Re: rotator cuff...
I injured my shoulder about eight years ago. Mine was diagnosed as a "cartilage tear" although I didn't get any specifics. Now I've enough research to know that it's probably a labral tear of some kind. I got a few weeks of PT at the time, but no follow up and no MRI.
Like yourself, I had insurance problems. I was either without insurance or couldn't afford to use my insurance (high deductible+high copays) for years.
Finally now I'm able to take care of it.
Yes, my injury has worsened significantly over the years. I've adapted around it. Right now, I'm typing with my left elbow propped up on a pillow to lessen the stress on my shoulder. Mine was originally just a light pain with certain motions, like opening doors, or certain weight-bearing motions in sports. I hurt it in judo and have had to give up the judo because of the injury.
Now, it's an intense achiness much of the time, and the pain radiates down my arm into my hand. Very intense stabbing pain in the back of my shoulder much of the time. Numbness and tingling in my hand. Sometimes neck pain. It seems that shoulder often get a lot worse over time. I'm worried that mine is already too far gone to fix.
I've read that the major symptom of a rotator cuff problem is limited range of motion and pain on the front and top of the shoulder--which is what leads me to think that mine is something different--but I have learned that when a shoulder injury is not treated for a long time, the symptoms and effects can be pretty extensive. So many things are affected, and the muscles throughout that whole larger area have to compensate for the damaged tissue.
I hope we can both get some resolution.