DEAR HARRIETTE: Last year, I had a series of medical tests that led to more and more tests. I was diagnosed with a couple of health issues that I need to deal with, but honestly, I can’t afford to go to all of the doctors' appointments, let alone pay for all of the medications. And I have insurance! I work, too, but I can’t keep up with all of the things needed to stay healthy. I feel like I am going to go broke trying to stay alive. I don’t know what to do. -- Can't Afford Health Care
DEAR CAN’T AFFORD HEALTH CARE: I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. Sadly, you are not alone. A lot of Americans are facing the same reality -- they cannot afford the care they need to stay healthy, at least not at face value.
While I do not have any magic tricks to offer to you, I can tell you that some teaching hospitals offer free or low-cost health care for patients who are willing to allow students to learn from them. This has been true for schools of dentistry, surgery, mental health and more. Look around your city to see what teaching hospitals are there, and inquire as to whether they will accept you.
Beyond that, negotiate a payment plan with all of your medical creditors. Be proactive, and let them know your situation. Ask for mercy. Usually, this will help you to create a bridge that allows you to meet your goals.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I started working for my local newspaper, and I am totally psyched about it. I live in a small town, and most of the people know each other. My job is to be like a gossip columnist in a way, reporting on the people and things that are going on. Anyway, my editor asked me to write a story about a family that got into trouble recently. One of the family members got arrested, so it is real news. I feel awful for this family, and I don’t want to make it harder for them. I have known these people for years. I also don’t want to lose my job. How can I handle this situation? -- Sensitive or Professional?
DEAR SENSITIVE OR PROFESSIONAL?: If you want to keep your job, you will have to write something about what has happened, but who says you can’t do so with compassion? Given that one family member got arrested, that news is public knowledge. Dig a little deeper. Can you discover any information that might shed light on why the alleged crime happened? Consider talking to friends of theirs to gain insight into who they are and how they are dealing with this crisis. Write an honest, fair and balanced article, but feel comfortable being thoughtful. If your whole town is in shock or mourning or there is another type of predominant emotion among neighbors, share that, too. You can create a complete story without being scathing.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)