Today is the day. Today is the day Obamacare goes into effect. Today is the day Obamacare goes into effect and I get to fill out my application for Medicaid.
Medicaid? Yes, Medicaid. I don't make enough money as an adjunct to afford health insurance, even through Obamacare, so I have been told that I need to apply for Medicaid.
I came to this understanding at a meeting at my school that was supposed to explain the non-existent changes to the school's insurance plan and answer any questions any employees might have. The school's insurance agent was very nice, explaining that, because my school's insurance plan actually exceeds the platinum level of coverage in Obamacare, employees have nothing to worry about, although they could opt out and buy their own, lesser coverage, presumably to save themselves some money.
Here was my exact train of thought as I processed this information, "Better than the platinum level of coverage? That's amazing. Who on earth would choose to opt out of that?...Wait. No. What the hell? That is bullshit. Couldn't the school drop down a level of coverage and extend benefits to more of their employees? Or drop down a level of coverage and pay us a wage that gives us a fighting chance of being able to purchase insurance ourselves?"
That's the problem, of course. It's lovely that my school offers such a supposedly fantastic plan, but it does me no good. Obamacare does me no good, either, as much as I am a firm believer in the necessity of universal healthcare. It does me no good because I don't make enough to buy my own insurance. It does me no good - in fact, it hurts my situation - thanks to the stupid decision on the part of the IRS that says anyone teaching more than two college classes is a full-time employee and must be insured by the college, resulting, as expected, in adjuncts' class loads getting decimated, further affecting our ability to cobble together a living, let alone purchase health insurance.
On a side note, I would like to see whatever geniuses at the IRS who came up with that decision try to teach two classes and work on those classes less than forty hours a week.
Still, as I've read more and more about the #IamMargaretMary tragedy and watched the government shut down over Obamacare and I've read all of people's angry tweets and raging posts on Facebook - on both sides of the issue - I have been, aside from my initial blog post and tweets about Margaret Mary's death, relatively silent.
It's not that I'm not angry. I'm furious. Of course I'm furious. I'm also at a loss. I hear people saying all these dreadful things about poor people being too lazy to get a job or being happy to mooch off the system because they are all drug addicts or not spending their money on "the right things." I read posts with people joking that it's funny how people can't pay for their own health insurance, but they can pay for a smartphone.
Ha ha. Yes, that's hilarious. I have an iPhone, I confess. Shame on me. Show me a health insurance plan that costs the $35 per month that I pay for my data plan and I would gladly purchase it. But let's have it be a useful plan that doesn't require a $10,000 deductible and only lets me visit one doctor in the state, ok?
I hear these awful comments and I want to scream that I AM THAT POOR PERSON. I am the person who cannot afford health insurance, or rent, or my student loans, or a car payment. I live with my parents and have lived with my parents for sixteen months because of my financial situation. I'm trying to finish my dissertation and bartend during the summer tourist season to help make ends meet since what I make as an adjunct is laughable, but those ends don't meet.
Those ends never meet. How can they meet with $150,000 in student loans? How can they meet when I drive 45 minutes each way, three times a week, to teach and gas costs $3.40 per gallon? How can they meet when, every time I feel myself start to get on top of my bills, something always happen? My dog gets sick, or my car breaks down, or I get sick and am forced to go to the doctor to get a prescription, spending $300 just to get simple antibiotics after being sick for three straight weeks and not being able to take it anymore. Yes, I am that poor person who isn't spending their money on "the right things."
But let's do the math, shall we? Let's see just how much I make an hour teaching "part-time." Keeping in mind that the national average per class for adjuncts is somewhere around $5,000, I earn $2,100 per class. $2,100 over sixteen weeks of teaching - because no one preps for a class before the semester starts, right? - is $131.25 per week. Since I naturally don't work 40 hours per week because I don't have a "full" course load, let's say I work 25 hours a week (I can barely control the shaking rage I feel at the assumption I work so little as a professor, but, sure, let's go with it). $131.25 per week divided by the ridiculous assumption of a 25-hour work week means I get paid, drumroll, $5.25 per hour. That's $2.00 under my state's minimum wage requirements and, like I said, 25 hours per week is some sort of insane joke of an estimate. Just for fun, let's see how much I make assuming a 40-hour week. Again, $131.25 divided by 40 this time is...$3.28 per hour. $3.28 per hour to teach a college class.
How did I get here? I did all the things I was told would help me make a good life for myself. I work hard, I am educated - well-educated, possibly too well-educated. In other words, I bought into the myth of the American dream and yet, here I am, living with my parents and applying for Medicaid.
As I sit here filling out my Medicaid application and trying to choke down the humiliation of needing Medicaid, I am going to let that number run through my head as a constant reminder of why I am about to try to go on Medicaid.
Yes, I am that person who "mooches off the system." Wouldn't you? It's a system that pays me $3.28 per hour.