Emma K

Arriving home from school on what seemed like a typical afternoon, I sensed that something was wrong when I saw my parents’ worried expressions. Thousands of thoughts flew through my head regarding every close relative and friend I could summon into my thoughts on short notice. I sat down at the kitchen table and asked what was wrong. I nervously tapped my feet and bit my lip for what seemed like an eternity until finally they were able to explain. My oldest brother, Charlie, was in the hospital. He was suffering from a collapsed lung. It sounded life-threatening to me; I had never heard of such a thing. Having suffered from asthma since he was a toddler, I assumed the worst. Quickly, my parents reassured me he would be fine, but they were very concerned about the medical expenses he was about to incur.

Charlie recently graduated in May of 2016 from Missouri State University in Springfield. Graduating in the top of his class, he strived for success and excellence. He was extremely eager to enter the real world. Hewlett Packard hired him on the spot to join their team as an IT Engineer in Austin, Texas. He was beginning to financially wean off of our parents. He moved to a new apartment, switched to his own bank account and phone plan, and initiated the process of switching insurance companies. As most health issues are, the timing of his collapsed lung was nothing short of inconvenient. He panickingly called my mother in desperation of advice. He believed that his new insurance was not completely processed, but the extreme pain demanded immediate medical attention. My mother told him to visit the emergency room because at the end of the day, health is far more important than money. That afternoon, I recognized that there was a possibility that he did not have any insurance to cover the cost of an operation. Dreaded thoughts filled our minds as we realized the entire medical bill could potentially come out of our pocket.

The complexity of the medical procedure surprised us all. Young, thin males in their early twenties are most susceptible to collapsed lungs. Combined with his lifelong asthma, he was a prime candidate. His lung stretched unfortunately thin and a small piece of tissue burst open, exerting excruciating pain upon his chest. The doctors explained that a surgical operation would prevent the lung from bursting again. Despite our concern of the cost, we decided as a family that the operation was the best decision for his health. After a week of constant care, the surgical operation on the burst tissue of his lung, pain medication, and many more fees, the expenses totaled over $100,000. We frantically contacted his new insurance company while he recovered to discuss the status of his new medical insurance. We were hoping that the expenses would be covered. The weight of the world lifted off of our shoulders when the company told us that his insurance completed processing and was successfully issued. Luckily, we escaped the burden of an extremely expensive bill.

Prior to this event, I have never truly realized the importance of medical insurance. At the time of Charlie’s incident, we were still celebrating his graduation as he embarked on the next stage of his life. Suddenly we were worrying about how we would pay the hospital bill. The experience forced me to sit down and acknowledge the importance of insurance. Many American families, however, do not get off quite so lucky. They often struggle day to day without any form of insurance. According to a government census taken in 2014, 33 million citizens were reported to be uninsured. This was over 10% of the total population in the United States! When these families require medical attention, they must weigh all of the aspects. Without insurance, they have to pay outrageous prices for healthcare. Most citizens who do not carry insurance are already struggling financially, and therefore the cost of healthcare is too much to bear. They must choose between plunging into debt for doctor’s visits and medicine or leaving their ailments untreated for the sake of costs. I am eternally grateful to have medical insurance. I appreciate it even more now that I have observed the possibility of seeking medical assistance while uninsured. Hoping to enter the medical field one day myself, I will always hold this experience near and dear to my heart. My family was so lucky to have insurance for the hospital expenses, and I now truly understand and appreciate the true importance of insurance.

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