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Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir

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Growing up in middle-class middle America, Sonya Huber viewed health care as did most of her peers: as an inconvenience or not at all. There were braces and cavities, medications and stitches, the family doctor and the local dentist. Finding herself without health insurance after college graduation, she didn’t worry. It was a temporary problem. Thirteen years and twenty-th Growing up in middle-class middle America, Sonya Huber viewed health care as did most of her peers: as an inconvenience or not at all. There were braces and cavities, medications and stitches, the family doctor and the local dentist. Finding herself without health insurance after college graduation, she didn’t worry. It was a temporary problem. Thirteen years and twenty-three jobs later, her view of the matter was quite different. Huber’s irreverent and affecting memoir of navigating the nation’s health-care system brings an awful and necessary dose of reality to the political debates and propaganda surrounding health-care reform.   “I look like any other upwardly mobile hipster,” Huber says. “I carry a messenger bag, a few master’s degrees, and a toddler raised on organic milk.” What’s not evident, however, is that she is a veteran of Medicaid and WIC, the federal government’s supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. In Cover Me, Huber tells a story that is at once all too familiar and rarely told: of being pushed to the edge by worry; of the adamant belief that better care was out there; of taking one mind-numbing job after another in pursuit of health insurance, only to find herself scrounging through the trash heap of our nation’s health-care system for tips and tricks that might mean the difference between life and death.


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Growing up in middle-class middle America, Sonya Huber viewed health care as did most of her peers: as an inconvenience or not at all. There were braces and cavities, medications and stitches, the family doctor and the local dentist. Finding herself without health insurance after college graduation, she didn’t worry. It was a temporary problem. Thirteen years and twenty-th Growing up in middle-class middle America, Sonya Huber viewed health care as did most of her peers: as an inconvenience or not at all. There were braces and cavities, medications and stitches, the family doctor and the local dentist. Finding herself without health insurance after college graduation, she didn’t worry. It was a temporary problem. Thirteen years and twenty-three jobs later, her view of the matter was quite different. Huber’s irreverent and affecting memoir of navigating the nation’s health-care system brings an awful and necessary dose of reality to the political debates and propaganda surrounding health-care reform.   “I look like any other upwardly mobile hipster,” Huber says. “I carry a messenger bag, a few master’s degrees, and a toddler raised on organic milk.” What’s not evident, however, is that she is a veteran of Medicaid and WIC, the federal government’s supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. In Cover Me, Huber tells a story that is at once all too familiar and rarely told: of being pushed to the edge by worry; of the adamant belief that better care was out there; of taking one mind-numbing job after another in pursuit of health insurance, only to find herself scrounging through the trash heap of our nation’s health-care system for tips and tricks that might mean the difference between life and death.

30 review for Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    A painfully realistic and mundane collection if essays that arc in sort of a narrative about the implications, both physical and emotional, of living without access to proper medical care, Cover Me is an accurate reflection of a failing of American society. Huber's experiences are far from extraordinary. I don't know anyone inbour age bracket without medical debt other than people who make well into six figures amd people who have declared bankruptcy and have nothing left. I related to her fears A painfully realistic and mundane collection if essays that arc in sort of a narrative about the implications, both physical and emotional, of living without access to proper medical care, Cover Me is an accurate reflection of a failing of American society. Huber's experiences are far from extraordinary. I don't know anyone inbour age bracket without medical debt other than people who make well into six figures amd people who have declared bankruptcy and have nothing left. I related to her fears amd monthly evaluations of what can wait (dental, always dental- currently living with cavities because who can afford to even walk into a dentist?), and what can't, based solely on what pennies are left in near empty bank accounts, what space is left on credit cards that will never be paid off. While I applaud the author's writing, which is descriptive and enticing, I do often wonder how different this memoir would be, if she'd even be able to have written it, if she'd had more acute health issurs ir disabilities, as many of us do. Glad she was finally able to find a job with good benefits. It's strictly luck for those of us who are that fortunate. Four stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard Oosse

