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The Benefit of Self Reliance. Or Why Using The Health Exchanges Would Be a Backward Step For Me | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

The Benefit of Self Reliance. Or Why Using The Health Exchanges Would Be a Backward Step For Me

I do not want to use health insurance exchanges for many reasons. A fundamental reason is it would be a giant step backward for me in my version of the American dream.

In my version of the American dream, poverty was a chapter in the past. When my parents divorced, we had worse than nothing – we had lost our home, our dignity, and our sense of stability. My mother worked, and we struggled for everything. I worked a paper route starting in the 5th grade. We lived in a rental trailer on the wrong street. I remember in 7th grade, I had one outfit of clothes for school and a dress for church on Sunday. So we did laundry every night.

My mother worked, but government programs helped us. I was able to eat at school because of the free lunch program. We got the commodity cheese when it was distributed.  We used food stamps back in the day when they were booklets of stamps.

I hated having to rely on others to take care of our basic needs. When I was in elementary and middle schools, no one really knew who the free lunch kids were. When I hit high school, everyone knew because the only kids who ate lunch in the cafeteria were the free lunch kids. We had an open campus, so you could go out for lunch in high school. I chose not to eat the free lunches. I felt degraded by them. We didn’t have enough money to afford for me to go home and eat or bring a sack lunch. If I had money from babysitting, I would go out with my friends and eat. Otherwise, I just did without lunch. I would estimate that through high school, I did without lunch over half the time.

When I turned 18 and went to college, I was on my own financially. Government financial aid helped me with my schooling. I worked crazy jobs, lived in crazy places, and scrambled to survive. There were times I couch-surfed with friends in between having an actual apartment to live in.

Now flash to 30 years later. I beat the odds and worked my way out of where my life had been. My husband and I have been married for 21 years, and we have owned our own home for 19 years.  We have owned our own business for 13 years. Like any family or business owner, we have scrambled at times. We’ve done what it takes to keep our business running. We have done what it takes to pay for our own health insurance. That has meant extra part-time jobs and budget tightening in other areas.

But we often thought of ourselves as owners of a mom and pop business in a 21st century version of the American pioneers. Instead of working in the fields, we worked on our computers. Instead of harvesting crops to take to market, we used the Internet to send work to our clients. And like those early pioneers, our adventures, and our struggles have defined us and given meaning to our lives.

Having grown up with a helping hand, I savor the reward of a life well lived. I am more than thankful for my life and all we have been given by God. Never underestimate the emotional rewards of self-reliance. Life where I rely on my family’s hard work and trust in Divine Providence is a lot more enjoyable than hoping for a government handout.

I sincerely hope we will not be forced into a government-run health program. It would be a giant step backwards, to a time when my family was incapable of taking care of our financial needs. I am thankful those programs were there.

Nevertheless, having to go into a health exchange would be a giant step backwards for me emotionally. And I hope to have the freedom to move forward – not backward.

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