“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The issue of Healthcare in the United states is a topic that has becomes so heated, it has divided friendships, torn apart families and has been responsible for some rather illegal behavior amongst some otherwise law-abiding and intelligent people. My position is that the United States needs to adopt single-payer national healthcare, with the government being the single payer. Yes, one of the core values of being a United States citizen is the ability to improve oneself through independent means, and that the “American Dream” should remain alive and well. I also reason that we should do our level best to take care of ourselves.
However, I also reason that health care is a basic, human right and not a privilege that should be regulated by virtue of the financial condition of any given individual. All human beings should have free and unfettered access to healthcare, regardless of pre-existing conditions, regardless of social status and regardless of econominc status – and that includes preventative care, vision and dental. Furthermore, I also reason that each and every person who draws wages has the social, moral and ethical responsibility to help pay for it.
Yeah, and what of it? When it comes to health care, I stand one-hundred percent in favor of Socialized Medicine in the form of National Healthcare. When I was earning a paycheck, I was fully willing to have my income taxes raised to help pay for it, because money is not more important than the health and welfare of my fellow citizens. My point of view on this subject is not based on an ideology or my stance against religion.
To be perfectly honest, I was not always in favor of national or socialized medicine. For many, many years I was against it for some of the same reasons that I hear today, and was able to justify it every time I walked into my doctor’s office and presented my insurance card, knowing that I would be getting some of the best healthcare that is available anywhere in the world. Then the shit hit the fan. Due to cutbacks where I was working, I found myself without insurance benefits and also without sufficient income to afford a private policy. Then I got sick. I am not talking sick as in not being able to go to work or school for a few days or so, either.
Something was going horribly wrong with body, particularly my nervous system, and in short order I found myself unable to integrate into society on a functional level, let alone hold down a job. Visits to the emergency room and the free clinics were inadequate for obvious reasons and I did not have anywhere near the money I needed to pay for the tens of thousands of dollars of tests that were required. I applied for disability, but it would be about five years and an Alice-In-Wonderland trip down the rabbit hole of the Social Security Administration before I even got any of the money that I had spent twenty-eight years investing in, and even then it would be an additional two-year wait to qualify for Medicare.
Life Comes At You Fast…
The time frame between my ability to support my family through gainful employment, living in a nice comfortable home, driving reliable cars, eating good food and even enjoying a couple of toys and where I ended up could have been used in one of those “Life comes at you fast” TV commercials.
Within six months our life savings were gone, and even after selling just about everything of value we owned, we still lost our house, had our car repossessed and had to rely on food stamps and the kindness of strangers to scrape by. Our children were young, so they qualified for Medicaid, which assured that they were able to see a doctor. In short, I found myself and my family in a situation that I had once thought was a choice. Like many we all read about, I thought poverty was the result of laziness, a lack of education and ambition and anyone who was poor pretty much deserved what they got. Talk about a wakeup call…
Interesting thing about being poor, sick and disabled is that you get to meet a lot of other poor, sick and disabled people. Through these relationships I had collected dozens of stories about other people who had been thrust, through no fault of their own, into abject poverty. I had no idea there were so many other people who had also lost homes, cars, jobs, savings and personal property to the voracious appetite of sickness.
Paging Dr. Obvious…
I came to realize rather quickly that the problem was not a nation full of lazy, unambitious people, but a systemic problem with our healthcare system. Having to navigate through the woefully inadequate system of free clinics, endless forms that had to be filled out and dealing with health care professionals who knew comparatively little about both health care and professionalism, it didn’t take long to understand that what could have been accomplished in very short order with a good health insurance plan, competent doctors, state of the art equipment and diagnostics took almost three years of sometimes unbearable conditions and cost us almost everything we had worked our whole lives to attain.
