Anyone who knows me knows that health insurance is my soapbox. More accurately, the difficulty of getting health insurance and lack of equal access to health care is my soapbox. SO MUCH TIME of the years I worked in homeless services was spent trying to secure access to health care for the men, women, and transpeople I worked with, so much difficulty and frustration was experienced, and so much hope was given up. I truly believe (though this is another rant) that if the United States had accessible, equal health care available to everyone, much of social services as we know it would be rendered obsolete. Think about it: much of homelessness can be attributed to illness, be it mental, addiction, or physical; many homeless individuals I met had been financially ruined by medical bills and lacked any resources; individuals who are able to look after their health will not strain other already belabored systems that have to play catch-up - schools, community programs, emergency rooms - places that were never intended to be crisis services, to solve problems outside the scope of their mission because those they serve have so many unmet needs.


Needing health insurance myself while in-between steady employment (not for lack of trying, however... my "resumes" folder is stuffed with nearly a hundred different documents for various jobs I've applied for) and because I have athsma, which has landed me in the hospital before, so I know it is life-threatening, I applied to the Oregon Health Plan. It seemed I met all their requirements; income, chronic, untreated illness, etc, etc. I sent the letter in late December and waited. I recieved a reply a couple of weeks back: denied. No reason was given, and, for me, this letter was more heartbreaking than a Dear John. I had pinned my dwindling hopes on surviving until I got insurance, hoping I wouldn't run out of my inhaler... I cried that night.


A couple of days ago I realized I was not alone. I was watching the news when a segment came on, announcing that 3,000 people had just been picked in a lottery and accepted to the Oregon Health Plan. Read about the details here. Ya, great... but... they also said that the lottery list contains 90,000 names (out of the 600,000 estimated uninsured in Oregon). The perky reporter said they planned to hold another lottery next month when another lucky 3,000 winners will be allowed to enroll and finally able to go see a doctor.


May we all stay alive until then.


Over and out.