Hi, gang —
Well, I’m still a bit of a Writer McCrankypants. My apologies for that. This project, as excited as I am about it, is rather stressful as all these disparate elements have to come together so that I can launch it to the best of my abilities (and then do the whole thing again with yet another project in the pipeline…LOL).
Remind me again why I do this job? Oh, I remember.
Because I luuuuuuuv it!
As I’ve been working on the project I’m about to launch I’m also finishing up a short story for an anthology. That one’s been a bit of a pain in the butt. Sometimes stories almost write themselves. Other times, they’re divas and require certain things just so, taking scenes out and re-doing them, and a whole host of other issues. This was one of those. Who knows why. It just was. I’m just about done and then I’ll leave it for a few days and go back and read it and see how it all feels.
Anyway, the past couple of months have gotten me thinking, because not only have I been totally swamped in the writing world, but also in my non-writing world. Yes, friends, writers have non-writing lives, too. Like anybody else, we have shopping, cleaning, and laundry to do (unless you’re all super-famous and can hire that out), cars to get fixed, animals to take care of, jobs to go to, family and friends to check in with and/or take care of, home repairs, doctors’ appointments, haircuts, bills to pay, taxes to do (ARGH)…
Which means for those of us who write and work full-time day jobs, there isn’t a whole lot of time for either. And that got me thinking about much larger things that maybe writers and other creative pursuit-types don’t think about.
The other day I noticed that urban fantasy author Faith Hunter posted on social media that she was able to quit her day job and focus full-time on writing. She was able to do this because of the Affordable Care Act. Now, I’m not here to get all political and take sides and harp on the crappy initial roll-out. Those are conversations for other forums. Point is, Hunter mentioned some preexisting medical things that prior to the ACA she would not have been able to get covered (at least not in an affordable way) but the ACA allowed her the freedom to quit her day job and focus exclusively on writing.
A few months back I was chatting with a fellow author about an author overseas in Germany who was also able to quit her job and focus on writing. In Germany, as many of you no doubt know, healthcare is not tied to employment, which means even if you’re working part-time, you still have coverage.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how things like affordable healthcare enhance productivity, because I sure as hell would like to write full-time. It seems to me that tying healthcare to employment — though maybe it was a good idea at the time — isn’t always the best way to go.
Losing your job in this day and age in this country is one of the worst things that can happen, especially if you have health issues or a family that depends on you for that coverage. And then the ridiculous COBRA thingie kicks in and it costs 3 times more than your healthcare did when you were employed. How the hell are you supposed to afford that when you no longer have a salary? But a traditional policy would probably cost MORE. Again, how the hell are you supposed to afford health insurance when you don’t have a salary anymore? AND, the longer you go without insurance (traditionally), the less insurable you are. What the hell kind of logic is THAT?
Traditionally, COBRA has been one of the only options for people who lose their jobs. Seems to me that a country would have a vested interest in ensuring that people had access to quality, affordable health insurance. If people did, they’d get regular check-ups and get problems taken care of before they got out of hand and even more expensive.
And they’d be healthier, and thus more productive in terms of work. People without health insurance tend not to go to doctors because they can’t afford it. Which means they only go if it’s a really bad situation and if they have chronic health issues, they may not be addressing them effectively. Chronic health issues lead to emotional and psychological health issues, especially if they’re not being treated. And that leads to people who aren’t functioning fully to their potential.
The one thing that has caused me a ton of stress throughout my adult life is whether or not I had access to healthcare. I’m a reasonably healthy individual, but you never know what could happen. And the older you get, the more preexisting conditions you will end up with, whether from illnesses or injuries (kudos to the ACA for removing that preexisting condition asshattery).
I’d love to do what Faith Hunter did. And I think there are thousands of people across this country who would love to set up their own businesses, who would love to engage in their communities in that way. I like to think that if we had a healthcare system like, say, Germany’s (not to suggest that’s the best), we’d not only have a healthier populace, but we’d have all kinds of people able to start cottage industry businesses and help revitalize local communities.
Or they could focus on being stay-at-home parents/do freelance or be caretakers for ill family members. And they wouldn’t have to worry about their healthcare, at least, during stressful times and/or the times they didn’t have a job and were launching a new business or were working a few part-time jobs.
People, I think, would like to be creative and independent. I like to think that having access to quality, affordable healthcare could help with that. And healthy people are productive employees, with fewer absenteeism. I’d think that’s something any business could get behind.
All that said, your health is one of your most precious commodities. Take care of it, even if you’re fortunate enough to have insurance.
Some info you might find interesting about the U.S. healthcare system and costs
U.S. healthcare the most expensive in the world
Graphs that will show you price breakdown between U.S. and other countries
12 charts that will show you why U.S. healthcare is obscenely expensive
CDC on how preventive care helps with productivity (and reduces costs)
How insurance helps health outcomes
Healthy employees are more productive
Comparison of other countries’ healthcare systems to U.S.
Comparison between U.S. and some European countries
NOTE: I am not at all suggesting that any one of these is better than the other. Simply that good health = productivity and having access to affordable, good healthcare helps with that, and thinking about the big picture might help inspire ideas to make the system work better for more people. Like creative-types who would like to focus on their medium of expression as a business. 🙂