Whether or Not I Make a Difference

Healthcare is one of the big topics on people’s minds with The House of Representatives voting on the bill this week. I decided that it was time to write my Representative even though he has stated that he will be voting against the bill. It is difficult living in a state that is so red that it feels like your vote doesn’t matter, but I refuse the believe that I can’t make a difference. While many of my peers choose to stay home on election day because they feel it is futile to even vote, I still go out and cast my ballot because I feel that if enough of us do it, we will eventually not be one of the most republican states. We could even one day become one the swing states that the democrat candidates feel worth while to visit on their speaking tours. I know that it’s a long shot, but I refuse to believe that my opinion doesn’t matter just because I’m part of the minority.

I also wrote Congressman Jim Matheson. He is not my Representative, but he is still deciding which way to vote on the bill. I hope that my letter to him will help him decide—even though I don’t vote on whether or not he makes it back into The House.

Here is my letter to Congressman Bishop:

Congressman Bishop,

First off, I know that you have already stated that you’re going to vote “no” on the healthcare bill. I also realize that one constituent is not likely going to change your mind. Still, I want your conscious to know what you’re voting against.

I am 21 years old, married, and I have a daughter who is turning one this week. I was lucky enough to grow up with great insurance. I never knew what it was like to not go to the doctor when I had a cough or to deal with aliments because it costs too much money to do otherwise.
That all changed when I got married. Since we were both students and it would cost more than tuition each semester to get the mediocre and supposedly inexpensive health coverage our schools offered, we had to go without insurance. Luckily, when I was pregnant I qualified for Medicaid, but two months after my daughter was born I no longer did.

Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t have been able to afford going to the doctor for my prenatal care. I would have never found out that I was Strep B positive (a common condition in pregnant women) and my daughter wouldn’t have been able to be monitored after birth to make sure she hadn’t been exposed to the bacteria—which is often life-threatening in newborns. One year later, I still suffer from pregnancy and birth related ailments. Sadly, none of these conditions became a problem until after I was no longer covered by Medicaid. I’m not going to get into the gory details, but I shouldn’t have to cry every time I make a bowel movement.

My husband has been without health insurance for over two years. I am happy to say that he is a healthy man, but when he was ill and vomited five times within 24 hours, we didn’t take him to the doctor. It wasn’t until three weeks after that when he still felt so nauseous every day that he couldn’t even move that we took him in. It turned out that his body couldn’t quite recover from such a bad stomach illness and he needed to take medicine for a few weeks. Even with the doctor being mindful of our lack of insurance (which I was very grateful for), it still cost us over 100 dollars to get him treated. I realize that 100 dollars probably doesn’t seem like much to you, but when you’re living off of student loans, it’s devastating.

We are very lucky that our daughter qualifies for Medicaid—which I might add is by definition socialized healthcare. Without Medicaid, I have no idea how we would have afforded all of the check-ups that are required for a baby within the first year of their life. While trying to figure out my daughter’s vaccine schedule, I was amazed to find out that Medicaid patients at our pediatrician’s office get a different set of vaccine brands than non-Medicaid patients. While they are the same vaccines, the ones allowed by Medicaid have higher levels of aluminum and therefore—in my mind—are less safe. The reasoning behind the different vaccines? They’re cheaper.

My husband graduated last semester and got a job a few weeks ago. Once he has been working there for three months, he will have the chance to sign on for medical insurance. I guess we’re considered some of the “lucky ones” to even get that chance at all. With our Medicaid review up at the end of this month, I am almost sure that the 30,000 dollars a year gross that my husband is making is too much for my daughter to qualify. This means that we will likely go two months where my daughter also does not have insurance.

Even after those three months are up, we’re expecting to pay at least 200 dollars a month to get medical coverage for all three of us. Once again, I don’t know if you would consider 200 dollars a month to be much, but for a single-income family that is quite a bit. That 200 dollars a month prevents us from moving out of my in-laws’ basement. That 200 dollars a month causes us to go in the deficit every month when I do our budget. Yet, without that 200 dollars a month, we are one major illness away from bankruptcy—and that’s assuming that 200 dollars a month actually covers enough of the costs of that major illness to prevent our financial ruin.

Once again, I realize these words are unlikely to change your mind. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to live without medical insurance, but I’m hoping that this gives you a small insight into what it’s like to have the constant fear of getting sick and having it ruin you financially. I also understand that you probably don’t support this bill because of the extra money it will tack onto our country’s deficit. If you don’t think my health is worth that money, so be it, but I thought you should know what you are voting against when you vote “no” this week.

Sincerely,


Claire Lindstrom

And my letter to Congressman Matheson:

Congressman Matheson,

I am not a constituent in your district. I am in the First District of Utah and my Representative is Congressman Rob Bishop. That said, I know that you are still on the fence about whether to vote “yes” or “no” to the healthcare bill this week. I have attached a copy of my letter I wrote to Congressman Bishop in hopes that it helps you make your decision. While I do not live in your district, I am still a Utahn without health insurance. I am sure that many of your constituents are in a similar position to mine and I know that many people don’t choose to write their Congressman. I hope that my story helps you to make a your decision.

