Editor’s Note: Forgive the replacement of a fiction story for a real-life rant, ala creative non-fiction. It’s hard to write fiction sometimes when real life is being an over-demanding, whiny monster. However, it still falls within some of the parameters of Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenge. See if you can find where I fit that in. It came in at 946 words, which for a rant is acceptably reasonable. Thank you for reading.
Being a freelance writer is fraught with worry. I never know what the mail man or random stranger will bring to my door. It goes with the territory. I knew that before I left a stable, laced-with-benefits job. One day I’ll get three checks, which promptly get turned around into bill payments or groceries; the next day there will be nothing but a cockroach in the mailbox. Then the next day, the letter carrier has a stack of bills – with no checks to cover it. Rinse. Repeat.
Yesterday, it was a bill for $3400 in the form of a court summons (which, by the way, in the state of Washington it is totally legit to serve a minor provided they appear “of a reasonable age” to the process server). To be paid within 20 – now 19 days – or face a fountain of legal ramifications, including the possibility of putting a lien on my family’s home. These collectors are cut-throat vampires. I could hire an attorney, buy some time, fight it a bit more, but I would incur even more expenses, so it doesn’t make sense to do that. I did get counsel from an attorney this morning, she basically told me I would have to pay the medical institution and then could bring suit against the insurance company. Again, more legal fees and drama, for which, I do not have the resources for either financially or emotionally.
Short of it: I had a medical procedure done recommended by my doctor to deal with an old Army injury for which Veteran’s Affairs and I are still going ‘round and ‘round. My shitty insurance at the time of the procedure (all freelancers have shitty insurance, or worse none) said they would cover it. The medical team billed them. They denied it. (Anyone else want to yell, ‘Liar, Liar pants on fire! With me? Insurance companies are today what used car salespeople were in the 60s) We went back and forth. I got distracted, didn’t hear from anyone, changed insurance companies (the one I have now is a slight bit better, but that’s because it’s through my husband’s employment), and I forgot about the issue. Now said medical institution has employed hired guns to whip the funds out of me. Which I do not have. I wouldn’t be on my little rant box here if I did have it. My savings is tapped (remember July and August were full of zero billable hour days and dozens upon dozens of rejections). My only option, according to the woman I spoke with this morning, is to prove that the insurance company lied to me. I can’t do that – talking to a customer service representative on the phone and relaying my story does not make for legal documentation.
I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but something always falls in place. I’m also trying to recover a debt from another organization – but that’s tied up in legal mumbo jumbo (is it any wonder I’m thrilled my daughter said the other day she wants to become an attorney? Of course, that doesn’t help right now…). This year – 2011 – will go down in my personal history as the year of massive legal issues, to include battling the tax man. And perhaps they will leak into 2012.
I will, like everything I do, continue to fight the battle and survive – even if I lose the the war. I still believe that following my passion will bring me what I need in life. That includes dealing with this. Of course there’s always the trusted whiskey bottle (just kidding…or am I?).
However, it brings me to the fact that our country’s medical system is BROKEN. When I had that stable, laced-with-benefits job I oftentimes would contribute to other artists’ situations – dental problems gone horribly wrong (oh yeah, the dental system is broken even worse than the medical system), terminal end-of-life treatment which was necessary to die in peace, and even to help sick pets. I support my artistic community – especially the literary branch – because I know how important it is to our culture. You want to know what’s really happening in your community, your state, your country, the world? Look to the artists. And they have to pimp for projects to get off the ground (crowdfunding, kickstarting, or on personal blogs just like mine), change excellent work to fill ROI matrixes (do you think Shakespeare had to do that? Blargh.).
What is wrong here? When a pro athlete and questionable-ethics politician can get better medical care than the teachers in our schools or those that create the work that helps us escape or endure our existence, or worse, the veterans that helped give us the freedoms we enjoy. I’m starting to doubt that freedom. Freedom to be a cog in someone else’s profit machine (ala for-profit medical institutions, oil companies, et al.). When socio-economic status keeps people from being treated for medical conditions (especially those of no fault of their own), we have failed ourselves in irreconcilable ways.
I don’t feel like I’m in a position to ask for help. I still have much to prove that my decision last year was not fraught with stupidity and this was the best thing for my family (those that know have seen huge improvements in my family’s happiness, by the way) and my own physical and mental health. But what’s an artist supposed to do?
Sometimes I think I’ll win the lottery before I’ll see my world socially just where artists and writers are respected alongside engineers, scientists and doctors. For now, I have to go find a writing gig that will cover $3,400 in 18.5 days.