A Braid Bar Fundraiser + Medical Debt

Flickr photo by love Maegan

What's old is often new again and braids are no exception. So many fun "new" hairstyles incorporate braids. Braids are back and many hair salons are now offering braid bars. No washing, cutting, coloring or conditioning. Just braiding. The photo above is one of many from a nice set if you'd like to take a look.

Now I recently read that one woman is using her braiding skills to hopefully eliminate her medical debt. She's having what could be considered a "pop-up" braid bar as a fundraiser. Take a look here to see the braid bar menu for the different types of styles available.

The fundraising braid bar, Braids By Brislin takes place Saturday, October 20, 2012, 2-7pm at Myrtle, located on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. So if you're in the LA area, you can make an appointment for a braid or shop at the store. 10% of shop sales will be donated.

If you're not in the area or don't want a braid, you can also make a donation online, by clicking here. I was really struck by Alison's story. Here's a portion below in her own words.
Over the summer I had to have emergency surgery to have a grapefruit sized tumor in one of my ovaries removed, a sudden and shocking discovery during a routine exam. It was rapidly growing and compromising my organ function, and having been cut off of my insurance just mere days prior by my ex-boyfriend, I had no choice but to hand over my credit card to the hospital to perform the surgery. Which leads me to where I am today: buried in $15,000 of debt. I was incredibly fortunate to bounce back health-wise and I’m doing great now, but it’s impossible to get ahead and a daily stress on my life.
I've written here before about surgery that I had a few years ago. Several years prior to that, when I first realized the condition that I had, I had to have fairly sudden surgery as well. I had just started a job that had very good health insurance and disability insurance. I was very lucky. The second time I had surgery, things had changed job wise, but I still had good health insurance and enough money to live on. So many things could have been different.

I can't help but bring politics into this, because having health insurance in the United States is a huge political issue. It was amazing to me watching the London Olympics and seeing how the British celebrated their health care system. While over here in the United States, so many people here in the US are trying to tear down our new health care law or ObamaCare as it is often called. Health insurance should be a right for everyone. Nobody should have to go into debt like this just trying to take care of themselves.

While reading part of a series of articles about the challenges of today's 20-somethings called Generation Stuck, I came across Kerri's story. Below are her words as she talks about her struggle trying to stay out of medical debt.
My financial situation all changed during the summer of 2011 when I became ill and left my well-paying job with benefits. Since becoming ill, most of my finances have gone to keeping myself out of medical debt, and even then I was only able to do so with the help of my family. People say that life can change in a flash, but as an invincible twenty-something I never really believed that until I experienced it first hand. ...  
As a former Democratic staffer working to pass national healthcare reform, I would hear from hundreds of people who were unemployed, sick, and struggling to get by. While my heart went out to them, it was a place I never imagined to find myself in.

My medical bills consumed my life. My COBRA payments alone totaled over $400 a month. This was in addition to the weekly doctors visits; the extensive testing I underwent, most of which was not covered by insurance; and the overwhelming costs of supplements and medications, many of which I was only able to take for a few days before determining it was not the right combination for me. ...

The only way I was able to avoid spiraling into medical debt was to use up the little savings I had, with some assistance from my family and going back to work in a low-level job. I was lucky enough to have a little bit of savings to get me through until I could start making some money again, but if it wasn’t for my family letting me stay with them, chipping in for a COBRA payment, or covering the costs of some testing, medications, and supplements, I honestly don’t know what I would have done.
Now I have no idea about the politics of either of the people that I'm writing about. The connections that I've made and the context in which I've put these stories is my doing.

But this week is the week for most of the deadlines to register to vote in the presidential election next month. I hope that people of all ages are registered to vote and realize what a serious decision we have to make as Americans. In my mind, the choice should be pretty clear when we think about health care, especially health care for women.

Please register and then make sure you vote!

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