Health care hits home

I’ve been trying to come up with something light and cute to write about, but my spirits have been too low lately to write a humorous story. I’ve written quite a bit for the local newspaper and library blog, but that’s about the extent of my writing impulse lately. However, I finally HAVE gotten the initiative to write to politicians about my views on health care reform now that I’m confronting a potential health problem. It took me quite awhile, and I’d like to post SOMETHING this week, so here it is:

My name is Rebecca White Body, and I would like to express my support for the Affordable Care Act. While I understand that there are many problematic aspects, I truly appreciate the efforts of all politicians who expend their political capital tackling this complicated issue. I would also like to share my story to make the point that not all people in need of subsidized insurance are irresponsible with money and with their own personal health.

I was a high school teacher for 12 years at one of the lowest paid districts in the state. I didn’t make much money, but I was dedicated to my job and students. However, after Governor Walker took office, the rising health insurance premiums and deductibles meant that about a third of each paycheck went to keeping my one healthy child in daycare, even though I was working 50-60 hour weeks, and I didn’t dare actually GO to a doctor since the deductible was the equivalent of 6 weeks of pay. I finally decided that the stress and financial anxiety just weren’t worth it, so I left my teaching job.

I don’t regret that decision, since it allowed me to care for my son when he began Four-Year-Old Kindergarten; I had no other local daycare options available at the time, so I don’t know what else I could have done. However, I quickly found that health care costs were crushing my family. My husband is a mechanic who works for hourly wages; I work three part time jobs. I have no employer based insurance and, while my husband theoretically does, it would cost 50% of his income, leaving us very little to live on.

I applied for Badger Care for my family and was denied for reasons that are unclear to me. Then I applied only on behalf of my son–only for health insurance, although the initial questionnaire estimated that we were eligible for several other aid programs–and was again denied for reasons that were unclear to me. I gave up on Badger Care and purchased a high deductible State Farm policy in the hope that I would have a good job with benefits by the time it expired.

I was wrong. I sent out application after application, but the only jobs I’ve been offered have been temporary, low-paying, and part time; none offer benefits. That seems to be the new economy: Almost everyone I know struggles to scratch together a living from multiple low paying sources, and out-of-pocket health insurance costs are prohibitively expensive. Premiums on our initial policy went up $800 for the same high deductible coverage, rendering it unaffordable. We currently have a temporary month-to-month policy with a similar deductible, but we can only keep it for six months.

I don’t dare actually visit a doctor, even for a wellness check, because I can’t afford the deductible if any problems were found, and I’m afraid I’d have trouble finding another policy should the doctor identify a medical problem if the Republicans get their way and overturn “Obamacare.”

A nurse friend who hadn’t seen me for several months expressed concern upon visiting when she saw a large blemish on my face, observing it might be cancerous, but I can’t see a dermatologist because of the aforementioned concerns.

When Republicans talk about the “freedom” the Affordable Care Act undermines and blame it for preventing people from seeing their preferred doctors, I would like to emphasize that under the status quo, the free market is what prevents me from seeing any doctor at all. I live in constant fear now, and until health care reform becomes a reality, I’ll continue to live that way.

That’s why I’d like to thank all politicians who support reform efforts and emphasize to those who don’t that many of us who work for a living truly need them.

Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.


Rebecca White Body



  1. Healthcare is such a frustrating topic on so many levels. Even when you do have it and then have the audacity to use it, the insurance companies often battle you on every count telling you what care you’re “allowed” to have, even when you’re the one paying for it, thanks to the staggering deductible. It puts enough stress on you to create more health problems, bringing the element of irony full circle.
    And I hear you about the backbreaking hours of teaching. Whoever said that teachers get off work at 3 every day has obviously never spoken to a real teacher.

    1. Aha–I thought you of all people would relate to the mention of the long hours that teaching requires, especially for English. (Hmm, 50 essays to grade at 5-10 minutes each; one doesn’t have to be a math teacher to realize that your 45 minute prep is NOT enough for getting everything done…) I can’t say I miss that aspect of teaching, although I do miss some of my kids, and I’m looking forward to teaching 2 hour After-School Program classes that are blessedly free of homework starting in October. That said, I really am frustrated by the health insurance situation, although I’m glad to say I haven’t faced the kind of battles with insurance companies you mentioned. I adopted the strategy of simply not setting foot in any kind of medical clinic except once for my son’s kindergarten physical (which my high-deductible policy paid for without objection, thank goodness, so it’s like only paying $3900 for this otherwise unused piece of paper–what a deal!). That said, I hope that you’re currently in good health and that no insurance companies are campaigning to undermine aforementioned good health. Thanks again for your posts; I always look forward to reading them, and your French photos are bringing back fond memories. Au revoir, mon amie! > Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2013 20:40:16 +0000 > To: >

  2. Beautifully written, my friend.

    1. Thank you! I hope all is well with you and that you’re still a happily glowing newlywed. (Glowing from bliss and not barely repressed rage, that is, although I suppose all good marriages have their fair share of both…) > Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2013 04:16:29 +0000 > To: >

  3. This post is so earnest and well-written, I think it should go somewhere else, especially to people in decision-making positions. The newspaper? A like-minded politician, a “health-concerns” blog?

    1. Thanks; I’m glad you liked it! I did indeed send it to assorted Wisconsin politicians, so I’m feeling a bit better about my previous political apathy. I’m a little ashamed that it took such a personal impact to get me fired up about an issue, but I’m hoping that by starting to write to politicians, I’m taking baby steps to making more of a contribution to society. While I’m doing that, I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for your posts; I really enjoy them! > Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2013 18:33:21 +0000 > To: >

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