    A memoir of Sonya Huber's harrowing journey through almost an entire life without health care benefits. In detailing the day to day stress of living without coverage, the story generates almost as much suspense as a thriller. Her feelings of vulnerability are emotionally documented here along with the dread of encountering some new health crisis. In our country's current climate where tens of millions have no medical coverage whatsoever and healthcare is bartered as a privilege rather than a god A memoir of Sonya Huber's harrowing journey through almost an entire life without health care benefits. In detailing the day to day stress of living without coverage, the story generates almost as much suspense as a thriller. Her feelings of vulnerability are emotionally documented here along with the dread of encountering some new health crisis. In our country's current climate where tens of millions have no medical coverage whatsoever and healthcare is bartered as a privilege rather than a godgiven right, our bodies are our own worst enemies. Huber's writing here is clear and grounded as she explains navigating the bureaucratic labyrinths of HMO networks, free clinic procedures, WIC applications and charity healthcare orginizations in an easy to understand manner. Not only was I never confused by what hoops Huber had to jump through to get the care her or her family needed but I came away with a decent understanding of how all these processes worked. Huber is also a generous writer who never fails to record and credit the many examples of encountering kindness from strangers. A hospital forgives a $3,000 bill, a doctor gives free medications samples, free clinic administrators treating her with respectful dignity and a Lenscraftor counter person sneaking Huber a bag full of free supplies after discovering she has no insurance were all incidents that sent my heart soaring and kept her story from becoming too grim. Final conclusion: Its not us humans that are broken but merely our impotent political process that can't fix this current horrific system.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    "Cover Me" traces Huber's experiences in and out of coverage (and in and out of network!) from childhood through college and graduate school, marriage, childbirth and single motherhood, and while you might imagine this would be as dry as reading your insurer's Explanation of Benefits, Huber's writing is electric; it sparkles with sharp observations, wry humor, and unsparing honesty about her "health care hookup story." The book is timely and important, but also, always, a flat-out pleasure to re "Cover Me" traces Huber's experiences in and out of coverage (and in and out of network!) from childhood through college and graduate school, marriage, childbirth and single motherhood, and while you might imagine this would be as dry as reading your insurer's Explanation of Benefits, Huber's writing is electric; it sparkles with sharp observations, wry humor, and unsparing honesty about her "health care hookup story." The book is timely and important, but also, always, a flat-out pleasure to read. Here's a little taste of her writing: "In between my months of insurance I gravitated toward loser, slacker, emotionally unavailable jobs that wouldn't support my healthcare needs. I've always had a thing for the bad boys, and maybe I kept unconsciously choosing those chain-walleted tattooed health plans that looked fine in the dim and smoky light of a fling. The second my body exhibited a need, however, these health plans turned grouchy and distant, coughing up loopholes and denials of coverage. Maybe my full-coverage, low-deductible dreamboat was still out there somewhere, bobbing above the surface of the ocean as I muttered, 'plenty of fish' and sorted the bottom-feeders below."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    Wow, that's....some cover. WTG publishers. Half-naked decapitated woman! Somehow I don't think that's meant to be some kind of metaphorical illustration of her journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Uninsurance. Wow, that's....some cover. WTG publishers. Half-naked decapitated woman! Somehow I don't think that's meant to be some kind of metaphorical illustration of her journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Uninsurance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    Well written. Compelling and provocative. Excellent book about this fucked up health care system. Appreciate the explicit class analysis.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy Murray

    The first 2/3 of this book were really tough to get in to. The author kind of rambles through retelling the story of her early 20's, seemingly highlighted by every sinus infection (of which there were many) and low-paying job (also many) she ever had. I think part of the problem was that many of the chapters were each individual essays she had written and submitted to various magazines on their own, and when they were compiled in to a book, they didn't really flow. But the author hits her stride The first 2/3 of this book were really tough to get in to. The author kind of rambles through retelling the story of her early 20's, seemingly highlighted by every sinus infection (of which there were many) and low-paying job (also many) she ever had. I think part of the problem was that many of the chapters were each individual essays she had written and submitted to various magazines on their own, and when they were compiled in to a book, they didn't really flow. But the author hits her stride in the last section of the book--she gets married and gets pregnant, and all at once it seems like she brings her life (and this book) in to focus. Her detailed account of securing state-funded healthcare for her son, and the battle she went through to keep him covered and healthy, is powerful. Her small family is the reason, I think, we have welfare in the first place. Both her and her husband work hard, and just don't make enough money to provide expensive medical care for each other and their baby. Overall, the last 1/3 of this book makes wading through the beginning worth it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina Whittle

