Without employer health coverage, some self-employed people choose alternative medicine and quackery for their health care.

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As the daughter of a self-made businessman and a full-time musician, I felt almost destined to be self-employed. Although when I was writing an elementary school “What do you want to be when you grow up” essay assignment, I didn’t write about wanting to be a stripper. I’m pretty sure it was more along the lines of tiger trainer. But I digress.

What the old-school Reagan republicans, you know, the ones who tell you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps, don’t tell you, is that health insurance isn’t easy to come by when you are yanking on said bootstraps. They say anyone can be successfully self-employed, you just need gumption and a go-get ’em attitude, which is great.

Just don’t get sick. Or have to visit the doctor, for any reason. Ever. That goes for the dentist and optometrist too.

When I decided to stick to the man and go it alone to become a stripper, I lost my health insurance. This was back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was not a thing. I was virtually uninsurable without going through an employer health plan because of numerous “pre-existing” conditions. Basically, I had had the sniffles at 10 and was now too big of a risk for a private healthcare plan.

But that whole bootstrap thing, so I took a risk and danced without coverage. Pun very much intended.

Fortunately, I dodged the homeopathy thing because I had inadvertently debunked it in high school when writing a report on it. But I still thought that many other alternative medicines were valid options.

You probably already know this, but, surprise, they weren’t.

I spent money on chiropractors and took all sorts of vitamins and herbs, all while sneering at modern medicine. Not because I didn’t think it was effective, but because it was effectively beyond my reach. The only actual medical care I had any real access to was Planned Parenthood, and as I look back, I don’t have the words to adequately describe how grateful I am to have had that.

Eventually, I was able to get on my husband’s health plan and speak with actual doctors, which made me realize silly all my home remedies were.

If you’ve ever stepped foot into a Bath and Body Works, you have a pretty good idea of what the dressing room of a strip club smells like. That’s not only because most of the girls get their body sprays there, but because the stench of essential oils has permanently defiled the walls and carpet. Throw in some sage and the acrid stink of various vitamin and herbal supplements, and you’ll have the complete picture.

If glitter had a smell…

But walking into a dressing room full of glittery, uninsured strippers, with their bottles of Elderberry and St. John’s Wort, and more recently, CBD-infused everything, I couldn’t help but wonder if our profit and employer-driven healthcare system is helping to drive medical pseudoscience.

Just not getting sick isn’t an option.

And when you’re self-employed, staying home from work means no pay. So you couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket at a doctor’s office anyway. The only real option available is the snake oil that is offered up next to real medicine at big-named pharmacies.

Even with the ACA, I saw that many dancers still chose quackery. Partly because ‘affordable‘ is a highly relative and subjective term. But also, because now we have the modern marvel of social media and the internet where quacks and pseudoscience thrive.

I found myself confronting hostile stares and Billy Idol sneers when trying to point out that putting special stones to charge under a full moon would not cure anything. But it’s hard to place blame on people who have been effectively left out of the healthcare system simply because they didn’t want to work a regular job.

The COVID-19 pandemic has begun to shine a light on our very broken and screwed up medical system, as well as the effect that misinformation, disinformation, and pseudoscience peddling quacks have had on our population. Not just strippers.

My hope is that rather than sweeping these issues under the rug with all that excess glitter, we can begin to make real changes to a system that currently rewards grifters and corporate greed. Instead, maybe someday we will have a healthcare system that facilitates self-employment and independence from traditional jobs.

I'm a former adult entertainer and author of Dirty Money: Memoirs of a Stripper and Expose Yourself: How to Take Risks Question Everything and Find Yourself- Humor and Insights from my life as a Stripper....