We did not go broke and end up destitute and nearly homeless because of poor investments in the stock market, or having made poor decisions in other areas of life. I had been in management for many, many years. I worked very long hours, kept impeccable attendance and had a stellar record that was reflected in my professional references and had a resume I was very proud of. No, I ended up in the poorhouse because I got sick and did not have access to adequate health care. Period. End of story.
What Have You Done For Me, Lately…?
While I do not reason that I will live to see a truly socialized healthcare system implemented in the United States, the Affordable Health Care Act has made impressive strides. But that law is now in danger of being repealed by zealots who would rather see their neighbor die a slow death than part with their precious coin. The advances that the Affordable Health Care Act have made so far include the elimination of lifetime coverage limits for over 100 million citizens and now more than 17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage. Private insurers covering close to 174 million citizens must justify double-digit premium increases and insurers are now required to spend at least 80% of premium dollars on health care. Over a third of a million small businesses received a tax credit in 2011 to help them pay for health insurance for an estimated 2 million workers.
Over fifty million now receive a free preventive services like cancer screenings. The age that a child can be covered on their parents plan has been raised to 26 and more than fifty thousand with pre-existing conditions have gained coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. As well, over three and a half million people received a 50% discount that translates to a savings of about $600.00 each on prescription drugs after hitting the Medicare donut hole in 2011. More than 32.5 million seniors received one or more free preventive services. and for those of us on Medicare, we will save about four grand over the next ten years. Those of us who rely on extremely costly medications will save about four times that much, or about $16,000.
Repealing the AHCA will have resounding detrimental implications, including health insurance companies going right back to denying care for those with pre-existing conditions. According to ThinkProgress, health care insurers would deny coverage for pre-existing conditions if the AHCA is repealed,
“Health-insurance officials say that if the mandate is repealed, ‘their first priority would be persuading members of Congress to repeal two of the law’s major insurance changes: a requirement to cover everyone regardless of his or her medical history, and limits on how much insurers can vary premiums based on age.’ Their next step would be to ‘set rewards for people who purchase insurance voluntarily and sanction those who don’t.'”
The sad thing is that there are many people who have had it worse than I did, and ended up in tragically worse situations. My story is not unique, nor the worst that many of you are aware of or have even experienced yourself. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people in this country have died over the past decade alone for the simple reason that they did not have enough money in the bank. This doesn’t even address those adults who have recovered from their illnesses or have gone into remission that were denied coverage due to having a “pre-existing condition.” It would do you well to understand that Insurance companies write their own rules as to what consists of a pre-existing condition. Good luck if you had an illness that is multi-symptomatic.
It has been said by many wise people in varying degrees that a society will be judged by how it treats its weakest members. Those in our society who look upon the poor, sick and disabled not as human beings, but little more than an unwanted financial drain who are nothing but lazy, freeloaders who choose not to pay for their healthcare should be ashamed of themselves. Those who look upon the taxes needed to pay for universal, single-payer healthcare as “being robbed by the government” fail to understand how utterly immoral, unethical and selfish it is to believe that profit is more important than the health and welfare of their fellow human being. There are some things in life that require shared resources
Final Thoughts On Medicare & Social Security…
To those who approach me and to tell me I should “shut up” because I now get a Social Security Disability check and have free healthcare, please allow me to enlighten you. Social Security is an extremely fixed income and it is not an entitlement, it’s a benefit. Most of us who draw social security have paid into the system for many, many years and are now drawing income from our Social Security accounts. And it is a paltry amount. If you knew how much money I received each month you’d shit yourself and wonder how the hell anyone can afford to live on it. Many people would be surprised at the things one can learn to live without and be flabbergasted to know how many times a decision between buying groceries or paying for medicine comes across our tables.
As well, Medicare is not “free healthcare.” I pay more in monthly premiums for myself than what I used to pay for my entire family when I had a company-subsidized plan. As well, I have deductibles, co-pays and Medicare does not cover vision or dental. We have to buy our glasses, get eye exams and get our teeth fixed usually out-of-pocket, or invest in a pair of pliers and some string.
Free, my ass…