    I’ve been a fan of Sonya Huber for a while, so I was really looking forward to this book— and just as I suspected, it’s a rocking good read. Vibrant, articulate, and smart all the way to the middle, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir hits all the right spots, from the nitty-gritty checks and balances of do-it-yourself healthcare to the larger moral issues of coverage for all. It’s an honest take on our human bodies with their various needs and glories, and the corporate and governmental net tha I’ve been a fan of Sonya Huber for a while, so I was really looking forward to this book— and just as I suspected, it’s a rocking good read. Vibrant, articulate, and smart all the way to the middle, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir hits all the right spots, from the nitty-gritty checks and balances of do-it-yourself healthcare to the larger moral issues of coverage for all. It’s an honest take on our human bodies with their various needs and glories, and the corporate and governmental net that both holds us and divides us. If you’re wondering what kind of animal a health care memoir is, rest assured — it’s funny and tender and full of life, real life. It’s the story of all of us, right now, at this time and place. And it’s really really good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    "The real threat was the large gray area: above poverty but far below enough to buy the cheapest health insurance."(p144) -And that's exactly where I myself, have been living for the past decade since I graduated college. I guess I had hoped for more tips & tricks from this book. What I did find, was myself silently nodding with familiarity all too often. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has taken their health care for granted or who suffers from the delusion that there are plent "The real threat was the large gray area: above poverty but far below enough to buy the cheapest health insurance."(p144) -And that's exactly where I myself, have been living for the past decade since I graduated college. I guess I had hoped for more tips & tricks from this book. What I did find, was myself silently nodding with familiarity all too often. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has taken their health care for granted or who suffers from the delusion that there are plenty of affordable and accessible options out there for just about anyone.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I am giving this title 3 stars. (It probably deserves more.) I am, at the same time, assigning 5 stars to Sonya Huber. I like her tenacity. I like her flaws. I like her brutal honesty about herself and her journey. I have met a lot of people like Sonya. If things had gone just a little differently in my own life, I would have probably experienced some of the same travails she pushed through. In these precarious times I still cannot rule out these crises. My master's degree can't guarantee I will I am giving this title 3 stars. (It probably deserves more.) I am, at the same time, assigning 5 stars to Sonya Huber. I like her tenacity. I like her flaws. I like her brutal honesty about herself and her journey. I have met a lot of people like Sonya. If things had gone just a little differently in my own life, I would have probably experienced some of the same travails she pushed through. In these precarious times I still cannot rule out these crises. My master's degree can't guarantee I will always be able to see a doctor if I am sick. My middle class upbringing won't protect me. My fourteen years of working and paying generous portions of my income into constantly changing coverage plans won't matter either. I lost a close friend to cancer when we were still in our twenties and he was uninsured. This experience took me from being someone who was already philosophically in favor of universal coverage and changed me into a more vocal advocate for health care reform. It is difficult for me to retain much objectivity about the state of our health care system. And I tend to look at every article, memoir or press release about health care from the point of view of an advocate. "Will this help our cause?" So it became difficult for me to read the strongest aspect of Huber's writing-- which is her unflinching honesty. She was candid about the farcical aspects of U S Healthcare Inc. And she also presented herself with unvarnished realism. She was forthcoming about her battle with depression. She was equally transparent about her student days and her involvement with anarchists and socialism. She talked about living in dumpy student apartments, her failed relationships and her uneven path toward finding a job...a career...and, mainly...coverage. And I liked her for it. I have a liberal arts degree. I had no idea what I could do for a living when I was twenty. I chose the wrong man than once. I pieced together part time jobs to get adequate health coverage and the rent paid throughout my twenties. I made mistakes. I was often depressed by my lack of progress. I worried. People who are already on board with the concept of basic universal coverage will root for Sonya. They will either empathize through shared experience or they will take a 'there but for the grace of god go I' view of her 20 year ordeal. But the segment of America who is not yet on board will probably use Huber's honesty against her. She should have bucked up much sooner and done something 'practical'. (The right brainers don't deserve to get treatment doctine--even if they work as long each day as you do.) She should never have had sex with those guys. (The single women who have sex deserve untreated bladder infections doctrine.) She is probably over stating the case because of her emotional problems. (The "it's all in your head" doctrine.) And she is nothing but a treasonous crypto-commie-pinko-anarcho anyway. (The Far Lefties deserve everything they get doctrine.) Because really...and pardon me if I'm getting obnoxious...If we are still giving the outsourced middle age tech worker the F-U Health Plan; and if we are still giving the pink slipped and then re-hired as a freelancer the F-U Health Plan; and if we are still giving the poor kid who worked his way through school on scholarships but developed a life threatening illness before he landed a full time job with bennies the F-U plan? Then what is to stop us from holding all of Sonya Huber's human frailties and individual quirks against her? Despite her talent. We are precariously 'there' with health care reform. But it hangs by a thread and there is constant pressure to revoke and chisel away at the proposed changes. I would love to think that Sonya Huber...and the 40 million + Americans who share her experience are almost out of the woods. But I'm not breathing that easily yet. (And I have health insurance.) Huber is a vivid writer and her work shows a lot of integrity. Cover Me is a memoir of the most intimate nature. You will feel like you know the author personally once you have turned over the last page. I should have read this book as memoir and immersed myself in the author's personal story. Instead, I read the book as a health care activist -- scanning each section for the points that would bolster the argument for universal coverage and worrying over the paragraphs that might give the other side traction. Reading the memoir in this manner was inescapable for me; but I think I cheated myself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joan Hanna

