It’s a strange feeling. This (2015) will be the first year I made so little that I don’t have to file income tax returns. I am officially poor! I receive a minuscule SS benefit that nobody could live on, and therefore qualify for Medicaid (all of which I’ve earned and paid for during my working life). I can actually afford to go to a doctor and get preventive care. Thankfully, I live with a fellow poor person and share expenses, so we don’t have to be homeless.
Ironically, I feel like the lucky one. Other family members and friends are suffering because it appears on paper that they earned too much to qualify for any kind of benefits or relief. They have huge medical expenses, not covered by their health insurance, which probably won’t get reimbursed in any form. They can’t afford to go to a doctor, because they can’t afford their insurance, which won’t actually cover their healthcare. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.
How is it that hard-working citizens of this “civilized” country can’t afford healthcare? And those of us who have worked for the benefits we qualify for are considered freeloaders? And those who are too disabled or old to work are flat out of luck. Anyone who thinks privatized corporate monopolized healthcare is an effective working model, doesn’t actually live in the real world. This system discourages the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses, and crushes the illusion of earning the “dream”. You actually have to be living on the streets to even begin to qualify for healthcare and other necessities, but by then it’s too late. What kind of incentive is that?
So, I feel like the lucky one because I’m so poor at age sixty-something that I don’t have to file, having been compelled to retire prematurely, and I can finally afford a doctor. I have a roof over my head, thanks to a fellow survivor who is still contending with the broken system.
Hopefully my friend will be able to deduct some of the outrageous medical bills that her so-called insurance stopped paying for, though she still has to pay ridiculously high fees to them. She can’t afford to go to a doctor for even basic, necessary exams. She worked extremely hard, long hours, for decades, supporting an ungrateful family, including a severely disabled child who died partly due to medical incompetence. She’s still paying the consequences in every sense. She served in the military for years as well, but unsurprisingly their promised benefits were also a farce. She’s one of the millions who did their time, paid their dues, and got screwed. So much for “bootstraps”.
Anyway, enough rant. We’re off to the tax preparers today, to see if some of the huge medical debt can be written off, which would help us recover from the difficult past year, and save a little toward the future. We never get our hopes up, so we don’t get let down. Despite immense odds, we will get through this rough period and move forward to a modest new life with a clean slate. It’s more than many older (and younger) Americans can hope for.