Windows" or whether I was working from "an Apple product". I said I have an Apple laptop, but that it's only two years old and I never have trouble working on line with it.

She said that the state run website for applying for health insurance is not "Apple friendly" and works best with Windows. She advised I make an appointment, come in to her office, and apply on line with her help on her office computer.

Wow. Well, here we go. 

So I went in yesterday. There were some people ahead of me finishing their appointments. None of them spoke English as their first language and none of them looked like they were prospering in their current circumstances.

I had a happy hour show and had to be at the venue by 4pm so I was dressed for my performance. No, I was not wearing my tutu skirt, but I was wearing my black slip dress with the silver bugle bead trim and a "heartbreaker tour" t shirt, black tights and rocker boots, my favorite camouflage jacket, and a black beret, black eye liner and mod pink lipstick.

I thought to myself that I was about to be treated badly. I thought to myself, "these women work for the poor and the dispossessed. They don't want to see some able bodied woman like me coming in here looking sassy and scamming the state run health care system. Claiming that I'm a full time artist is not going to inspire sympathy."

Well, so, I sat down across from the desk of a very beautiful young black woman with an exotic name and a foreign (to me) accent. She was very kind, very dignified, very compassionate.

What do they say is an indication of a person's character? It's something about if you can treat everyone you encounter with the same respect regardless of how much higher or lower than you they appear to be, and regardless of what they can do for you, then your character is pure.

The young woman who helped me at the health insurance office treated me with understanding. She first said that she liked my outfit. I said, "Thanks. I like your hairstyle." Her long black hair was piled into a high heavy coil and twisted into a braided bun. It was gorgeous.

Then she explained that she needed to ask me several questions to see f I was going to be eligible for their health care options.

The first question she asked, and probably not the first question she usually asks, was "Are you self-employed working in a creative field?"

Ha! Wonderful! She had already made this easier for me. I smiled and told her how three years ago I had decided to make my art projects and performances my way of living. I explained that I considered it an entrepreneurial venture and that I invested every last cent I had, hoping it would all perfectly dovetail into financial success just as my savings was running out. But alas, I was only now beginning to see a trickle of a "profit" on my efforts. Although I had earned $25,000.00 from my music and writings in 2017, my touring and album production costs had come to almost the same amount. The line they care about on your US tax form 1040 is line 37. My line 37 "adjusted income after expenses" for last year was $1016.00. Full disclosure, I received donations all year from fans and supporters, to the tune of another $15,000.00 but the IRS doesn't consider the donations through to be "income".

So, I qualified and starting pro-dated to April 1st, 2018, I now have health care provided by MNsure. If I start making a real profit I will no longer qualify. I hope I make a livable profit starting this year! I hope I don't qualify next year! But in the meantime, it's a game changer for me because I have asthma, I take medication every day and the inhaler I use costs over $100 for a month's supply without health insurance. On my new plan, my inhaler is $3.00 each month. My health insurance I had purchased for myself for the past ten years was now up to $440.00 per month for the premiums. So with my medications I was paying over $500.00 a month.

I wonder how you feel about this as you read it. Maybe if you are a Europe friend or fan you are thinking that it's ridiculous that we even have to do things this way in America. Maybe if you are American you are thinking the same. Or maybe you are thinking that someone like me should go get a "real job" that has health care benefits.

Please comment as you wish.

I will say that I used to think that if I hadn't "succeeded" as an artist by now that I would go get a full time teaching job. Now I'm not sure that I could get myself hired at this point in my life, and I'm not sure I could actually do the job well. I've become what I've become. I feel like I am now the unique product of all of my touring and performing, of all my personal efforts to wear my inside on the outside. I don't think I could pull myself together enough to fit into a system now. 

I love my life. I'm grateful to have the freedom to make things that I believe are of value and inspiration to others. I like that I feel like a contributing member of society, but contributing what I feel is the best use of what I am as a person, with all pistons firing. 

I'm working the hardest I've ever worked in my life.

Do I deserve nearly free health care?

I don't know, but I'm damn glad to have it.



Courtney April 26, 2018 @07:26 pm
Thanks for the positive feedback Cari and Jeff. I’m feeling good about the whole thing today!
Cari April 26, 2018 @11:24 am
Your story and the stories of many creative people I know are perfect examples of why “universal basic income” is an excellent idea for societies.
Jeff Parkman April 26, 2018 @10:24 am
Glad you got it. Maybe this will help you unleash even more of your creativity and talent!
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