(Interview June 2010. Oil on canvas 40 ins. x 30 ins.)
I tracked him down on the internet. Up to a point. He bid farewell on his Twitter account in 2014. I found him on SoundCloud and LinkedIn but the accounts seem abandoned. He did not show up in an obituary search. He does not have an active presence on the internet. How is that possible? Where is this guy? I cannot use his first name because I can't reach him to get his permission.
This subject's story happened before he could benefit from the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) safety net. The subject was a sole proprietor meaning he was working for himself and not for an employer who might have provided health insurance through a job. The new healthcare law could have helped in. He could have purchased a single insurance policy on healthcare.gov, the online marketplace. But the new healthcare reform reforms did not come in time for him.
Artist Note (3/2012)
People deal with the circumstances they find themselves in. What is it in us that just does not want to give up? Our bodies fail us, we're broke, we're hopeless for a night, a year, 10 years. We so want to give up. And then we don't really want to. We want to try if we only knew how. All we really want is the suffering to stop. We want to try. We want to live. We just don't know how. So we compartmentalize and ignore what we cannot process just so we can stay alive. Being alive...what is that in us that wants to live?
Uninsured people understand compartmentalizing more than anyone. Uninsured people ignore their health concerns when major life events occur. They scramble to meet their most basic needs for survival as this man did by bartering with a doctor for medicine -- just doing whatever he could think to do to maintain basic functioning and letting all other health concerns go. The uninsured are not too proud to rely on the kindness of medical professionals when they're desperate for care.
This subject lost his insurance when he divorced. He tried to pull together medical care like wading through a fast moving stream and wondering where the lost wallet landed. It was hard.
And now I can't track him down. I hope the Affordable Care Act helped him if he needed health insurance coverage when the marketplace made insurance available to individuals in 2014.
(from a 2010 interview)
Owner of a Small Independent Record Label and Merchandising Company, age 36, Uninsured
This subject was insured on and off in his twenties through various jobs.
He married when he was 28 years old.
His wife's insurance came through her job as regional manager for a growing coffee chain. She could add her husband as a dependent on her employer-sponsored health insurance plan after they married.
The subject took advantage of his new status as an insured person by getting a thorough check-up. At 28, he had no medical problems.
By the time the subject turned 31, doctors determined he suffered from general anxiety disorder. The body goes into flight-or-fight mode for no apparent external cause.
A sudden separation from his wife left the subject uninsured. He could no longer claim to be a spouse and piggyback as a dependent on his former wife's employer-sponsored health insurance.
The subject scrambles for care. A kind doctor is waiving office visit charges, prescribing generic drugs, and accepting a barter sometimes.
The subject has spent the last few months sorting out issues arising from his changed financial status after the divorce. He cannot deal with figuring out how to get health insurance for now. He skips dental care.