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It’s disturbing how much I have to pay to stay alive

I got sick. Then the healthcare system abandoned me.

Medical care costs were one of the key issues of the 2016 American Presidential Election, with candidates like Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders advocating for universal health care. However, it is hard to understand the reality that people face who have serious illnesses that depend on healthcare until you or a loved one gets sick.

I, unfortunately, had to learn the hard way about just how expensive health care costs can be.

I suffered from severe symptoms for over a year soon after I started studying at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. After finishing my semester in December 2017, I went on vacation with my father in Mexico. What I was not prepared for was nearly dying because of a severe flare, and I was later diagnosed with Hypocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis syndrome (HUVS), a rare form of vasculitis.

While my medical costs were expensive, I did not realize how expensive indirect costs would be.

As my dad and I had to miss our flights because I was still in the hospital and did not have flight insurance, we had to book new flights. My family also had to continue paying rent for my lease in Montreal because I could not find someone to transfer it to immediately, and I had to apply to new universities, as I could not depend on hospitals in Montreal, as they did not take my health concerns seriously. I also had the *luck* of my IV leaking on my keyboard and causing erosion, so I had to buy a wireless keyboard.

A breakdown of my January 2018 medical costs, both direct and indirect, can be found below.

January cost breakdown:

Dapsone: $120 (thanks Big Pharma!)

EpiPen cost: $110

Prednisone: $20

Appointment copay: $40 per appointment * 15 appointments = $600

Emergency Room visit: $150

Apartment rent at former university: $475

New flight costs: $400 (one for my father, one for me)

Wireless keyboard: $25

University applications and associated fees: $1,200

Rent at home: $0 (My father owns his home)

Caretaker: $0, I am fortunate to have a retired father

Food: $0, I am fortunate for having my parents pay for this

Transportation: $0, my father was able to drive me to and from doctors appointments

Total health and indirect costs in January: $3,100

While examining my January 2018 medical costs, I have to recognize my privilege. I was, fortunately, able to have the funds to re-apply to university, while others do not who are dealing with expensive medical issues. I also did not have to worry about housing at home, food, or transportation costs.

Regardless, it’s disturbing how much money I had to pay and continue to pay to have to be alive. I should not have had to pay so much money for medication (Dapsone, EpiPen, and Prednisone) just to stay alive in the United States.

What frustrates me the most about these costs is that the healthcare system does not have to be this way, and it should have never been this way.

Universal healthcare is the only humane form of health care, as people should not have to make huge financial sacrifices in order to have the money to pay for medical costs to keep them from being extremely sick or dying.

We can improve – we just can’t give up the fight.

We have to continue voting for people who will advocate for universal health care, we have to remind our representatives of our needs, and, most importantly, we cannot accept that healthcare costs will remain how they are.