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Life Without Health Insurance

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Life Without Health Insurance

On the afternoon of the election, I sat counting ceiling tiles at my local Planned Parenthood clinic.

“Have you ever been to a Planned Parenthood clinic before?” the receptionist asked me when I approached the front desk.

“No ma’am.”

“Please fill out these forms. All your information will be kept confidential.”

“Okay, thanks.”

I found a seat in the back corner of the waiting area and slowly raised my eyes to look around the crowded room. To my right, there was a young girl — maybe 15 or 16 years old — with her arms crossed rigidly over her chest. She was wearing fishnet stockings, a transparent black tank top, and dark eyeliner painted thickly along the lids under her eyes. I wondered why she was here. She looked too young for an annual pap smear.

I looked back down at the forms on my clipboard:

Name: Chelsea Roff

Birthdate: 7/30/1989

Insurance? No

To my right, I heard the door open again and in walked another woman — probably 35 — wearing lululemon pants and a long, flowy shirt that easily could have served as a dress. Her hair was dark and curly, her skin a sun-kissed bronze. She approached the reception desk timidly, her eyes darting rapidly around the room.

“I’m not an American citizen,” she said to the receptionist. Her accent sounded British… maybe South African. “Will they still see me?”

“Yes, of course, honey. Do you have an appointment?

“No.”

“Fill out these forms. We’ll get you in.”

I  looked back down at the clipboard in my lap, subconsciously breathing a sigh of relief for the woman at the desk. What was she here for? Emergency contraception? Abortion? STD test? Was she pregnant? I wondered if she had a national health care system in her country of origin, and thought about how frightening it would be to have a medical emergency happen and be so far from home.

Finishing my paperwork, I re-approached the reception desk, getting in line behind a mother-daughter couple and a  young man. To my left I saw a small framed sign on the wall adjacent to me:

THE TRUTH ABOUT TEEN PRIVACY

We encourage teens to discuss their health care concerns with their parents or other adults, but you can give us your own permission for the following:

    • Birth Control
    • Pregnancy test
    • Abortion services
    • Sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment

You can also talk to us about the following and be sure they will remain private:

    • Alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, or drugs
    • Personal, school, or family issues
    • Sex and sexuality issues

I thought about my younger sister, about the handful of times I’d walked her into a clinic like this. I’d forgotten what that was like… being underage and in the foster care system, Planned Parenthood the only place you knew to go.

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Read more: General Health, Gynecology, Health, Healthy Aging, Love, News & Issues, Obstetrics, Sex, Sexual Health, Women's Health

By Chelsea Roff

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Chelsea, selected from Intent.com

Intent.com provides content and community for who you aspire to be--personally, socially and globally. Follow Intent on Twitter here.

74 comments

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5:43AM PDT on May 1, 2014

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10:42PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Any for-profit role in insurance automatically adds an extra level of expense-profit-and whole different set of motives. Everyone should have access to full healthcare by virtue of being a member of a society. If you are going to divide up the system and make it less comprehensive, you will just make it more expensive and less efficient. Cover everybody and the costs go down wheil the efficiency goes up.

6:04PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

I am so, so grateful that I now live in a country with a decent national healthcare system. I have 3 "pre-existing" conditions and I highly doubt I could get any sort of coverage in the US. The situation in the US is a joke, and it's beyond me why so many people are vehemently against making their fellow citizens' lives better.

6:42PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

*sigh* the healthcare situation in this country is a joke.

10:51PM PST on Dec 6, 2012

I lived without health insurance several years in my life...more than I like to think. After I divorced i returned to a job where i could have health insurance as a protection for myself and my children. It was one thing I did not think of when i was divorced. Later in life i did not have insurance and did not worry about it but it ended up that i had a tumor growing in my right colon. Thankfully when it was discovered i did have insurance. Good thing i was not worrying about illness when I did not have insurance.

5:21PM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Very informative.

12:16AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

ı have insurance and ı feel better and safe.

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