Art by Sofia Warren
People say the American healthcare industry doesn’t do much for you. It overcharges for insurance you can barely use, ratchets up the price of prescription drugs, and offers no preventative care. But those people are wrong. There are a number of ways the healthcare industry keeps you healthy. For instance:
- The walking required to go back and forth from the pharmacy when each successive pharmacist tells you that you first need to check with your insurance to make sure the medication is covered.
- The wrist exercises needed to call your insurance. Carpal tunnel’s not hitting these hands.
- The mindfulness that comes from waiting six hours for your doctor’s appointment. There’s no other way to fit a meditation session into a day.
- The social benefit of connecting with others to figure out tricks to afford medication. You’ve made so many friends on r/insulin. They say people with more community live longer.
- The mental challenge of figuring out how to pay for everything. Its cognitive effects are similar to that of Sudoku. No memory problems here! Please, God, no memory problems. You cannot afford another health issue.
- The joy you get when fantasizing about living in a country with socialized medicine. “Woe to those who get what they desire,” Laurie Colwin wrote. And what you desire is for your antidepressants to cost less than $200/month. Luckily for you, it’s not going to happen. So you get to keep your fantasies, which are better.
- The money you spend on doctor’s visits. This is money you can’t spend on skydiving, which could kill you.
- The lessons you learn sitting at the desks of the jobs you can’t quit because it’s your only way to get healthcare. You just read a fascinating study on the long-term effects of sitting for more than five hours a day—it’s great to activate your mind.
- The anger directed at every Congressperson who voted against lowering prescription drug costs. Anger is energizing—now you can go for a run. Heart-health FTW.
- The time you get to spend with your families, not in a hospital bed. Because you couldn’t afford an overnight stay at the hospital, even though your urine is purple, and no one knows why.
- The dark room you sit in because of your migraines. An MRI is out of the question, cost-wise, but you are avoiding sunburns.
- The peace you get when you stop following the news because you can’t learn that the drug company charging us $800/month for cholesterol medication posted a quarterly profit of $700 million. So nice to unplug!
- The extra vegetables you eat because you live in fear of getting sick since you absolutely cannot cover the cost of it.
- The extra water and baking soda you drink. You can’t afford medicine, so home-health hacks will have to do. And this one is apparently great for your teeth—no one’s ever said that statins give you a new white shine.
- The extra sleep you get because, in lieu of medical intervention, you’ve started taking Tylenol PM for everything. If it doesn’t work, at least you’re not awake enough to realize it.
- The rest and relaxation that comes from knowing you don’t have to make any major decisions about your own health. Because you can’t afford any of the options available anyway—no decision fatigue! Thank you, Mitch McConnell, and thank you, Big Pharma, and thank you, FDA, for making this possible. Without you, you’d really be… well, you’d be sick.