Friday, January 22, 2010

Make It. Without health insurance.

Through a series of unfortunate events--even though I've paid my $2 for my DMO the last few months--I can't go to a dentist until February. Problem is, I have a dental issue NOW. I'm going to fight with Aetna until it gets resolved (I have, after all, paid them $6), but while I sit hear with a tea bag packed in my mouth, I am reminded of that time not too long ago when I didn't have health insurance at all (because Tribune is a GREAT employer and this country is AWESOME). It's rough and you feel helpless. It makes you want to karate chop Scott Brown in the face. But there are ways to get by if you're done with googling "home remedies for..."

Planned Parenthood. Thank God for this place. They offer services for all reproductive health needs for both women AND men. They charge on a sliding scale and will have no problem loading you up with free birth control. I have had nothing but pleasant experiences here. However, they are in demand. Even with an appointment you often have to wait an hour or more to be seen.

While you're in your Planned Parenthood, you may hear people talking about their "teal card." They are actually talking about "Health Access Cards" which are issued by Family PACT (usually out of PPs). If you're uninsured and low income, you qualify for one and with it, the state of California will pay for a bunch of your health needs. The website refers specifically to "family planning," but when I had the card, I was able to get antibiotics for free, so I think the definition is loose. I'm pretty sure California covers other things as well, but just like all government websites, their site is atrocious. If you are able to navigate or extract any clear information from it though, I’d love to hear about it.

And finally, Urgent Care. Yes, they are scary and will still run you $40, but at least they will take care of you. And they will do it right now. I am lucky enough to have one right in my building and if you live near the Echo Park area, I would totally reccommend Sunmoon Urgent Care. The Yelp reviews are pretty accurate. It won't be the doctor's office of your dreams, but it will be efficient and painless. I was seen immediately on a Saturday morning, had my prescription filled in-house, and was back in bed within thirty minutes. Be warned that these places are usually CASH ONLY.

Since 46 million of us don't have health insurance, I'm interested to know: how do you receive medical care?

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit: Kaiser Foundation

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