HMOs Make Vision an Unaffordable Luxury: A Personal Narrative

It will cost money I don’t have just to fix my current glasses frames and their already jerry-rigged earpiece, where I used a piece of wire I cut with some toenail clippers from a spiral notebook and attached it between the lenses and the tiny hole in the earpiece.

by Buford Buntin

 

I wander into their store on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco, the thriving health maintenance organization which over the years has provided me with much of my medical needs, that is when I’ve been fortunate enough to have a job that provided benefits.

It is growing harder for low-income people to afford the most basic medical necessities. Art by Christa Occhiogrosso

Right now, I’m in sort of an overflow situation from having had benefits a bit over a year ago on a temporary job with the S.F. Unified School District, so I carted my member card into their eyeglass store and presented my once very adequate eyeglasses which now need major maintenance, along with my eyes themselves.

The long and the sort of it all is I’m looking at $75 just to fix my current glasses frames and their already jerry-rigged earpiece, where I used a piece of wire I cut with some toenail clippers from a spiral notebook and attached it between the lenses and the minute hole in the earpiece. I was unable, though, to put together the other earpiece and frames because a piece with a hole to put wire through had broken off.

So, I was unable to afford the $75 because my rent ate up the eyeglass fee. Back when I had a full-time job, more than three years ago, I could manage that fee. Now, at roughly half the income of a janitor/security guard at my alma mater, the late great New College of California, there is no way.

When I sounded as if $75 was a lot of money to put a couple of screws into some eyeglass frames, the enormously sensitive eyeglass technician remarked, “Well, you could always put the glasses together with tape.”

A private eyeglass company on Market Street is basically in the same ballpark fee-wise, so last night I watched the magnificent San Francisco Giants in the free “knothole” section of the ballpark underneath the right field and right centerfield grandstands with one eyeglass earpiece, helping cheer the home team to victory.

I guess things could be worse….

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