    Cover Me makes us all a little more willing to share our stories and give a voice to our frustrations. This book isn’t a radical call for change, it doesn’t offer solutions; rather, it begins a much-needed dialogue. Political party battle lines and what ifs about medical care dissolve into the idea that medical care and our health are very basic needs that every United States citizen should be able to rely on without stress, frustration or embarrassment. This book illustrates, in a way that mere Cover Me makes us all a little more willing to share our stories and give a voice to our frustrations. This book isn’t a radical call for change, it doesn’t offer solutions; rather, it begins a much-needed dialogue. Political party battle lines and what ifs about medical care dissolve into the idea that medical care and our health are very basic needs that every United States citizen should be able to rely on without stress, frustration or embarrassment. This book illustrates, in a way that mere political rhetoric cannot, how the lack of accessible, affordable medical care negatively affects everyone on a personal, emotional and economic scale.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becky Campbell Gomolka

    *** I received this book free through GoodReads *** I agree with other reviews here, the first 2/3 of this book are disjointed and slow. At points I was cursing either the editor or the writer for the seemingly random developments, and people. With that said, I believe this book to be good, although not great. I am disappointed, I so wanted this book to be great. I've been in Ms. Huber's footsteps, as I, too, have navigated life without health insurance. It's a story that more people need to read *** I received this book free through GoodReads *** I agree with other reviews here, the first 2/3 of this book are disjointed and slow. At points I was cursing either the editor or the writer for the seemingly random developments, and people. With that said, I believe this book to be good, although not great. I am disappointed, I so wanted this book to be great. I've been in Ms. Huber's footsteps, as I, too, have navigated life without health insurance. It's a story that more people need to read, to understand. I just wish it flowed a little bit better.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Re

