My Insurance Is ‘Free,’ but My Health Pays for It
Cheney Meaghan

Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a sad testimony to the poor health of American’s healthcare system.

I very much relate to your situation. I’ve been trying to find a reasonably-priced alternative to the expensive offerings of the major insurance providers. I worry that I’ll have a similar access problem if I go with an alternative payer such as a short-term plan that doesn’t have a network. I’m 63, 14 months away from Medicare.

Like you, I was impoverished in my 30’s and I did not have health insurance. I could not afford it. I’m sure I qualified for PeachCare, the Georgia equivalent of Husky, but I didn’t know enough to apply. I did without basic healthcare and luckily had no medical emergencies.

I worked myself out of poverty by completing my degree and entering a professional career, but education seems like another broken system these days. Young people who take what used to be a reliable route out of poverty can no longer be confident of landing a job that pays well. On top of that, they’re saddled with monstrous debts that will impact their quality of life for years. College, was affordable when I started earning credit hours. For much of the time I was in school, I was able to pay for it as I went.

And I started in my 20’s when, like you, I was waiting tables. The combined annual income for my 2-person household was $36,000 in the early- and mid-70’s. My husband and I bought a house on that. It cost $36,000. Today, the median house price is almost $200,000 and the median household income is less than $60,000. Housing, obviously, is another broken system.

It’s a tough world for young Americans. I find myself looking forward to my 65th birthday when I’ll be eligible for Medicare the way I once looked forward to my 16th so I could drive. I hope your own solution, whatever it is, will soon make itself known to you. You’re smart and articulate and I can’t help but believe your future will be brighter. Here’s to your health.