Growing up, my parents didn’t see a need for children to go to the doctor. My mom thought soaking a broken ankle in salt water would realign the bones and my dad’s remedy for everything was a little whiskey (the alcohol kills any germs that are making you sick, right?). And my mom’s cure for a stomachache? 7-Up. She said it would put the fire out. I actually believe my mother thought there was a real fire in my belly.
My dad knew that medical insurance was something you paid for, but he was too embarrassed to use it. Just like food stamps, welfare checks and Section 8 housing insurance were things the government gave you because you were poor. My father has actually been paying for prescriptions out-of-pocket all these years because he didn’t want the Bangladeshi cashier at Duane Reade to judge him.
Last year, I spoke to my dad and told him to show the cashier at the pharmacy his insurance card. I told him that it doesn’t mean he’s poor and that it isn’t considered welfare — even rich people use medical insurance. To be honest, I don’t think he listened to me.
Last week he came over and asked me to make him some soup. Turns out he’d finally gone to the dentist and couldn’t eat solid food. I figured it was the least I could do, since god knows how much he just paid for his appointment.