    This was my first Good Reads giveaway, which I won. The subject of this book is one that our country needs and IS looking at very carefully. The author has a certain style that uses sarcasm that works for many, just not for me. The noice that this book was being sent to me was emailed to me on October, 2010. This book arrived within about 3 weeks, if I recall correctly. I dont recall the date of the first review, but it certainly, I surely dont believe, was in 2011. I have no way, as of yet, as I This was my first Good Reads giveaway, which I won. The subject of this book is one that our country needs and IS looking at very carefully. The author has a certain style that uses sarcasm that works for many, just not for me. The noice that this book was being sent to me was emailed to me on October, 2010. This book arrived within about 3 weeks, if I recall correctly. I dont recall the date of the first review, but it certainly, I surely dont believe, was in 2011. I have no way, as of yet, as I am currently on a 'learning-curve' here at goodReads...to check on those earlier dates.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Don't be fooled by the catchy cover and the expose title: this is exactly what it says it is, a memoir about not being covered for health insurance. It is beautifully written, with sentences that leap off the page, and it is smart and subtle, bringing into sharp focus the banality of a situation that is so unnecessary and so easily avoided, and yet also so inevitable and exhausting and destructive. But it is a one person story, not an expose on health insurance. It's a touching read, and a well Don't be fooled by the catchy cover and the expose title: this is exactly what it says it is, a memoir about not being covered for health insurance. It is beautifully written, with sentences that leap off the page, and it is smart and subtle, bringing into sharp focus the banality of a situation that is so unnecessary and so easily avoided, and yet also so inevitable and exhausting and destructive. But it is a one person story, not an expose on health insurance. It's a touching read, and a well articulated story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I should be getting ready for work right now, but I'm at about page 45 in this book and I wanted to run to the computer and tell everyone how awesome it is. The author, Sonya Huber, was also around the Minnesota and northeastern anarchist scenes in the early '90s, so that had me hooked already. Can I give it 5 stars right now? I may downgrade it as I read on, but we'll see. Update: Ok, this started off strong for me, but somewhere about 2/3 of the way through I just wasn't as into it anymore. I should be getting ready for work right now, but I'm at about page 45 in this book and I wanted to run to the computer and tell everyone how awesome it is. The author, Sonya Huber, was also around the Minnesota and northeastern anarchist scenes in the early '90s, so that had me hooked already. Can I give it 5 stars right now? I may downgrade it as I read on, but we'll see. Update: Ok, this started off strong for me, but somewhere about 2/3 of the way through I just wasn't as into it anymore.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    A timely book about a college-educated woman who works at various jobs for non-profits (some of them labor activism and some of them health-care advocacy related) and her struggles to get health care and maintain her health. Funny, ironic, and important. I highly recommend it. It's from the University of Nebraska's series on class in America, and I hope they publish more books on social class. A timely book about a college-educated woman who works at various jobs for non-profits (some of them labor activism and some of them health-care advocacy related) and her struggles to get health care and maintain her health. Funny, ironic, and important. I highly recommend it. It's from the University of Nebraska's series on class in America, and I hope they publish more books on social class.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenny T.

    This book was a memoir of the author's life related to her health woes and her health care insurance coverage. At times I was quite frustrated reading about the author's life choices and the consequences from inadequate care, not necessarily related to her insurance. The lesson that I took away from this book is that you should obtain a job with good benefits and don't scrimp on your care. This book was a memoir of the author's life related to her health woes and her health care insurance coverage. At times I was quite frustrated reading about the author's life choices and the consequences from inadequate care, not necessarily related to her insurance. The lesson that I took away from this book is that you should obtain a job with good benefits and don't scrimp on your care.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    I liked the first half better than the second, but I read the whole thing in one day so going with 4 stars. I have had trouble focusing so it was nice to find something that grabbed my attention early.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    The book is pretty exhausting. She bounces back and forth between jobs with medical insurance and jobs without. It was more of a memoir about her life than a health insurance memoir. I expected some great knowledge out of this book but was disapointed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Grunow

    Sharp, stunning, strong, and sometimes a little heartbreaking. More than just a memoir, it's a thoughtful investigation into the hypocrisies of healthcare and assumptions of wealth and class in America. Sharp, stunning, strong, and sometimes a little heartbreaking. More than just a memoir, it's a thoughtful investigation into the hypocrisies of healthcare and assumptions of wealth and class in America.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    not on overdrive

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I'm looking forward to reading this, as even though the health care bill has passed, the debate rages on. I'm enjoying the 'voice' of this - very anecdotal. I'm looking forward to reading this, as even though the health care bill has passed, the debate rages on. I'm enjoying the 'voice' of this - very anecdotal.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I want to read this, but it may make me even more shrill than usual. HMM.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Em C

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kebanek

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Sumner-Winter

  26. 4 out of 5

    Holly Hagman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Delory

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Morse

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Grace Sutherlin

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