Sincerely,


Claire Lindstrom

Go write your Congressman. Be passionate about your opinions—even if it’s futile—because one day it won’t be.

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11 thoughts on “Whether or Not I Make a Difference

  1. That’s a great letter. You’re probably on some of the same email lists that I am, but if not, I recently got an email (no idea which list!) saying that the Dems (it specifically said Nancy Pelosi) are still collecting people’s stories. You should send this in. The part about losing the baby’s insurance because your husband got a job is particularly illustrative of how screwed up our system is.

  2. I am so proud of you for writing this letter!
    I loved this line:
    “I realize that 100 dollars probably doesn’t seem like much to you, but when you’re living off of student loans, it’s devastating.”
    Sometimes it’s the simple details that can make things crystal clear.
    Wow, I am glad Peanut is covered- I never thought about what kids do- so all children in US are covered? Until what age?

  3. Great letter. I have always felt SO lucky to be a Canadian and could never understand why so many Americans are so against a health care system that benefits everyone. Not saying that our system is perfect, but at least I can go to the doctor without concerns about the costs. To me health care is like education – a basic right that should be provided for all, at the very least to a certain age and while still in school. I certainly hope your letter helps and that the bill (or something) goes through.

  4. I’m glad you wrote your Congressman, even though indisagree with you on healthcare (I’m primarily opposed to forcing people to pay into a system that funds abortions regardless of whether those people feel abortion is murder. Without getting into a big abortion debate, I think it is pretty much always wrong to force anyone to pay for something they believe is immoral. I also feel that removing state line restrictions and enacting tort reform would increase competitiveness amongst insurers and decrease prices accordingly). But I am like your political opposite-my Congressman is a Democrat who is very liberal and very passionate about healthcare. So my letters to him are also futile. Maybe we should trade congressmen…

  5. 1. Getting pregnant / having children is not a right. Perhaps you should have considered the costs before doing so.
    2. Going to school is definitely not a right. Perhaps you should have weighed and considered and planned for the consequences.
    3. Most of the time, having a cough is not a good reason for you, or anyone else to spend 200.00+ per hour of your, or taxpayers’, money on care from an expensive doctor.
    4. The survival of your child is not the concern of everybody, perhaps you could have gotten a different job that pays more nicely prior to getting pregnant? There are people who work in factories to be able to pay for things; factory work sucks, but it can pay nicely (20+.00 per hour in many cases) some people will do what it takes. Those people should be rewarded.

    Passion and caring about other people is entirely separate from many folks’ pocketbooks, and how they (logically) decide to spend their (our) money.

    You can tell some people (myself included), all your sob stories about how you made bad decisions and ended up on the skids (i.e. having to have the state / taxes pay for the birth of your child), and we will feel nothing at all whatsoever, because we feel we have made wise decisions and considered actions independently of emotion. People (banks and individuals alike) MUST consider consequences prior to acting.

    Please don’t give up — if you believe in something… You have taught me something, and I hope you will listen to what I have to say, and learn from it as well.

    One book you might consider reading if you are interested in an alternative perspective is Ben Franklin’s Autobiography — it does a good job of laying out values that are distinctly American and beneficial to individuals and communities.

    • I believe that having children and bettering myself through school are rights.

      That said, I did not plan to get pregnant. So I should have had an abortion and suffered mentally just because I couldn’t afford her health care at that time? That schooling that I’m going to, it’s helping me to ensure that I will be able to afford her health care and everything else she needs in the future. I shouldn’t be able to do that because it makes me poor for a while? Guess what, I will be making more than that factory job could ever give me a few years from now and will be putting money back into the system that I took money from—more than I ever took out to begin with.

      You taught me something too—how selfish and indecent people can be on the internet. Thanks for that!

      • This is where modern conservatism fails.

        You tell a liberal “Stop being poor!” you’ll get “It sucks being poor and you’re an asshole conservative!” back. This cycle will continue on.

        What conservatives need to do is at least try to be more logical, instead of attacking. Logic is what we’re known for.

        Not all conservatives are assholes.

        Meanwhile, what’s wrong with charities?

  6. I really liked your letter. I thought it was specific and a great reminder of the real stories out there of people without healthcare. I wrote some of my own, because we’re self-employed and have crappy health insurance that we have to pay for, so basically we just never go to the doctor if we can avoid it. This plan can’t work forever, of course.

    I don’t get people who come to sites just to be mean (and anonymous & therefore cowardly). Whaddya think Banksy is nice and rich and thinks therefore no one else’s concerns are any concern of his? I don’t get the whole “your baby isn’t my problem” argument, but then — I’m a bleeding-heart liberal.

    Anyway, yea for the start of health care reform! Here’s hoping it gets even better.

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